In this stressful and ever-changing world, It seems life gets busier and time moves faster week by week. Some mornings I get going and before I know it, I look at the clock to discover it is 3 pm and I haven’t eaten anything yet. When I get stressed out, or too busy, eating and sleeping are the first things to go. Many of us get in this habit of letting our basic needs slip to the back burner when we become overwhelmed. We know this will have consequences, however, we are used to putting our own needs aside and running on empty to meet deadlines or make others happy. When we don’t tend to our own basic needs, our mental health suffers. One of the best things you can do for your mind and body is to make sure you are getting proper sleep, food, and exercise.
We all know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep has serious consequences on our physical and mental health as well as our memory. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers ages 14-17 require 8-10 hours of sleep, and adults ages 18-64 need 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. Having a good bedtime routine can help you wind down and get ready to sleep. After a while, your brain gets used to the routine and realizes these activities means it is time for sleep. Limiting alcohol, caffeine, and screen time in the evening will also help you wind down and sleep better.
Eating healthy, balanced meals gives your body the fuel it needs to think, create, and move through the day. Make sure you are not skipping meals. If you can, include a variety of colors and foods from each level of the food pyramid on your plate to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs. Poor diet and overconsumption of sugar have an adverse impact on mental health.
Our bodies were meant to move! Physical exercise improves our overall health. Getting a light 20-30 minute exercise each day can improve our mental health and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Make sure you take movement breaks throughout your day.
Lifestyle modification can have a great impact on our overall mental health. While we all have been told since childhood, the importance of eating healthy, getting a good night’s sleep, and exercising, these important basic needs often still get overlooked. Building a weekly routine can help ensure we are meeting these needs. Just as children and teenagers need routine and structure, adults benefit from it as well. Try to schedule time in your day for a movement break, a healthy snack or meal. Set a bedtime and try your best to stick to it. Over time you may notice positive changes. Remember that building routine and habit takes time so have compassion for yourself.