8 Lifestyle Hacks To Support Your Mental Health

October is Mental Health Month in Australia, so we're helping Aussies instill new healthy habits to optimise their mental health.

08 Oct, 2021

Genetics

Mental Health

Nutrition

Sleep

Tips & Tricks

Wellness

Putting your health and happiness first, especially in this current climate, isn’t a selfish act, it’s a necessity! After all, you can’t be there for others if you haven’t looked after yourself first. Ready to improve your mental health and put yourself first? Keep reading for our 8 lifestyle hacks you can start implementing this month!

1. Eat more wholefoods

Wholefoods are minimally processed foods high in nutrients and fibre. Think foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, milk, wholegrains, fish and lean cuts of meat. By eating a diet high in wholefoods, you are ensuring your brain is obtaining all the essential nutrients it needs for optimal brain function. Not only that, wholefoods are full of fibre, meaning they are digested more slowly (yay to no dreaded sugar crashes) and promote good gut health – which leads to better mental health too! 

This month:

Pack in veg wherever possible! For example, lots of salad and roast veggies with your lunch and dinner, or a big handful of leafy greens in your breakfast smoothie or omelette. Also, try substituting processed white bread for wholegrain bread, eating oats instead of sugary cereals and snacking on fruit and nuts instead of sweet treats – the options are endless.

2. Stay active

Who else is familiar with those unexplainable feelings of happiness and excitement after a workout? When you exercise, your brain releases mood boosting chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins, which can help to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety and depression when done on a regular basis – helping to improve your overall mental health! 

This month:

30 minutes of exercise everyday. Not feeling your fittest self? Simply, try walking (which you can slowly build up to a more difficult workout)! 

3. Practice mindfulness

Studies have shown that mindfulness can reduce stress and manage mental health disorders by helping the mind focus on the present moment (rather than on old problems, worries and fears). Mindfulness does not have to be difficult, it can simply be a moment where you completely focus the mind on what you’re doing. 

This month:

Dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to practicing mindfulness. This may look like tuning into the noises you hear, what you see and how you feel on a walk; mindfully eating by chewing slowly and focusing on what you taste, the texture and/or noticing when you feel full; and, meditating by counting your breaths and allowing thoughts to come and go with no judgments – like clouds being swept by in a blue sky!

4. Aim for 7-8 hours sleep per night

We’re sure you’re familiar with how your mental capacity can be affected by a poor night’s sleep. But did you know, chronic sleep deprivation is closely linked to many mental health disorders? This is because sleep allows the brain to process emotional information, where studies suggest a lack of sleep can affect the processing of positive emotional content, leading to increased risk of mental health disorders. 

This month:

Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you’re a night owl, try pushing your bedtime forward by 15 minutes every few days to slowly adjust your natural body clock until you reach your desired bedtime!

5. Get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun

With many people across the globe finding themselves in a ‘working-from-home’ situation, making an effort to go outside and getting some fresh air and vitamin D is more important than ever. Why? Getting outside for a walk and fresh air allows you to awaken the senses and get your heart rate up (which helps with pumping Oxygen to the brain). Not to mention, studies show that looking at nature (e.g. trees, a garden, grass etc.) increases brain power and feelings of happiness, hope and peace. Additionally, getting outside helps us get our daily intake of vitamin D from the sun, where vitamin D deficiencies are associated with symptoms of major and minor depression

This month:

Eat your lunch in a garden or park, or go for a walk around the block on your lunch break!  Tip: Vitamin D is best absorbed through your forearms and lower legs

6. Make time for things you love

Making time for the things you love are key to feeling content and happy with your life – essential for good mental health. Additionally, doing the things you love can improve your motivation, general wellbeing, productivity, relationships with others and outlook on life. Need we give you more reasons to buy that cook book you’ve been eyeing off to inspire your baking?

This month:

Schedule time in your diary for the things you love, and sticking to it! Not sure what exactly you enjoy doing? Reflect on the activities you enjoyed during high school. Art? Sport? Hanging out with friends?

7. Stay connected

Humans are social beings – evolutionarily speaking, the key to surviving was by making close connections to help keep us safe. It is no surprise then that social connection plays a key role in our mental health, as it can promote feelings of comfort, safety, belonging and happiness. 

This month:

If you’re in isolation due to current lockdowns, schedule in time to phone a friend or family member once a day. If you’re able to, organise a walking date with a pal on the weekend – social connection and exercise, win-win!

8. Take advantage of our Personalised Wellness Membership and Personalised Medications Tests

These tips to maintaining good mental health are about making better lifestyle choices. Programs such as the myDNA Personalised Wellness Membership may be beneficial if you want to explore this further, where we offer a personalised approach to health and wellness, providing you with actionable DNA insights and recommendations on nutrition, fitness, sleep and vitamins (plus many more). It’s a gift of self love and an act of putting yourself first!

Additionally, if you’re someone who is or considering taking medications for your mental health, you may benefit from the myDNA Medications Test (Single Category – for mental health), which may help reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions, reduce wasted cost and time on ‘trial and error’ medicines, and help to reach treatment goals sooner.

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