Healthy Habits to Improve Your Mental Health

September 1, 2020

Maintaining physical fitness is imperative for many reasons. It provides us with not only more energy, but it also decreases the risk for many conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

However, mental fitness is equally as important, and shouldn’t be neglected. An unfit mind can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression, ultimately taking a toll on the entire body.

Luckily, there are some healthy habits that you can incorporate daily to reap the benefits of a sharper mind. Just continue reading and find out how!

 

1. Regular Exercise

Everyone knows exercise is good for us. Research has shown that regular exercise can boost our mental health in numerous ways.

First, it improves blood flow to our brain and keeps it healthy. In addition, regular physical activity has also found to improve memory, reasoning, clarity, and reaction time. So, to enjoy these benefits make sure you exercise regularly. The form of exercise you choose doesn’t matter all that much, even though it would be great to complete at least 2-3 workouts per week. Nevertheless, even light exercise can provide a huge mental boost (1).

 

2. Less Social Media

Social networks may seem like a convenient and easy way to keep in touch with people, however they can also have a negative effect on mental health. Recent studies show a link between frequent social media use and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Younger individuals are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of social media, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. So, try a social media detox, and limit your use to only a few hours per week. Use the spare time for productive activities that will actually have a positive impact in your life.

 

3. Read More

Reading provides our brain with a point of focus, supplying a great mental workout. There are plenty of amazing books out there, and every sentence in them stimulates the mind to process the words and recall their meaning. Reading also brings creativity into play as you visualize the characters and environments mentioned in the book.

Joseph Addison ones said: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

 

4. Rest & Relax

Scheduling some time to relax each day allows your brain to rest, refresh, and recharge. This not only boosts mental fitness, but it also helps with overall energy and well-being. Great activities for resting and relaxing include listening to music, taking a hot bat, reading, etc.

 

5. Stay Hydrated

You might be surprised to hear that hydration can have a huge impact on one’s mental health. Our brain is made of 75% water, and being improperly hydrated can lead to a terrible impact on mood, concentration, and cognition.

To stay properly hydrated, it is recommended to drink at least 2.7 liters of fluids daily for women, or 3.7 liters for men.

Keep in mind that these numbers also include fluids other than water, the ones contained in food, and similar. Always start your day with a tall glass of water, and later on you can have 2-3 glasses with each meal (2).

 

6. Sleep 7-8 hours

Sleep is very closely-knit to mental health. A lack of sleep can lead to complications such as anxiety, stress, weight gain, and heart disease, to name a few. If you haven’t already, make sleep a priority. Form a sleeping schedule, and go to sleep every night at the same time. This way you’ll ensure proper rest and recovery.

 

7. Healthy Fats

About two thirds of our brain is made up of cholesterol and fat. Consuming healthy fats is crucial for optimal cognitive function, as our brain uses these nutrients to build new cell membranes, signal pathways, and much more. To ensure that your diet is rich in healthy fats, make sure to consume plenty of nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish, and dairy products. 

 

8. Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are filled with essential vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Studies have shown that these powerful nutrients support our brain, promoting its normal functioning. Besides this, they also help us protect against brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Not to mention their tremendous importance for our overall health and well-being (3).

 

9. Socialize  

People with strong social ties to friends, family, and their local community, are happier and live longer and fuller lives. Furthermore, people that are lacking social interactions are at a much higher risk for depression and cognitive decline over time.

Socializing and engaging with people on a regular basis keeps your brain active and stimulated. Every conversation triggers your brain to process new information, creating responses all of which boost mental fitness. So, make an effort to spend time around people whose company you enjoy – it’s great for your mental health!

 

10. Controlled Breathing

Slowing down your breathing is a simple but efficient technique for improving your mental clarity. By focusing on your breathing, you can instantly clear the mind of unnecessary thoughts and things. Over time, this will allow you to be more clam, centered, with less stress and anxiety.

 

References:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6068860/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/

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