Why is Mental Health So Important?
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 5 US adults experiences at least one mental health condition each year. Mental health is crucial in leading a happy life. Maintaining positive mental health will stabilize emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It can increase productivity, improve relationships, and make our self-image better.
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Not only does it affect how we feel, it can also have a role in overall physical health. When stress is left unchecked, it can lead to many health problems including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Mental health also helps us make difficult choices and be able to work towards achieving our full potential.
Taking care of your mental health through daily habits and professional treatment is just as important as taking care of your physical health. While mental health disorders require professional psychological help and medications, there are still many lifestyle changes you can implement to prevent mental health disorders from getting worse or for treating stress. Here are some habits to improve your mental health:
7 Daily Habits to Improve Your Mental Health
1. Get Enough Restful Sleep
Sleep is important for your overall health, but especially your mental health and mood. Not getting enough sleep can lead to irritability and can also cause health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Some ways you can improve your sleep include:
- Avoiding caffeine after 3 pm
- Sleep in a cold room
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule every day
- Make your bedroom a relaxing and quiet space, free of clutter
2. Limit Screen Time, Especially Social Media
The blue light from screens can alter your circadian rhythm which will cause sleep issues. Also, constantly watching other people’s lives may cause you to compare yourself and lead to feelings of low self-worth, anxiety, and depression. Ways to spend less time on social media include:
- Make a list of more meaningful activities to replace scrolling sessions
- Delete social media apps or turn off notifications
- Keep your phone in a drawer or outside the bedroom when sleeping
3. Get Daily Exercise
Exercise offers several physical and psychological health benefits, including relieving stress, mood, sleep, anxiety, and depression. Getting moving can help release feel-good hormones including serotonin and dopamine, which are key for good mental health. Exercise can be done in a variety of manners, including walking, yoga, weightlifting, swimming, dancing, or aerobics class. You do not have to do strenuous exercise to get the mental health benefits of movement. You can also get outside to exercise, do it with friends, or do something that is fun to boost its feel good effects.
4. Improve Your Diet
A diet of healthy foods will help stabilize your mood and give you an overall happier outlook on life. Nutrients like vitamins and amino acids found in healthy foods are essential for brain neurotransmitters responsible for mental health. Add more whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, lean meats, and fatty fish (heavy in Omega-3s) plus drink plenty of water throughout the day. You should also avoid certain foods like caffeine, refined carbs, processed foods, alcohol, and those with added sugar, as those can worsen mental health symptoms.
5. Have a Daily Routine
Building a daily routine can have several health benefits including improving stress levels, sleep, and overall health. Having a daily routine through exercise, sleep patterns or habits can help your body adjust and know what to expect, lowering feelings of anxiety. They also help form healthy habits including exercise, eating meals at a regular time, and having a consistent sleep schedule. A daily routine can also decrease burnout by helping you to organize your life and making sure you add activities that support your mental health.
6. Get Outdoors and Get Some Sunshine
Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D and can improve attitude and mood. All it takes is between 5 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to get the benefits. It is especially important to get a few minutes of sunshine during the winter when you are at risk for developing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sun exposure can combat anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure. Some ways you can get outdoors more include:
- Taking a quick walk
- Eating lunch in a nearby park
- Exercise outdoors
- Sitting in your backyard or outdoor cafe
7. Find Relaxation Techniques
Most people think of relaxation techniques as breathing exercises or meditation. However, there are other ways including exercise, art, music, getting together with friends, or a hobby. There are also several types of holistic therapies that can promote relaxation such as acupuncture, massage, and reflexology. What is important is finding what works best for you and helps you get your mind off daily stressors.
Mental Health and Addiction
Addiction and mental health issues are closely related. One may cause the other or they can start at the same time. Abusing drugs or alcohol causes physical changes in the brain which can alter emotions, moods, and mental health overall. Addiction can also cause nutritional deficiencies and for individuals to neglect their overall health, which also has an effect on mental health. When both substance abuse and mental health disorders exist simultaneously, they are referred to as co-occurring disorders.
Often, those with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder, will attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, which only makes their symptoms worse. They will continue to abuse drugs and alcohol more and more in order to cope with worsening mental health symptoms. Drug and alcohol abuse alters brain chemistry and with repeated use, the brain becomes accustomed to the substance in order to regulate neurotransmitters and other brain chemicals, causing physical dependence and eventually addiction.
When the person attempts to stop using, the brain does not know how to function without the drugs or alcohol and develops withdrawal symptoms, which can cause or worsen mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. Over time, the brain will begin to function normally on its own again, however, some people will continue to experience negative mental health effects. Some substances, such as methamphetamines can cause severe, long-term mental health disorders including psychosis.
How The Detox Center Can Help
The Detox Center of Los Angeles offers comprehensive treatment programs including dual diagnosis treatment, which is critical when dealing with co-occurring disorders. Treatment plans are personalized for each person and will include various types of addiction therapies aimed at addressing the underlying causes of their addiction, including mental health disorders.
We can help you safely go through the withdrawal process from drugs and alcohol with a medical detox program. Following with residential inpatient treatment will help heal the root cause of your addiction and provide you with tools and skills that will help you manage your substance use disorder in the long term. Our clinicians will help you work through co-occurring disorders with compassion and expertise to help you achieve long-term relief from mental health disorders that are contributing to your substance abuse.
If you would like more information about our integrative treatment programs at The Detox Center LA, please give us a call today. Our addiction specialists are ready to answer your questions or get you started on the admissions process.