Lifestyle Tips for Mental Health
You may have seen the blog posts on Nutrients for Mental Health, Herbs for Mental Health and Eating for Mental Health. Here we’ll look at how it’s not just what we put into our bodies, but how we live that can affect how we feel.
Here are 9 lifestyle tips to raise your mood:
1. Physical Activity – many recent studies back up the positive effect of physical activity on mental health whatever age you are (1,2,3). Physical activity doesn’t have to involve going to a gym or buying special equipment. Going for a walk, run, swim or cycle ride are all good. Gardening, dancing, housework and skipping also count towards your physical activity. Aim for 20-30 minutes a day. Avoid sitting down for long periods of time. Get up and walk around or have a stretch.
2. Mindfulness -there is some evidence to show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is superior to standard antidepressant drug treatment for the prevention of depression relapse in patients with recurrent depression (4).
3. Think positive – serotonin and mood is a two way street. Positive feelings lead to higher levels of serotonin and negative feelings lead to lower levels. Think positive and you’ll soon feel better.
4. Get some daylight – serotonin levels are affected by light. Getting outside in daylight is an easy way to improve your mood. You can also reset your daily cortisol cycle by exposing your eyes to day light or bright lights in the morning. During the winter light boxes can help to boost mood and serotonin. Avoid exposure to bright light, especially screen light, in the evenings.
5. Meditation – meditation and relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi and breathing exercises can help improve mood and mental health.
6. Reduce chemical exposure – traffic, paints, carpets, hair products. perfume, cleaning products, new goods and factories can all be sources of pollution that can have a negative effect on brain health. Use natural household and personal products wherever possible. Your local health store is a good place to find such products.
7. Socialise – loneliness fuels depression. Spend time with friends or family or build your social network by joining a club, enrol in an evening class, take up a team sport or start volunteering. Talking things through is a good way to get things into perspective.
8. Write it down – jotting down your feelings on paper can be calming and clarifying. Even if you are having angry thoughts you can write them down without upsetting anyone else.
9. Count your blessings – acknowledging and giving thanks for the good things in your life improves feelings of well being. Write down 3 things each day for which you are grateful and give thanks.
1. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 26;17(19):E7053. Linking Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle with Cardio Metabolic Disease and Depressive Symptoms: A Study on the Elderly in Europe. Castello JV, Tubianosa C.
2. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2020 Sep 28;13:787-796. Intensity of Physical Activity and Depressive Symptoms in College Students: Fitness Improvement Tactics in Youth (FITYou) Project.Guo F et al.
3. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 May 25;17(10):3738. Depression and Objectively Measured Physical Activity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Gianfredi V et al.
4. BMJ Open. 2019 Aug 5;9(8):e028527. Complementary therapies for clinical depression: an overview of systematic reviews. Haller H et al.