Lifestyle habits are the actions a person takes on a daily basis to maintain good physical and psychological health. If you’re wondering what’s causing your lack of energy or your depressed mood, it’s possible that the cause is partly linked to your lifestyle habits (e.g., the quality of your diet, a lack of sleep or a sedentary lifestyle that goes on a little too long). This is generally what happens when we forget to prioritize ourselves and take time for self-care.

Not everything has to be perfect but questioning your lifestyle habits and making a few changes can certainly benefit your mental health.  

HOW CAN YOU ADOPT HEALTHY HABITS DAILY? 

Boost your energy

Each food has its own particular nutritional properties, providing nutrients that are important for the proper functioning of the human body and brain. Even if they don’t all have the same nutritional value, there’s no such thing as bad food. The important thing is to find the right balance and variety in your diet.  

Get moving

Not only does physical activity help prevent many physical health problems and boost energy levels, but it also improves our sense of well-being. Yes, physical activity stimulates our neurotransmitters and increases the production of various hormones linked to well-being, while reducing cortisol (the stress hormone). 

Get more sleep

The stress of studying is very demanding on the body and brain! There’s no better way than sleep to restore your energy reserves and be able to process new information efficiently later on. 

Manage screen time

The benefits of technological devices are many, but it’s good to be aware of the physical, psychological, and social consequences. Excessive use of social networks can contribute to low self-esteem and increased stress, anxiety, and depression.

Relaxation

Making relaxation and meditation part of your daily routine is a great way to reduce stress and save energy.

Key elements for integrating lifestyle changes

  • Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to integrate changes into your lifestyle.  
  • To counteract declining motivation, surround yourself with people who have similar lifestyle habits to yours or to those you want to integrate. 
  • You can afford to deviate. A good lifestyle taken to extremes (e.g., overtraining or a very strict diet) can be harmful to your physical and mental health.  
  • If you want to make a change in your lifestyle, it’s best to focus on one goal at a time and not hesitate to ask for help if you run into difficulties.  

SLEEP: YOUR ALLY FOR GOOD MENTAL HEALTH! 

Here are 4 potential effects of sleep deprivation on your mental health.  

  1. Effects on your mood: There’s nothing worse for your mood than the sound of an alarm clock after just a few hours of sleep. On those sleep-deprived days, it’s not uncommon to feel more irritable and stressed. 
  2. Effects on your thoughts: In college or university, it’s not uncommon to pull an all-nighter to study for an exam, but this method can do more harm than good. Indeed, sleep deprivation makes it harder to concentrate, solve problems or make decisions. 
  3. Effects on your behaviour: Between work and school, we often don’t have enough time for leisure activities that bring pleasure and well-being. The more you fill up on energy during the night, the more energy you’ll have to take time for yourself and engage in enriching activities! 
  4. Effects on your body: Sleep is a basic need, and constantly going about one’s daily business without adequate sleep is demanding on the body. The body becomes increasingly tired and less able to fight off viruses.    

All these effects are well known to people living with a sleep disorder. If this is your case, don’t hesitate to seek information, tools, or professional help to improve your situation. 

As a complement, you can watch these two videos in which Jérémie and David talk about lifestyle habits related to cell phone use and consumerism respectively.

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References

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Association canadienne de santé mentale. (2019) 4 effets du manque de sommeil sur la santé mentale

Institut national de santé publique du Québec. (2015) Bouger pour être en bonne santé… mentale!

Pause . Pour un usage des écrans qui nous fait du bien

Université de Sherbrooke. (2020) Soigner son sommeil

Credits

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Illustrations : Mario Fontaine

Contribution to the article : Isabelle Queval, psychologist

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