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Exploring Effective Methods For Stress Management #6: Keep An Eye On All Lifestyle Habits

In this last entry as part of the 6 ways to cope with stress series, we wanted to emphasize that mental health is interconnected to other parts of healthy living.


People’s mental health will get affected if they don’t take care of their physical health too. Even though we cannot say that one factor can be the cause of the other (mental or physical) there is a strong correlation between them.





The brain is very sensitive to the effects of other habits. If you're eating unhealthy food, not getting enough sleep, or neglecting hygiene, then there is increased risk for developing depression or anxiety. So it's important to be mindful of what other habits are affecting your mental health because it could cause a vicious cycle.


Here are some things to keep a watchful eye over:


-Diet & Nutrition


Although diet is not a major factor of mental health, a healthy diet can improve a person's quality of life. People who suffer from anxiety or depression may find more relief from their symptoms when they adopt a healthier lifestyle with nutritious food and regular exercise. According to Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick, found that those who ate healthy foods like fruits & vegetables daily had improved physical & mental health.


It is important to note that what you eat does not fix underlying problems with your mental health. It simply improves your quality of life and makes you feel better about yourself.


Diet and nutrition play a crucial role in the development of our brain. This is because when we eat, certain chemicals are released that affect our mood. So if we eat healthier foods it can help us feel more positive and even reduce anxiety levels.


For people who suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, the food they eat may have an especially strong effect on their moods. That’s why it is important to make sure they get the right nutrients and avoid certain foods that may trigger a downturn or binge.


A lot of processed foods are inflammatory & can cause a lot of physiological & biological issues. Processed foods often contain preservatives, artificial colors, and refined sugars which can cause many health issues such as weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. It is important to stay away from processed foods or at least consume in moderation with fixed days of the week.


Consider trying out new foods, looking at recipes online, and set personal accountability challenges like eating X amount of days eating Y types of food.



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-Quality Of Sleep


A lack of quality sleep can be detrimental to mental health.


How much does sleep quality affect mental health? The answer is simple: a lot.


A study by Dr. Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and director of the Berkeley Sleep Disorders Center, shows that people who get 6 hours or less per night are three times more likely to develop mental health problems than those who get 8 hours per night.


Also, the CDC recommends that people get at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily in order to maintain good health. Research shows that this amount is necessary in order to avoid depression or anxiety.


Set a time at night of when to go to bed to & be consistent with it. Dim the lights 30-60 minutes before falling asleep as well as straying away from screens.


Another thing that I do is I have a physical alarm where I have to physically walk to the other side of the room to turn off in the morning. This is more likely to wake me up in the morning consistently & be force me to pick a tolerable time to get ready for bed.



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-Social Environment


How much does one's social environment affect mental health?


A social environment can be made up of friends, family, coworkers, local or online communities, etc. The different parts of the social environment can affect mental health in many ways.


Friends and family can provide emotional support and love, as well as encourage good habits such as exercise and healthy eating.


A person may feel sad or stressed with no one to talk to about their problems. If they have a supportive friend or family member who listens to their problems with sympathy & understanding. Then they will be less likely to experience negative emotions because of having a reliable system of support.


However, some environments may promote bad habits that can lead to excessive alcohol consumption, drugs addiction, frequent partying, overworking, & the list can go on.


The people you surround yourself with have a big impact on your mental health. Good people will push you to become a better person while bad people will take change your standard of behavior or take advantage of you.


Your morals and ethics also contribute to how your social environment affects your mental health; likewise your morals & ethics can be shaped by others. This is concerning because a person can develop bad habits, morals, ethics, & behavior based on the people they're surrounded by.


Evaluate your social circle based on values that are important to you & set boundaries for behaviors that are ideal to your personal well-being.



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-Hygiene Management


Good hygiene is important for both mental and physical health. It is a social skill that we need to practice in order to feel good around others and maintain self-confidence.


We all want to be attractive, but it's hard if you don't feel clean or smell good. Hygiene is something we often take for granted because it should come natural and should not require any conscious effort from us.


But because we don’t pay too much attention to the effects of our habits on ourselves, the implications may be more than just skin deep. Bad hygiene can cause poor mental health & lead to reduced productivity at work, lower self-esteem, and even willing absenteeism.


Poor hygiene can result in a feeling of shame or embarrassment, which can in turn lead to a depressed mood. Poor hygiene can also make one not feel good about themselves when they're around other people.


What are some suggestions for someone who wants to maintain their mental health through improved hygiene?


Practicing good personal grooming habits is crucial. This includes bathing regularly and washing hair, nails and skin at least twice a day with soaps & moisturizer made for sensitive or acne-prone skin.


Good hygiene is not just about smelling good and feeling fresh. It's about feeling good, looking good, and feeling confident. Though it may seem like a superficial issue at first, it is actually an important part of mental health.


As people with poorer hygiene are perceived as less attractive or less confident, they can become dissatisfied with themselves. This dissatisfaction can be detrimental to mental health as perception of self-image can be damaged.


Hygiene management can seem like a lot of work, but like anything it takes consistency, encouragement, & a positive social environment that helps you.



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-Sun Exposure


The connection between sun exposure and mental health is not new. The benefits of getting enough sun exposure are well-documented.


It is known that people who work outdoors are more likely to have fewer cases of depression, anxiety, and dementia than those who do not get enough sun exposure.


However, it can be difficult to measure the degree of our sun exposure accurately because we don't know how much time we spend outside during different seasons or in different parts of the world.


Sun exposure has been shown to have a number of positive effects on mental health that may help reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression. These include increasing serotonin levels that promote healthy well-being and reducing stress.


Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D in the human body, but too much exposure to it can be harmful. People with higher levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. But be cautious with being out in the sun for too long due to burnt skin or other body damages.



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-Consumption Of Drugs & Alcohol


Some people see addiction as a disease while others see it as a inevitable lifestyle choice, but either way it is something that impacts the whole person and often leads to mental health issues.


The science of addiction has seen an improvement in its understanding in recent years. It's now known that addiction isn't just a physical condition, but also greatly influences mental health and can manifest in many different ways.


Drugs and alcohol have both been known to impair one's mental state and cause impairment in cognitive functions such as memory or concentration. When someone drinks or does drugs they are at risk of more easily developing depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. This is because they are more likely to be exposed to traumatic events & have their emotions amplified.


The impact of drugs and alcohol on mental health depends on the type, quantity, frequency, duration and pattern of use. Most common substances that are used are alcohol, nicotine, cannabis or prescription drugs. The most common pattern of use is to use drugs or alcohol for a period of time then stop for some time before starting again.


Most people enjoy drinking after work to relax and reduce stress. A small amount can have a calming effect but too much will disrupt sleep patterns. Alcohol is also known to numb feelings so the person might forget about their problems temporarily but it will come back stronger when they do not drink anymore.


Drugs may provide temporary relief from problems but they usually become more intense over time with higher doses needed to fulfill oneself, leading to addiction.


In a 2018 report, it is estimated that about 11% of the U.S population over the age of 12 have been diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence at some point in their lifetime. That doesn't sound like a lot but when you break it down, that is around 22 million people which is a significant number!


A major problem arises when drugs and alcohol are used to escape from reality and negative feelings such as anxiety, stress or depression start to emerge. This may provide temporary relief but in the long run can only leads to addiction and more problems that hadn't existed before abuse of drugs.


Consider seeking out specialists in drug addictions, join support groups like AA or NA, & be open to family members for support.



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-Emotional Intelligence


Emotional intelligence is the ability to regulate emotions and understand how other people’s feel. It has been linked to mental health in various ways. For instance, it can be a predictor of depression and anxiety disorders. Emotional intelligence also predicts the level of one’s wellbeing.


The importance of emotional intelligence is clear when you consider how it affects our interactions with other people. It can lead to better relationships with others by helping us understand them better and improving our understanding of ourselves.


As a result, we are less likely to get frustrated or react aggressively when dealing with difficult people or stressful situations which can have negative effects on our mental health. It has been linked to physical health as well where it can affect our immune system, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and even cholesterol levels.


But as we grow up, it can be hard to feel emotions and understand what others are feeling; a person is young who hasn't experienced a lot of the world yet develops their emotional intelligence overtime.

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The importance of emotional intelligence has been recognized worldwide because it differs from one person to another and is a crucial determining factor in success in the arts, business, and life.


Research on this topic has shown that people with high emotional intelligence are less stressed, more satisfied, and have a better mental health.


Emotional intelligence is not just an important characteristic for individuals to possess, but for organizations as well. Emotional intelligence can help improve the productivity of employees, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce costly mistakes.



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-Working Conditions


There is a huge correlation between people's mental health and the working environment. The lack of job security, wages, and benefits can lead to high stress levels. As you go up the hierarchy of companies, there are fewer people who feel overworked.


According to the article, workers with lower salaries are more likely to experience mental health problems than those who earn more than $50,000 per year. Low-wage workers report that they are feeling constantly stressed out because they don't have enough money for necessities like food and rent. This stress can lead to depression or other mental disorders.


Working conditions can also create resentment among the employees due to the unfairness of the system. A workplace is also a social environment that can affect the behavior & development of a person. This is important to be mindful of because a person can pick up either good or bad habits from the people they're most often exposed to.


A few ways to overcome a hard working condition: work to help change th