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Why Is Mental Health Important to a Healthy Lifestyle?

The link between lifestyle and mental health can influence an individual’s mood and mental state. 

Overview

Mental health is very important in order to improve and maintain optimum body wellness. In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of the importance of mental health and its effects on the body, including a focus on the relationship between lifestyle and mental health. 

However, while there are several approaches for ensuring a healthy mental health status, many people remain unaware that investing in a healthy lifestyle is the easiest way to ensure optimal mental health and avoid further mental health problems. 

healthy lifestyle and mental health

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a term used to describe an individual’s collective emotional, psychological, and social state or wellbeing. It’s important to note that an individual’s mental health does not only point to their current emotional, psychological, and social states, but it also directly influences their thoughts, emotions, and actions. Mental health also influences people’s response to stressful situations, their interactions with others, and their decision-making capabilities.1

Mental health and how to maintain it has been gaining lots of traction in recent years, but many still don’t know how to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into their daily routine. This is one of the first steps in learning about the importance of lifestyle and mental health.

What is a Lifestyle Choice?

A lifestyle choice refers to a series of decisions an individual makes that directly impact their quality of health and wellness. People’s lifestyle choices are important because they can either improve or worsen their level of personal wellness, which will invariably affect mental health negatively or positively.2

The Relationship Between Lifestyle and Mental Health

Good mental health ensures individuals have the mental strength and fortitude they need to face and overcome life’s challenges. Mental health also affects your ability to develop and maintain beneficial relationships, influencing overall social, emotional, and physical wellness.

As mentioned earlier, a direct relationship exists between lifestyle and mental health. In fact, studies have shown that there are a variety of lifestyle factors that have a direct impact on the mental health and wellness of an individual. For example, lifestyle factors like the rate of exercise and how well we eat can significantly impact mental health and either precipitate negative health effects or promote good living conditions. Therefore, learning about healthful behaviors for mental health is important as it will help you know what to do to improve mental health and avoid lifestyle behaviors that could negatively affect your mental health.3

Lifestyle Choices That Affect Mental Health

There are many different lifestyle choices that can affect our mental health, either negatively or positively. Many of us may already have habits that impact our daily mental health as well. Some common lifestyle choices that affect mental health will be detailed below:3

Eating Habits

One lifestyle habit that has been certified to have an effect on mood and, by extension, mental health is food. Eating junk food or maintaining a “skewed” food diet has been shown to affect mood and mental health negatively. Another eating habit that can impact our mental health and overall lifestyle include excessive and inadequate dietary patterns. It is best to avoid greasy and under-nutritious meals and choose instead a balanced diet that includes nutrient-dense foods that foster improved brain stimulation and activity as these foods will also improve mood.

Sleep

Do you get enough sleep every night? If you don’t, then you should attempt to adjust your schedule to allow for an increased amount of better-quality sleep. Sleep significantly impacts lifestyle and mental health in more ways than you may have originally thought.

For example, lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to mood disturbances and physical health concerns, leaving you less able to handle stressful situations successfully. On the other hand, getting the proper amount of sleep each night enhances mental health and increases the body’s capacity to recover from illnesses.4

Smoking

The relationship between smoking and poor mental health is commonly known, and those who smoke also make up about half of the statistics of individuals suffering from mental disorders. This statistic alone more than hints at the level of devastating effect smoking can have on lifestyle and mental health. Do you smoke? If you do, then this is a habit you will want to drop if you’re able in order to ensure you’re able to maintain an optimum mental health lifestyle.

Social Interaction

Humans are social beings, and we require near-constant social interactions to keep us functioning properly. Social exclusion or isolation usually precipitates feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem in individuals, eventually resulting in the development of mental illness conditions. Conversely, spending time with friends considerably elevates mood, and the support of others makes overcoming obstacles in daily life simpler.

Some other mental health and lifestyle choices that have been known to either boost mental health or damage it include physical activity, substance or alcohol abuse, our work environment, and medication or relaxation practices.

Exercise and Mental Health

Another lifestyle and mental health factor that is known to affect mental health and wellness significantly is physical activity. Although exercise is also very important for maintaining a healthy weight, it has far more benefits than just helping you get back in shape. Exercise contributes to the treatment of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and dementia. It also contributes to improved mood regulation and stress reduction.

Exercise and mental health have been inextricably linked for decades, if not longer, but there are still various studies being done on the subject in order to ascertain just how it alters the brain and body in order to improve mental health. 

Benefits of Exercise

Some mental health and lifestyle benefits of regular exercise include the fact that it:

  • Improves brain function
  • Contributes to favorable mood adjustment
  • Helps to prevent and relieve symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Is an excellent and healthy way of dealing with stress
  • Has also been known to boost memory and thinking abilities

Healthful Behaviors for Mental Health

Several mental health and lifestyle behaviors could contribute to improving your overall mental health. Some of these healthy changes include enhancing your diet, making exercise a priority, practicing techniques to reduce stress, and getting enough sleep. 

It’s important to note that not every diet or workout plan will work for everyone, and it often takes some trial and error in order to find a lifestyle change that works for you and your mental health. This doesn’t mean that you should get discouraged if the first or second plan doesn’t go according to plan. The fact that you or your loved one are attempting to make these changes often shows that you are already on the right track towards a healthier lifestyle.

What to Do Next

Once you have implemented the above-listed healthy lifestyle and mental health changes in your life, you should begin to notice improvements in your mental health state. You can also build a support structure that consists of friends and family around you and engage in beneficial hobbies and activities. There are many ways to start living a better lifestyle in order to further your mental health, and starting small is often the perfect way to begin. 

mental health and lifestyle

Achieve Long-Term Wellness With Alta Centers

Mental wellness is essential to a happy, healthy lifestyle. At Alta Centers, we are committed to your mental wellness, and can equip you with the proper tools, techniques, and support to lead the life you deserve; we can help you mitigate the challenges of everyday life and restore balance, peace, and confidence through healthy habits.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.