Depression and anxiety have been increasing in numbers for decades. Could our routines and behaviors be leading to this increase? Are our habits hurting our mental health?
On average, we are sitting 9 hours a day, while sleeping an average of 7 hours. Compared to past decades, this is a large amount of inactivity. Mostly due to a working lifestyle, many jobs are behind a desk, creating hours of sitting. Our bodies were not designed for such inactivity.
This inactive lifestyle leads to possible weight gain, but more importantly, different chemical reactions that could lead to depression and anxiety.
Not only does consistent activity help mental health, but so does your environment. If you are heading to the office then back home day after day, you are not getting enough sunlight in your routine. Increasing activity, and also including the outdoors in your daily and even weekly routine, will help to guard against depression and anxiety.
Inactivity and poor diet not only lead to weight gain but also to increased chances of poor mental health. Weight gain does decrease self confidence, making it difficult to correct because of a dangerous circle of inactivity, weight gain, and depression.
But not only does watching calories matter with mental health, so does the type of diet. Usually, the same foods to avoid weight gain are the same to avoid depression and anxiety. These foods are usually high in sugar, or sugar from carbs. These foods will change the chemical makeup in the brain, leading to depression and anxiety.
And as if worrying about diet and exercise aren’t stressful enough, avoiding other life stressors is also very important for mental health. Stress increases cortisol levels which does lead to a decrease in optimal mental health.
Increasing daily exercise is paramount in combating stress, but also taking time for yourself to put stress aside is the best plan. Just a few minutes a day to unwind, taking in some quiet time will also aid in improving mental health. And don’t forget, schedule some fun each week, doing what you enjoy. It is easy to forget these things with our busy lifestyles, but our mental health is too important to ignore them.