According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in any given year. Conditions like generalized anxiety and chronic depression can be debilitating for sufferers, so what can we do to help lower these rising statistics?
Although certain mental health conditions are outside of our control, our daily habits can have a significant impact on our happiness overall. While depression and anxiety can be brought on by a multitude of factors (including genetic predisposition, illness, and major life events), there are things we can do to improve our emotional wellbeing. Here are five everyday habits that could be affecting your mental health, and how to change them.
Lack of Exercise
Exercise is vital for maintaining mental health, but despite knowing the science behind the claim, many people struggle to fit regular movement into their daily routines. What’s more, exercise can feel impossible to someone who’s depressed, and it’s common to lack the energy or motivation to even get out of bed.
If you’re struggling to eat or exercise, it’s worth talking to your GP about how to navigate this mental health blip. Like millions of other Americans, you may benefit from talking therapy or medication to help get you back on track.
It can be difficult to see that your relationship is toxic while you’re in it, but many people experience anxiety and depression as a result of an unhealthy romantic partnership. If your spouse is verbally or physically abusive, he or she will probably make you feel incompetent and worthless, which can have a devastating effect on your self-esteem.
If you think your relationship could be what’s causing your mental health issue, talk to a close friend or trusted family member, and consider whether your life would be happier without that person in it.
Contrary to the belief that smoking helps you relax, recent studies show that the habit can actually increase anxiety and tension, particularly in those who have smoked over a prolonged period. What’s more, nicotine is a stimulant, so it can make it harder to sleep at night. The connection between depression and lack of sleep is well documented, so if you’re experiencing erratic sleep patterns and poor mental health, it may be time to quit.
According to a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, simply sitting up straight can help alleviate symptoms of depression. The study suggests that a corrected posture can improve self-esteem, increase positive attitude, and even reduce fatigue in depression patients.
Numerous studies suggest that spending more time in nature and less time with our digital devices can alter our brain chemistry and help alleviate symptoms of depression. The artificial light that emanates from most screens can also disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, causing fatigue and sleep disturbances. Next time you feel low, put down your phone or iPad and take a walk outside, particularly if the sun is shining.