Five Lifestyle Changes for a Happier Mind

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When it comes to mental health, we often hear about therapy and medication as the go-to solutions. But what about the lifestyle factors that can have a big impact on our well-being?

Even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental health condition, we all strive for a brighter mood, less stress, and improved day-to-day mental well-being. The good news? You have the power to make positive life changes that can truly make a difference.

Realistically, time and finances can sometimes limit our options. Even small, meaningful changes can create a ripple effect in your mental health journey. It’s all about embracing the opportunity to take control and make achievable adjustments.

Improve your diet and start moving

The food we eat and the way we move can have a profound impact on our brain function.

Wholefoods packed with nutrients, like leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean red meat, and seafood, provide the building blocks for optimal brain health. Loaded with magnesium, folate, zinc, and essential fatty acids, these foods work wonders for our cognitive function. Many of these nutrients have been processed out of highly-processed foods, so look for foods that are as close to their natural appearance as possible.

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Food variety is just as important. Foods rich in polyphenols, such as berries, tea, dark chocolate, wine, and certain herbs, also play a vital role in supporting our brain’s performance.

When it comes to exercise, the options are endless. Whether you’re a fan of swimming, jogging, weightlifting, or team sports, engaging in any form of physical activity gets the happy hormones flowing. Even something as simple as a brisk walk or active housework can make a positive difference.

Activities that involve social interaction and exposure to nature take the mental well-being game to a whole new level. So, round up your friends for a hike or join a community sports team to reap the benefits of social connections and the great outdoors.

While general exercise guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, even short bursts of movement can instantly boost your mood.

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Reduce your vices

When it comes to our overall health, managing problem-drinking or substance misuse takes centre stage. Individuals grappling with alcohol and drug problems not only face a higher risk of mental illness but also experience poorer general health.

Another crucial step toward a healthier mind is quitting smoking. Nicotine addiction creates a constant cycle of withdrawal and cravings that significantly impact mood. While addressing the initial symptoms of nicotine withdrawal may require time, your brain chemistry will adapt over time.

By breaking free from smoking, you open the door to improved mood and reduced anxiety (and more cash). The journey may have its challenges, but the rewards for your mental well-being are worth it.

Prioritise rest and sleep

It’s worth investing time in researching sleep hygiene techniques. They are easy adjustments that you can make to improve sleep quality and address insomnia, allowing us to wake up refreshed and revitalized.

Try not to force sleep. If you find yourself lying awake for around 20 minutes, it’s best to get up and engage in a low-stimulation activity until drowsiness sets in, creating a more natural transition to sleep. This is one of the reasons we have added Ashwagandha to SLUMBER. Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen that helps the body deal with stress.

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Get a dose of nature

There’s something about the warm embrace of sunshine that uplifts our spirits. Increased exposure to sunlight plays a significant role in maintaining our mood by boosting serotonin, the chemical that keeps us feeling happier. Additionally, it supports the synthesis of vitamin D, which impacts mental health and helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle.

In our modern world, limiting exposure to environmental toxins, chemicals, and pollutants, including the often-overlooked “noise” pollution, is crucial. It’s also beneficial to cut down on excessive use of mobile phones, computers, and TVs, as they can contribute to mental clutter.

A simple antidote to these challenges is spending time in nature. Studies reveal that immersing ourselves in the wilderness can improve self-esteem and mood. In some parts of Asia, the practice of “forest bathing” is considered a mental health prescription, emphasizing the therapeutic benefits of spending time in the forest.

Expanding on the positive impact of nature, the presence of animals also holds tremendous power. Research suggests that having a pet can bring numerous positive effects, while animal-assisted therapy involving horses, cats, dogs, and even dolphins can further amplify feelings of well-being.

Reach out when you need help

Recognize that positive lifestyle changes should complement, not replace, medication or psychological therapy. These changes empower individuals to take an active role in their well-being, enhancing the effectiveness of their treatment.

While many lifestyle changes can have a positive impact, it’s crucial to approach certain adjustments delicately, especially those that involve avoiding junk foods, alcohol, or quitting smoking, as they might have served as psychological crutches. Seeking professional support can provide the guidance and assistance needed during these transitions.

Take a moment to reflect on how you feel mentally after enjoying a nourishing wholefood meal, experiencing a restful night’s sleep free of alcohol, or taking a leisurely walk in nature with a friend. Notice the positive impact these simple yet meaningful activities have on your well-being.

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