Your mental health is your general well-being. It’s your ability to get through everyday life with a positive point of view and to bounce back when certain people or events challenge that point of view. Though mental health may seem like an internal process, it’s made up of four key categories—physical, nutritional, emotional, and social. While each component deserves your attention, it’s important to start with the physical, which is defined by your exercise level and the quality of your sleep. When the physical aspect of your well-being is off track, it’s difficult to focus on the other three.
Why Exercise and Sleep Are Important
Both exercise and sleep, or a lack thereof, can have significant impacts on your mental health.
Exercise is a useful tool in reducing stress and anxiety; it also combats the development of ADHD and depression. Physical activity, in any form, triggers the release of endorphins. These are hormones in your brain and your nervous system, and they work as your body’s natural painkillers. They help relieve physical pain, and they release feelings of pleasure. The more you exercise, the more often endorphins are released. This leads to a boost in your energy level, your mood, and general well-being.
The release of endorphins also helps relieve tension in the body, which directly affects your mind. Without regular exercise, it’s easy to slip into a pattern of negative thoughts, dark feelings, and physical pain or discomfort.
In addition to exercise, sleep is an important part of self-care. Those who suffer from disrupted sleep are at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety than those who get full nights of sleep. Initially, a lack of sleep can cause you to feel lethargic or irritable. But over time, it can cloud your thinking and prevent you from performing at your highest level. This can lead to feelings of frustration and sadness which, if not treated, can become more serious conditions.
Restful, regular sleep gives your mind and body a chance to recover and regenerate, so you can approach each day with a fresh perspective and high level of energy.
How to Improve Exercise and Sleep
To improve both your exercise level and sleep quality, the key is habit. It’s crucial to create a routine that’s realistic and manageable, to increase your chances of success.
To boost your physical activity:
To improve your sleep:
Improving mental health involves several components, with regular exercise and proper sleep you have set the foundation to have the energy for the others to follow.
To achieve success in any aspect of your life, it’s crucial to manage your mental health. But this is something that most people struggle with. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in every 4 people suffers from a mental health condition. Often, we suffer from these conditions because we don’t truly understand what mental health is or how our daily habits and behaviors affect it. By simply defining mental health and gaining a deeper understanding of the factors that impact it, we can preserve our well-being for the long-term.
Mental health—a definition
As defined by mentalhealth.gov, “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” It also includes the ways we handle stress, relate to other people, and make decisions. You can break mental health down into four categories:
Though mental health concerns your internal processes, much of what influences it comes from external sources. By nurturing these four areas, you can assess and protect your mental health.
This article shows how a mental health diagnosis can also be seen as a way to live more empowered moving forward due to the fact of knowing one self better (link here)
Exercise has been proven to reduce the impact of, or even eradicate, mental health conditions. Regular physical activity can:
Whether it’s lifting weights, kayaking, or running laps on a track, exercise is a powerful tool in fending off conditions like anxiety and depression. Just 30 minutes of daily intense movement can positively impact your well-being. Additionally, regular sleep is a crucial part of both physical and mental health. Sleep allows your body to recover from your physical activity, and it keeps your mind clear.
Without regular, restful sleep, the lack of rest can spiral into depression or sleep conditions. Plus, sleep deprivation and fatigue can impair your thinking, leading to poor decision making and even physical harm.
ProTipp: Moving actively for 30min each day while getting your heart rate up, it will change your body for good within only a few weeks.
What you feed your body can have a tremendous impact on your mental health. For example, studies have shown that excessive consumption of sugary drinks can lead to panic attacks or development of ADHD. Though it’s important to enjoy your meals, you need a well-balanced diet that encourages holistic health. This means reducing sugar and caffeine, ensuring you never skip breakfast, and avoiding heavily processed foods with low nutritional value.
This also includes drinking plenty of water. Regular, adequate water consumption cleanses your body of toxins, improves your mood, boosts your energy, and even prevents harmful disease.
ProTipp: Reduce the amount of sugar in food and especially drinks. Try water instead of juices or soft drinks consistently, it will change your life for real (just do a google search for “effect of sugar like cocain?” and you know what I mean)
When it comes to your mental health, not every answer is internal. Social connection is often a greater indication of your health than even physical measurements like weight or vital signs. Meaningful, deep connections, such as volunteerism, friendship, and family or romantic relationships, help us avoid loneliness. They also improve our quality of life and increase our feelings of self-worth and belonging. You can strengthen these connections by volunteering once a week or attending regular lunches with friends. Without these connections, it’s much harder to understand our purpose and push forward through tough times.
ProTipp: Spend extra time with people you truly love and care about and reduce the time with people you cant even remember why you are friends with.
Stress is likely unavoidable in your life, but the way you manage it can have a profound impact on your mental health. Simply setting aside 5 minutes for mindfulness each day can boost your emotional state. Also, coaching can help you keep your bearings when faced with tough obstacles. By understanding your purpose and strengths, and by employing a series of stress management techniques, you can stay present in the moment and ensure short-term problems don’t morph into long-term crises.
ProTipp: Find a fixed time in your day when you do breathing exercises or simply do nothing at all with closed eyes. 5minutes already have a huge effect on stress relieve.
In short, mental health is a reflection of how we care for our minds and bodies. By paying special attention to each piece (physical, nutritional, emotional, and social), we can boost our energy levels, and lead lives that are happier, and more passionate and fulfilling.
Business graduate turned digital expert turned professional coach.