The way we live says a lot about us. Lifestyle means a lot to us and is about more than how much fun you’re having or how much work you’re getting done. It also has a profound effect on your mental health.
That’s why it’s smart to take a step back and examine your own lifestyle. How is it helping your mental health? How it is hurting? The consequences of a lifestyle that runs counter to your mental health interests can be severe, so take action and build a better, healthier life.
Is your lifestyle good for you?
Everyday, we make decisions (or follow through on powerful habit loops) that affect our mental health, whether we realize it or not. And, over time, these decisions can add up to a complete mental health picture — for better or for worse. Let’s take a closer look at your lifestyle.
Mental health and physical health are much more closely connected than many of us realize, and a poor diet and lack of exercise can bring down your mood and make you more vulnerable to all kinds of common mental health conditions.
Consider stress. What about your environment — including your home, your commute, and your work environment — might contribute to higher stress levels? What about your work, your career, and your current work-life balance (or lack thereof) might be raising your stress?
What about the place that you live in? Big cities with competitive work environments tend to lead to higher stress levels, so residents of places such as Washington, D.C., may want to be more proactive about their mental health than others, expert DC therapists point out — though they emphasize that virtually anyone can benefit from therapy.
Are you seeking treatment for any mental health issues? Are you in therapy? You probably visit the doctor regularly for physical checkups — do you do the same for your mind?
What a rough lifestyle can do to your mind
All of the questions and concerns above are important because, if you’re not careful, your wrong answers could lead to serious mental health problems.
Anxiety disorders are, when taken together, the most common form of mental health issues. They can be triggered and exacerbated by stress — the same sort of stress that is caused by your lack of work-life balance or your busy, competitive life in a big city like Washington, D.C.
Depression is common, too, and it can be worsened by the low moods you’ll experience when you fail to get proper nutrition or exercise regularly.
And other, less common mental health issues can arise from environmental factors — including basic, ongoing lifestyle decisions — too. So get smart and change your life.
Building a better life
The idea of changing your whole lifestyle to improve your mental health can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do all of this at once, and reprogramming habit loops for the better will help you achieve long-term, sustainable change.
Tackle bad habits first, and start fighting for the little things that will improve your mental health, such as a vacation or a rule against answering emails after hours. Leave a bit earlier to make your big-city commute less stressful. Aim for sustainable changes — rather than crash diets — and try adding vegetables in and swapping out a few unhealthy favorites for healthier options. And, above all, get some professional help. Your mental health is an important dimension of your overall health, and it deserves the same professional care that you’d give your physical health.
Are you feeling stressed? There are continuous warnings of money being in short supply, bills having to be paid, contracts that have to be maintained, and so on. Unfortunately, if you want to innovate, you will need more than good idea management software. You will also need a harmonious environment in which people don’t feel stressed. People who experience high levels of stress are not like to be very creative, simply because they have too many other things on their mind.
The Science Behind Stress and Creativity
A study has been completed at the University of London, where scientists looked that the impact of improving well-being and lowering stress had on their ability to come up with innovative ideas. Participants in the trial were asked to take part in a three-part course in which they learned about overall well-being and stress. It was found that this reasonably simple course encouraged people to put better solutions in place to manage their own stress levels. Interestingly, doing so also made them more creative, ensuring they could come up with innovative ideas in the workplace.
This isn’t the first time that this type of research has been conducted and that these results have been shown. Instead, numerous pieces of research and studies have shown that calm and relaxed people are much more likely to come up with new and innovative ideas. People who were stressed out, by contrast, seemed to stop thinking creatively. This makes sense, as these people are likely to simply have too much on their mind to think outside of the box as well.
How to Stress Less
There are numerous ways in which people can figure out how to stress less and become creative one again. Lots of this information is available online. Additionally, there are now numerous companies that have developed programs in which employees can learn how to reduce their stress levels, many of which are based on the three-part course used by the University of London in their research.
One way to help people stress less, interestingly, is to make sure that they learn something new and interesting every day, something that is not necessarily related to their actual work. Doing so gives them the opportunity to just turn their mind away from their stress, even if it is just for a short period of time. It is easy enough to send a company-wide message out at the end of each day with a titbit of interesting information.
Here’s one to get you started: did you know people often work for companies of which the initials match those of their name? The chance of your first initial matching that of the company you work for is actually one in nine, more than 10%, in other words. That is significant! Psychologically speaking, it is believed that this is because people find it easier to identify with something that starts with the same initials, and when people can identify with something, they are more likely to trust it as well.
By now, almost every single human being on planet Earth should know that there is a link between stress and health. If it isn’t obvious, it has been spoken about at length, and there are plenty of books, films and videos on the subject. But what exactly does stress do to the body, and what exactly is stress?
Stress is how the body responds to demands. These could be demands or pressures of any kind and can be found in both positive and negative areas of life. When we are stressed, or feel pressured by something, our bodies release chemicals which trickle into our bloodstream. On some occasions, these chemicals help create adrenaline, and people find themselves performing better due to having more energy as a result of adrenaline. This is why some people at work ‘might perform better under pressure’. It can also be a huge negative, though – when adrenaline is created due to emotional stress, there can be no outlet for the adrenaline which then can lead to feelings of extreme anxiety.
What causes this stress, then? Identifying the causes of stress is a great way to find out how you can deal with the stress. Well, it comes from a lot of different areas. Physical stress is a fear of threat in a physical manner – like violence or crime. Emotional stress comes in the form of worries and pressure. Humans in most circumstances don’t have to worry about survival stress – where the threat of violence or death causes extreme stress. We might find internal stress a lot more common. This is when we worry for no reason and create all kinds of stress and panic ourselves that may or may not actually exist, or when we fear things out of our control. Our environment can cause stress due to pressure, work or other things and of course, we can suffer from being overworked. When we are pushed too hard or fail to manage our time and rest, we can build up a lot of stress.
In the modern day, a lot of this can come from the workplace. We can suffer emotional stress because of the internal stress we make while worrying, the environmental stress that we may suffer from because of pressures at work and the stress created by a lack of rest. All these three can combine for a nasty cocktail! It’s so easy to stack causes of stress and suffer more than ever. Stress can lead to heart disease and other ailments, it’s a big deal.
So how do we defeat stress? Well we identify the causes first and then work to change or cope. To change, we need to change our situation through our own methods or legal means. To cope, we need to adjust how we feel about the situation. It is easier said than done, though.
Stress can be a killer through it’s boosting of mental illnesses and the catalyst it provides to ailments such as stroke and high blood pressure. Take it seriously and learn to relax a little to avoid it.