Here at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, we’re here for you when you need mental health care, whether you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or another mental health condition. But we also want to help you establish lifestyle changes that support your overall wellness.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and in honor of that, we want to spend time focusing on the things you do every day that inadvertently take a toll on your mental health. By examining your daily routines and habits, you can start to cultivate healthy routines that support your mental wellness — and avoid the habits that may have a negative impact on your physical or mental health.
That’s why board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Hadi Estakhri created this guide.
1. Staying up too late
After a long day at work, it’s tempting to stay up late, catching up on a favorite TV show or playing a video game with a friend. However, if you consistently stay up late, it could take a toll on your mental health.
There are several studies that highlight the two-way street between sleep and mental health:
- A 2018 study revealed that severe lack of sleep (3+ nights with no sleep) leads to hallucinations and thought distortions
- A 2020 review highlighted that insomnia preceded mental health diagnoses including borderline personality disorder
- A 2011 study found that people with mental health disorders (including ADHD) were more likely to experience sleep disturbances at night
While completely skipping a night of sleep is extreme, insufficient sleep can add up over the course of weeks or months, leading to fatigue, mood disturbances, brain fog, and trouble concentrating. The Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults. You can improve your sleep quality by practicing good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene includes avoiding TV and phone screens for one to two hours before bed, going to bed at the same time every night, and sleeping in a cool, dark room.
2. Skipping your workout
Did you know that working out does more than build lean muscle mass? Regular exercise supports your mental health, and if you skip your workout, your mental health takes a hit. Here’s how your workout supports your mental health:
- Exercise encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins (a type of chemical that releases stress and improves your mood)
- The time spent exercising allows your mind to reset and take your mind off your worries
- It provides a positive coping strategy for dealing with life changes or stressors
- It helps boost your self-confidence
It doesn’t take much exercise to reap the benefits. Studies show that simply walking one mile per day can significantly enhance several parts of the brain, including the frontal cortex.
3. Neglecting your nutrition
Poor diets — i.e., any diet lacking in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean proteins — can exacerbate the symptoms of mood disorders. It’s tempting to fall into a rut eating quick, convenient foods, but many of those are processed foods that lack necessary nutrition.
By incorporating more healthy fats, which are heavily incorporated in the Mediterranean diet, has been demonstrated to support healthy brain function and improve memory. You can find healthy monounsaturated fat in walnuts, olive oil, chia seeds, cold-water fish, and avocados.
Rushing through the day may be the only way to cross everything off your to-do list, but too much rushing takes a toll on your mental health. The stress of constantly moving from one activity to the next doesn’t give you a chance to breathe. If your schedule is hectic, try simplifying it. At the very least, incorporate more stress management tips (like deep breathing) throughout your day to help get it all done with ease.
5. Brushing it off
Feeling more anxious than normal? Can’t get through this rough patch? It’s not uncommon to try and brush off the warning signs of a mental health disorder, and millions of people around the world live with an untreated mental health disorder. Getting help is always a sign of strength, and the sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you'll feel better.
This May, make a commitment to work towards abolishing any of these five habits that take a toll on your mental health. What’s one thing you can do to support your mental health today?
If you’d like to request an appointment, call our Newport Beach, California office at 949-258-7135 or schedule an appointment via our website.