‘Highest return on investment’ habits for mental health revealed by expert

Adopting simple mental health-promoting habits can significantly impact your mental wellbeing in the long term.

Mental health is increasingly being prioritized and given the same (if not greater) importance as physical health as a result of growing awareness. You don’t have to do drastic things to improve your mental wellbeing. Developing simple yet impactful daily habits can be a great start.

Simple habits for mental health

Cognitive neuroscientist Nawal Mustafa shared some of these habits on Instagram, explaining that “Taking care of your mental health does not have to be expensive or complicated.”

The list includes the following habits [1]:

  • Get your body moving by doing moderate cardio three times a week for 35 minutes
  • Maintaining a good sleep routine: 7 to 9 hours a night
  • After waking up, get 20 minutes of direct sunlight
  • Spend 15 minutes a day journaling your thoughts or whenever you feel distressed
  • Practicing mindfulness twice a day for 20 minutes
  • Hydrate your brain and body with water (coffee doesn’t count).

Bhasker Malu, Lecturer and Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) at Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences, explains that “good mental health habits are important.” In many ways, positive habits allow the brain to preserve energy since a particular task is already decided.

Therefore, one does not have to think about it for long periods of time. It also makes room for more creativity in life and work.

In addition to meditation, physical exercise and journaling, Malu recommended a routinized sleep schedule. In the long run, if practiced regularly, these habits have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and lift overall general wellbeing.

It has been demonstrated that individuals with these routines can handle complex tasks more efficiently and with a greater sense of originality [2]. Adapting to patterns can also change an individual’s perception, as the brain changes and adapts. Meditation reduces the size of the amygdala, the brain’s fear center – which lowers anxiety, he said.

Start now, it’s never too late

There is always time to start practicing these mental health-promoting habits, even if you haven’t already.

The brain and the human body are malleable, according to Malu. If we practice an activity or thought repeatedly, we will learn to behave that way. Even our muscles can be shaped in old age, according to recent research, so exercise isn’t out of the question [3].

Motivation is crucial to starting and maintaining an activity for a long time. If you want to incorporate habits that help your mental health, you will need to push yourself to make them a habit. Then that will become the new normal, said Malu [4].

[1] https://www.instagram.com/p/Cq9JFwMP9M3/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8700831/
[4] https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/underrated-habits-mental-health-8554424/

Photograph: aksenova_sveta/Envato
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