It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fast-paced lifestyles led by people today have led to disturbingly high cases of mental illness. According to a report by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011, the consumption of antidepressants has increased by 400% since 1990. The same agency has also pointed out that one in ten Americans suffer from some form of depression. This is a global phenomenon and not something limited to geography. Technology and connectivity have changed lifestyles and patterns around the globe and the effect is for all to see.

According to a study in 2010 by the Global Burden of Diseases, conducted with the data obtained from 187 countries, mental disorders and substance abuse combined to create the largest non-fatal illness casualties around the world. It can be safely assumed that there has not been much change in the pattern since. However, what has changed is a growing awareness about one’s mental well-being and health. Everything from high strung jobs to bad dietary habits can contribute to your deteriorating mental health. Things as simple as not getting enough sunshine or enough sleep could be driving you towards depression and adding to your stress.

There are little things that can be done through the course of the day that can help you keep your mind refreshed and healthy. Simple changes in diet and a regular exercise can go a long way in keeping you balanced and alert. But the effort begins with recognizing the problem.

Identify the issue

There are several varied symptoms of mental illness, both physiological and behavioral and they often change from person to person. But there are some basic warning signs that should always throw up red flags in your mind if you observe them happening to you or someone you know.

– Feeling withdrawn from the world once in a while is okay, if it continues for days on end it could be a bigger problem

– If you find that your functioning has dropped much below your usual average; be it in terms of your work, giving up on sports and exercise, or even avoiding meeting friends, it could be a problem

– If you face problems in concentration or have lapses in memory it is important you consult a doctor. Any problems with logical thought and speech that are hard to explain should be taken into account

– Loss of initiative and general apathetic behavior along with a feeling of disconnection from the place you are in could spell trouble

– Change in sleep patterns and appetite patterns, that could be tending towards too much or too little, must be noted and could be pointing to a bigger problem

– Extreme mood swings that repeat often and generally nervous behavior is not normal and could be the manifestation of a deeper problem

These symptoms, individually, or put together, more often than not are symptoms of a deeper psychological and mental issue. It needs attention at the earliest. However, simple modifications in your lifestyle could also be just as helpful as medication, maybe even more so.

Making mental wellness a lifestyle

Practice meditation

Recognized by medical practitioners and individuals the world over as one of the most effective relaxation techniques, meditation not only gives you an opportunity to center yourself it also relaxes you. Practicing deep breathing along with meditation can help you lower your blood pressure and hypertension. It is easy to do and requires just a little bit of patience and persistence on your part.

Give yourself some time

It is essential to steal out time for yourself. It could be you taking a walk to the nearby coffee shop or simply a fifteen minute stroll to get your mind off work. Taking some time out for yourself from the day is essential so as to keep you fresh and helps you focus better when you get back at work. These little breaks from the stress at work, or at home, can be an absolute winner for your mental health.

Exercise

This can never be emphasized enough, physical fitness translates into mental fitness and vice versa, one invariably feeds the other. It is essential to work out on a regular basis to keep the endorphins flowing and your body at its peak functioning. Exercise increases your heart rate and boosts your metabolism over and above being a brilliant stress buster.

Indulge in a hobby

Find yourself something you love and keep at it. If you want to paint find yourself some time every day or every weekend to paint. Be it writing, gardening, cooking or painting, not only are they therapeutic they can also give an individual a sense of pride and achievement essential to their mental well-being.

Get enough sleep and a healthy diet

Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal, anything more or less can cause problems in the long run. A diet heavy in processed food is proven to have adverse effects on one’s mental well-being. Eating more fruits, fish, whole grains and vegetables can go a long way in keeping the body’s hormonal balance, something essential to one’s mental well-being as well.

What do you think?

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