How Does Lifestyle Impact Your Mental Health
Abraham Maslow gave the idea of hierarchy of need, when the primary needs of individuals get fulfilled, they develop secondary needs. Humans have the tendency to want more and better. It is not the access to material or the denial of it that causes trouble with mental well being. Rather it is an inappropriate lifestyle that is troublesome.
Fulfillment of certain needs and sense of gratitude towards them is an essential for a sound mind. Firstly, survival is the most essential need of any living being, therefore fulfillment of all the necessities that ensure survival is required. Secondly, it is the way humans manage to make a living out of those available resources that determines the quality of their life.
Lifestyles are essential for promoting the mental well being of any individual. Mental health is dependent on multiple variables and the vast majority stem from our lifestyles.
It might not seem like it, but where we live, how we live, what we eat, what we read, who we spend time with are all factors which are making or breaking our mental health.
What is Mental Health?
Our social emotional and psychological well being makes up our sound mental health. Our mental health reflects how we feel, think, and behave. How we come up with conclusions and make good decisions all depends upon sound mental health.
Mental well being can be disturbed by a variety of factors and many of which stem from our lifestyles.
The Curse of Mental Health Disorders
Having mental health issues can disturb our everyday life, including activities such as:
- Ability to enjoy life to the fullest
- Inability to balance multiple aspects of life
- Unable to find and improve strengths and weaknesses
- Ability to process various emotions
- Give up in the face of challenging times
The list of problems can go on and the long term effects are even more harmful. Majority of the causes that contribute to mental health problems are stemming from our day to day life, how we carry ourselves, and how we see ourselves and others.
Faults in Our Lifestyles
Our environment has a major role in affecting our mental state. Some negative factors that derail mental health are:
Smoking and drinking or recreational drug use greatly affects our hormonal distribution. Many of these hormones such as serotonin regulate our moods and behaviours. Substance abuse disturbs their distribution in the body and in turn can only be released when we use drugs or alcohol. Thus drugs and alcohol will always create a mental health issue.
People who do not pay heed to your point of view, do not appreciate your goals and aspirations are a source of stigma and anxiety of all sorts. Loss of self-confidence also stems from toxic environments. Jealousy and hatred can also isolate individuals and have also led to behaviours such as self harm.
Processed foods, high in synthetic sugars not only contribute to obesity but also to mental health problems making it impossible for individuals to take any kind of affirmative action.
How to Improve Lifestyle and Mental Health
Certain changes in one's lifestyle can go a long way. Here are a few practices that can help to bring about huge amounts of improvements.
Balance is the key to managing all the crests and troughs of life. We are all in a constant strive towards better and best; but we can still develop certain healthy habits to make it optimal for mental well being. Just like physical well being, mental health as well, requires nourishment. Having a balanced routine is the best cure and the prevention.
Firstly, having a good sleep for 9-12 hours is necessary for your mind to be fully functional. Our sleep allows us to recover and a good sleep helps to ease the mind and balance our circadian rhythms.
Secondly, it is essential to have good food for thought. Mind will process and produce out of what it is fed, a healthy lifestyle must include regular meditation and self-care.Medication provides a way to look at the positive aspects of our day and work on our weaknesses. It allows us a time for self reflection and self love.
Thirdly, managing work within work hours helps reduce stress. Finding positive individuals at the workplace is an easy way to fight off the stress
Fourthly, practicing gratitude and positive attitude towards others helps one to develop a good attitude as well.
Finally, making peace with the needs and living the life instead of constantly striving to make it better is a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to this, it is also essential to get rid of unhealthy habits. Unnecessary work-load, bad sleeping patterns, drug consumption, unhealthy socializing and unmanaged routine can worsen the cause.
John T. Maggio MA, LCADC, LAC, has a dual clinical license in Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment. He is currently a clinical specialist and the Program Director of ChoicePoint Health, Ambulatory detox, Intensive Outpatient, and Outpatient Treatment Center.