Your Lifestyle Shapes Your Mental Health

 Healthy lifestyle

We often overlook that our lifestyle choices and physical health can significantly affect our mental health and emotional well-being. For example, making changes in sleep, diet and exercise can be instrumental in improving our emotional well-being, and in preventing mental issues (1).

 

Physical Activity

The physical benefits of exercise extend over multiple body systems. It reduces the risk of various disorders, ranging from cardiovascular diseases, cancer (2), to diabetes. (3) 

The psychological benefits of exercise are both preventive and therapeutic (4). For example, studies showed that exercise could reduce the risk of depression and neurodegenerative disorders, such as age-related cognitive decline, like Alzheimer's (5), and Parkinson's disease. (6) 

Being active is scientifically proven to improve mood, lower anxiety and stress. 

When we start exercising, the brain recognizes that this is a moment of stress, and so the heart pressure increases, and our bodies go into "fight or flight" mode. Our brain responds by releasing proteins to protect itself and act as a reset switch; this is why we often feel more at ease after exercise. 

Other chemicals called endorphins are also released, and their job is to reduce the discomfort of exercise, block pain and induce a feeling of euphoria. 

To truly reap the benefits of exercise, we should make it part of our daily routine. By maintaining an exercise habit, we keep our energy levels up, and reduce everyday life stress and negativity.

 

Diet and Nutrition

Understanding how your diet impacts your mental health, will help you be more aware of your choices. 

It's essential to eat various foods to make sure we get all the nutrients we need. Meals should have a balance of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fats. 

The Mediterranean diet, which includes mostly fruits, veggies, legumes, good fats, and fish, is one of the best diets. People in their seventies who were the most active and adhered best to a Mediterranean-style diet were more than 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (7)

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in brain-friendly nutrients including carotenoids, and flavonoids. Those nutrients will slow down the mental decline caused by aging. (8)

Walnuts help lower your LDL cholesterol. They are rich in vitamin E, folate, and fiber. Also they are particularly rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid with cardioprotective properties, which lowers blood pressure (9).

Flaxseeds are abundant in alpha-linolenic acid. A study found that ALA-rich foods lower blood pressure because this omega-3 fatty acid helps relax blood vessels, allowing blood to move more freely through arteries and the brain (10)

Tea is also another wise choice. The amino acid called theanine helps activate a part of the brain's circuitry tied to attention span (11). Tea also plays a big role in improving your mood and combating stress factors (12). There are many teas to choose from, such as Matcha green tea, or if you wish to try a nootropic blend to improve your brain performance, try Brain Tea.


Good- Quality Sleep

There is a close relationship between sleep and mental well-being (13). Often having issues with mood and anxiety can impact our sleep quality, and poor sleep impacts our mental and emotional health. 

We might think that sleep is a time for our minds and bodies to shut down, but in reality, our brains are working very hard during sleep. Sleep is a time when a lot of processing, resolving, and restoration occurs. 

One vital role of sleep is to process our memories and the information we have taken throughout the day (14). Our brains sort this info and transfer short-term memories into long-term memories. 

Sleep also helps our bodies rejuvenate, repair tissue, grow muscle, and balance hormones (15)

To improve the quality of your sleep, follow a relaxation ritual before bed, switch electronic devices off, and journal before going to sleep.

 

Nature

A therapy with no side effects and at zero cost. Nature promotes improved cognitive function and overall well-being, and these effects have recently been documented (16)

Research suggests that nature sounds are restorative to directed attention (17). Thus, interacting with nature reduces symptoms of stress, depression, and ADHD. 

Urban environments cause significant cognitive, emotional, and psychosomatic tolls, which can lead to attentional difficulties and sleep disturbance. 

Given the global rush of technology, it has become vital to remind people of the importance impact of nature on our lives.

 

The Take-Away

Healthy eating, regular exercising, interacting with nature, and quality sleep help us keep our mental health on track, manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve our overall well-being.


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References

(1)Promoting Mental Health and Wellness in Youth Through Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Sleep - PubMed (nih.gov)

(2)Mechanisms linking physical activity with cancer | Nature Reviews Cancer

(3)Physical activity and diabetes prevention | Journal of Applied Physiology

(4)Physical Activity and Mental Health | SpringerLink

(5)Physical exercise in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

(6)Exercise and Parkinson's disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

(7)Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer disease mortality | Neurology

(8)Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study - PubMed (nih.gov)

(9)Walnuts Decrease Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Summary of Efficacy and Biologic Mechanisms | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

(10)Flaxseed and cardiovascular health - PubMed (nih.gov)

(11)The role of glutamine in neurogenesis promoted by the green tea amino acid theanine in neural progenitor cells for brain health - ScienceDirect

(12)A Review of the Role of Green Tea ( Camellia sinensis) in Antiphotoaging, Stress Resistance, Neuroprotection, and Autophagy - PubMed (nih.gov)

(13)The effects of improving sleep on mental health (OASIS): a randomised controlled trial with mediation analysis - ScienceDirect

(14)[Sleep, memory and learning] - PubMed (nih.gov)

(15)Relationship between sleep and muscle strength among Chinese university students: a cross-sectional study - PMC (nih.gov)

(16)The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature - PubMed (nih.gov)

(17)Of cricket chirps and car horns: The effect of nature sounds on cognitive performance - PubMed (nih.gov)



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