By Julia Thomas
Your lifestyle is the way you choose to live your life. In terms of physical health, your lifestyle can include habits like the way you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke or not. What you may not realize is that all these habits also affect your mental health. Sometimes, all you need to feel better is a quick pick-me-up like going to a spa or taking a walk.
Making Changes to Improve Your Mental Health
But if you want to really improve your mental health, you might need to make some bigger lifestyle modifications. Here are some changes to consider making soon and how BetterHelp can assist you as you do.
Increasing your physical activity can have a profound impact on your mental health. For example, research shows that both people who do aerobic exercises and nonaerobic exercises had significant decreases in depression. That means you can take a daily walk or run, go swimming, or even lift weights. The more you move, the healthier you’re likely to be, both physically and mentally.
So, why don’t people exercise more? It’s easy to assume the problem is pure laziness. But the truth is that people have many different reasons for avoiding physical exertion. If you aren’t sure what’s holding you back, you can talk to a counselor at BetterHelp to explore your experiences, thoughts, and feelings about getting active.
Choose a Healthy Diet
The way you eat affects your mood and your mind. Eating a healthy diet that includes reasonable amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, and healthy fats can make you feel not only physically stronger but also calmer and more in control.
Take, for example, sugar. Blood sugar spikes can alter your brain chemistry and cause mood swings. What you need to remember is that you don’t have to be diabetic to experience problems caused by eating too much sugar. It can happen to anyone.
Therapists are available through the BetterHelp app at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/betterhelp-online-counseling/id995252384 to help you deal with any emotions you have about changing your eating habits. They can also work with you to overcome mental health problems that contribute to unhealthy eating, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. Through the app, you can receive counseling via videoconferencing or text chat.
Whether you’re smoking, drinking too much, or using drugs, you can improve your mental health vastly by stopping those unhealthy addictions. The fact that these habits affect your brain should come as no surprise. After all, that’s why they’re so appealing.
The trouble is that as your brain adapts to getting more of these substances, they no longer deliver the effects that you want. In the meantime, they decrease your ability to function at work, in your relationships, and in everything you do.
Of course, quitting is easier said than done. It takes a lot of support to get clean and sober for the long term. By talking to a counselor, you can uncover the reasons behind your addictions and address any issues you need to resolve.
You can get tips for making this lifestyle change from someone who understands how these substances affect your brain and body. And you can get compassionate, non-judgmental support as you take on this challenging task.
Get Enough Sleep
Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or, do you find yourself spending more time in bed than you ever have before? Getting the right amount of restful sleep can enhance your ability to deal with life’s stresses and strains.
During your discussions about lifestyle with your online counselor, you can discover what keeps you from sleeping, such as racing thoughts, worry, or tension. If you can’t seem to stay away from the bed, your therapist may spend some time assessing your mental health for problems like depression. You can also get tips for improving your sleep hygiene, including all the little habits you have surrounding bedtime.
Learn to Be Calmer
It’s hard to enjoy the benefits of other healthy lifestyle changes if your days are filled with stress and anxiety. Each of those changes can decrease the daily effect stress has on your body and mind. Yet, you can also make lifestyle changes that calm you more directly.
One thing a counselor can do to help you achieve a calmer mindset is to teach you relaxation techniques. They can take you through guided imagery, teach you progressive muscle relaxation, or help you get started with mindfulness meditation. If you have specific fears, they can help you with exposure therapy.
Or, if your anxiety is more generalized, they can help you get to the root of why you feel the way you do. With the right help, you can learn to become calmer and more at ease with yourself and your world.
Enjoy Social Situations More
People are social creatures. But social situations can be difficult sometimes. At times, you may feel like isolating yourself from other people. Or, you may feel uncomfortable being in a group. If you have social anxiety, you might feel embarrassed or unable to participate in conversations in a group. But a healthy lifestyle includes close friendships and strong family bonds.
By talking to a therapist about your social fears or discomfort, you can discover why social situations are challenging for you. You can deal with self-doubt and self-esteem issues, so you feel more confident with other people. And your BetterHelp therapist can help you gain a more realistic perspective on what to expect from upcoming social events. You can also learn how to choose the most helpful thoughts so you can take a better approach to these situations.
It might seem strange to think that changing your thinking will give you a healthier lifestyle. After all, when most people think of lifestyle modifications, they think of physical health.
Yet, without the foundation of good mental health, it’s unlikely that your physical health will improve for long. That’s why it’s far better to address your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as you work towards a healthier you. Then, you’ll not only find it easier to make changes, but you’ll enjoy the results even more.