Lifestyle Factors That Impact Mental Health

The world health organization defines mental health as, “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.” Researchers are increasingly acknowledging that absence of mental illness does not necessarily imply a state of psychological well-being. Positive mental health is defined as the presence of general emotional and psychological https://miksemar.id/ well-being, while mental health problems can be defined as the presence of psychopathological symptoms (i.e., depression, anxiety, bipolar affective disorder). Mental health exists on a continuum that is influenced by our life circumstances.

1) Lower BMI/maintain BMI within the normal weight range

A person is considered to be obese when they have a BMI that is higher than 30. The CDC has a BMI calculator that can be shared with clients to help them understand their BMI and the risks associated with being overweight or obese. In a sample of 886 women, higher BMI was associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower positive mental health. In addition, a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies, identified that a BMI of 25-29.99 (which is considered to be overweight) also predicted future symptoms of depression and anxiety. Working with clients on maintaining healthy weight can positively impact their mental health.

2) Be physically active

Frequent physical activity improves both physical health and mental health. The recommendations are to engage in moderate intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walk) for 150 minutes every week (i.e., 30 minutes, 5 days a week) AND muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all of the major muscle groups (i.e., legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). Or engage in vigorous intensity aerobic activity (running or jogging) for 75 minutes per week, and muscle strengthening 2 or more days. Here is a helpful handout that you can share with clients regarding physical activity.

3) Engage in meaningful mental or cultural activities

Mental activities include any activity that utilizes the mind, especially when doing something creative. These activities can by receptive (i.e., visiting a museum or going to a concert) and/or active (i.e., playing an instrument, writing, or painting). Mental activities are associated with better mental health and increased life satisfaction.

4) Reduce alcohol consumption/drink in moderation

The studies that investigate alcohol consumption and mental health are inconsistent. Researchers believe this is due to confounding variables and continue to study this important topic. The CDC recently launched a screening tool along with a public health campaign to drink less alcohol. This screening tool is an excellent resource that can be utilized with clients, and includes readiness to change, and goal setting as part of the tool.

5) Do not smoke

The research is clear on smoking – it negatively impacts both physical and mental health. Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable mortality. It is strongly associated with mental health problems, and is a modifiable risk factor that can significantly impact ones health. Supporting clients to quit smoking is an important consideration in mental health. There are many good medicines on the market to help a person quit along with smoking cessation programs.

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