Magazines and blogs are full of lifestyle tips and advice. In glossy photographs, readers see fit and happy people jogging, meditating, and (seemingly) enjoying their lives to the fullest. But all people have a lifestyle, even if many of those lifestyles are not quite so healthy as the ones we see in lifestyle-oriented media publications. You have a lifestyle, and it’s the sum of your habits, hobbies, and priorities. Every day, your lifestyle helps determine everything from the size of your belly to the happiness that you feel.
Hopefully, you strive to make healthy choices in your daily life. If you’re like most people, though, you don’t always succeed. Worse yet, there’s a good chance that your lifestyle decisions are shortchanging a huge portion of your overall health: your mental health. Is it time to give your lifestyle a mental health boost?
It’s no secret that the typical American lifestyle could be a whole lot healthier. Even in relatively cosmopolitan cities like Washington, D.C., people just don’t eat well enough or exercise often enough. Fewer than a quarter of all Americans are getting the amount of exercise recommended by experts, according to the CDC. And the highly processed foods that form the foundation of the typical American diet are extremely unhealthy, especially when compared to the far healthier whole (unprocessed) foods that experts say should be forming the bulk of our diets.
Then there’s the damage that we do to our minds. Most Americans, it seems, work too hard. Americans have a nasty habit of leaving vacation days on the table, and work-life balance is in especially poor shape in fast-paced cities like New York City and D.C. On top of that, many Americans (a stunning 40%, experts say) drink too much; that’s bad for both physical and mental health.
If all this sounds like you — if you’re working too hard, rushing around, stressing out, eating poorly, exercising too little, and/or knocking back a few too many drinks — then you should strongly consider making changes to your lifestyle to improve your health.
Making essential changes
You already know what you need to do to improve the impact your lifestyle has on your physical health. You need to eat better and exercise more. But how can you help your mental health, and how might doing so help you stick to your guns and actually make the changes that will benefit your physical health?
For starters, you could consider therapy. Therapy is something that should be a much more typical part of people’s daily lives, say the experts at Therapy Group of DC. Therapy has a powerful ability to change our outlook on our problems and give us strategies for coping with stress, negative thinking, and other problems that exist inside and outside of our minds. Therapy could help you take better care of your mental health and may even help you find the motivation to stick to your diet and exercise plans.
Self-care is critical, too. Self-care is anything that you do to improve your health (any aspect of your health, from physical health to mental and emotional health). It should make you feel good, but it shouldn’t be something unhealthy (like drinking alcohol). Choosing an active hobby that clears your mind is a great way to combine self-care with something that will improve your physical health. Plus, being physically healthy is good for your mental health, so this will create virtuous cycle.
However you choose to alter your lifestyle, you should keep sustainability in mind. Make small, incremental changes and focus on building habits, not making big short-term changes. In the long run, you want to change your whole lifestyle for the better.
To read more on topics like this, check out the health category.