May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health dis-orders are like any other disorder, it means something is out-of-order. Mental health dis-orders range from common daily anxiety to more severe diagnoses like dementia or schizophrenia.
In this article, we will be looking at 5 bad habits that can cause a daily dose of anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, or depression. If left uncorrected, these daily doses may surmount to more serious dis-orders, such as eating dis-orders, OCD, PTSD, and psyche dis-orders such as schizophrenia.
But what can cause poor mental health in the first place? The answer lies in one’s habits and lifestyle choices.
5 Bad Habits Leading to Poor Mental Health
1. Poor Nutrition: Last week’s article was entirely about how food affects mood. There is a direct relationship in the body between the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis. Studies show time and time again that what we eat influences our mood, energy levels, motivation, and ultimately our behaviour. For a list of foods that lower mood and lift mood, please see last week’s article:
2. Dehydration: The main symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, decreased alertness and focus, headaches, constipation, dizziness, and poor mood. Of course, one would have a poor mood if constipated, dizzy, and/or tired. Monitoring water intake, especially during hot weather, drinking early and at regular intervals will improve any of these symptoms. Any bit of water will help.
3. Lack of sleep: Getting to bed late decreases proper hormone secretion overnight and throws the body’s natural circadian rhythm off balance. Prioritize sleep by getting to bed at the same time each night, along with a night-time routine beforehand.
This should include ending all screen time at least 30 minutes before bed, making time for personal hygiene, which includes brushing your teeth, washing your face, moisturizing, perhaps even a little self-massage; then get to bed. If needed, choose to wind down with a sleep meditation.
4. No physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle is said to be “the new smoking”. Being active for just 30 minutes a day can help increase circulation, decrease blood sugar levels, decrease stress and tension. Exercise, yoga, walking, and swimming are all proven to increase focus and mood. Mainly because endorphins are released in the body after physical activity.
5. Not breathing: Most of us don’t realize we are not breathing well. A disrupted flow of inhales and exhales can lead to holding your breath, which decreases focus and increases brain fog. Poor breathing cycles also keep the body stressed, thinking it’s always in fight-or-flight mode. Monitor breathing and return to proper inhales and exhales especially if stressed. Mindful breathing is a certain method to get out of the mind!
To summarize, poor nutrition, dehydration, lack of sleep or physical activity, plus not breathing well can hinder performance, increase fatigue and therefore, cause mood swings, anxiety or depression.
To stabilize your mood, make sure to get enough protein, vegetables, water, exercise, and sleep. Lastly, remember to breathe!