Mental illness is a health concern that can significantly affect how a person thinks, feels, behaves and interacts with other people. With good mental health we are able to fully enjoy day-to-day life and appreciate the people around us.
You can become your own mental health supporter by taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle. In conjunction with your treatment options, incorporating healthy lifestyle changes into day-to-day life can help you form positive relationships and better manage and cope with life’s challenges.
Here’s what you can do:
Along with weight management and physical health, exercise offers protective benefits to your mental health. A study undertaken by the National Institute of Health (2010) found aerobic exercises including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening and dancing, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Be sure to get in 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3 times a week.
Enjoy a healthy diet
Unhealthy choices such as processed foods, sweets and food with little nutritional value can all undermine mental health. The Mental Health Foundation (2016) recommend eating a balanced amount of wholegrain carbohydrates, nuts, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables to reduce mood swings and increase energy levels. Omega-3 found in fish and Omega-6 fatty acids found in seeds and nuts have also been proven to boost brain power and reduce mood swings.
Get enough quality sleep
The Australian Sleep Health Foundation (2014) recommend adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. A regular sleep cycle is created by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. This can lead to great mental health improvements, making it easier to recover after illness and facing challenges less daunting.
Spend time with loved ones and build positive relationships
Friendship can make a big difference when it comes to mental health. Whether it’s a weekly outing with a friend or engaging with the wider community through volunteer work, feeling connected helps to increase altruistic behaviour, making everyday challenges easier to deal with.
Meditation, deep breathing and similar techniques have all been proven to assist mental health. By committing to 20-30 minutes each day of meditation, deep breathing or mindfulness, you can slowly improve your ability to tolerate frustration, control anger and manage anxiety.
Approximately half of people with mental illness are smokers. Quitting can be a great challenge and may create a temporary downturn in mental health, however, The Mental Health Foundation (2016) found quitting smoking has many benefits to mental health and is felt after just a few weeks. The toxins in cigarettes have been found to contribute to mood problems. Additionally, the physical health problems caused by smoking such as heart disease, lung disease, coughing, emphysema, frequent colds, and difficulty exercising can all lead to mood problems and mental health challenges.
Mental illness is real and it is important to seek assistance for treatment options available which best suit you. In conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, your treatment options will work more effectively and you will see more rapid change.