5 Factors That Affect Your Mental Health

Taking care of your mental health requires more than a weekly meditation session and a spare 10 minutes to sit and recharge.

Read up on the following factors that affect your mental health and discover what you can do to maximise the positive in your day to day activities.

Physical activity

We have all been inundated with the benefits that exercise brings, but did you know your daily dose of physical activity has also been proven to lessen the symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, depression and stress?

As well as enabling you to harness your energy into focusing on one specific activity, exercise also floods your body with feel-good endorphins – and who’s going to say no to those? Combined with an influx of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin – all of which contribute to staying focused and attentive – getting physical will have your mind and body in a positive space.

Diet

Food and mental health go hand in hand, with better quality diets proven to reduce depression risk, while unhealthy dietary patterns – higher in processed foods – are associated with increased depression and often anxiety.

If you’re ingesting foods high in sugar and bad fats you’re going to send your senses into short term overdrive, meaning you are satisfied, stimulated and energised for short periods of time before you come crashing down in a pile of hunger, tiredness and lethargy.

To keep yourself in a more positive mind frame with stable blood sugar levels, stick to regular balanced meals comprised of wholegrains, vegetables and proteins, and avoid overconsumption of foods high in fat, sugar, caffeine – and anything else that’s going to cause your body to work overtime in processing what you’ve been chowing down on.

Past experiences

From PTSD through to post-natal depression, past experiences can significantly impact your mental health. There is no one size fits all approach to treatment, and there’s no solid definition of what constitutes a negative experience – what effects one person may have a completely different impact on another.

Victims of traumatic events, including childhood abuse, racism, sexual abuse and bullying are also at higher risk of suffering mental distress, with workplace incidents and relationship breakdowns also contributing to an individual’s likelihood of suffering mental health problems.

Past experiences in which an individual has experienced a strong sense of negative emotion such as stress, anxiety or rejection can also have long lasting impacts on an individual’s mental health. Knowing the right ways to incorporate coping strategies for past experiences will enable you to be able to deal with everyday situations that may act as a trigger for your mental health.

If you find yourself struggling with mental health as the result of an experience, consult with a trained mental health professional.

Social life

Although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea to be in a crowd 24/7, human beings are by nature social beings. People with an active social life enjoy increased feelings of wellbeing, while reducing their risk of depression. Additionally, those who are keen on socialising have also been proven to perform better on tests of memory and cognitive function.

On the other hand, individuals who are socially isolated or lonely can experience negative impacts on both mental and physical health, including diet problems, problems sleeping, increase in negative thoughts and increased risk of depression, paranoia, anxiety or panic attacks. These feelings may come because of loss or grief, living alone, retirement or a language barrier.

Make a conscious effort to keep your social life active by regularly catching up with friends, joining community groups, getting a pet or volunteering.

Lifestyle

We’re all for a happy and active social life – but try and mix up your usual weekend of partying with a few trips out and about getting fresh air and experiencing something new.

Alongside contributing to your health in a myriad of other manners, substance abuse can also have a serious impact on your mental state, with the consumption of alcohol, nicotine and other drugs closely linked with mental health problems such as depression, dependency and psychosis. As with any substance toxic to the human body, alcohol and other drugs will affect concentration, energy levels, mood and general cognitive function.


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