Thursday, October 10 marks World Mental Health Day 2019, celebrated every year to help raise awareness and support of mental health issues around the world. To help you take care of your own mental health, today and throughout the year, here we round up four lifestyle changes that can be easily made to help boost our mental well-being.
Give up alcohol
A new study published earlier this year, which looked at 10,386 adults, found that both men and women who were lifetime abstainers from alcohol had the highest level of mental well-being at the start of the study. In addition, women who were moderate drinkers -- defined as seven drinks or less per week -- and who quit drinking during the study, benefited from a boost to their mental health, with levels of mental well-being close to those of lifetime abstainers within four years of quitting.
Reduce the time you spend on social media
With the rise of social media, many studies have looked into its effect on our mental health. A UK study that surveyed 12,866 teens aged 13 to 16 found that checking one's phone several times a day was associated with lower mental well-being, especially in young girls, possibly due to social media use affecting sleep and physical activity, which are linked with improved mental health. A US study which looked at adults who spent one hour a day on Facebook also found that those who quit the social media site not only reported feeling happier, but also increased their time spent doing offline activities such as socializing with family and friends.
Eat less junk food and more fruit and vegetables
Increasing the amount of fruit and veggies in your diet could also give your mental health a boost. In a study published earlier this year, US researchers looked at data gathered from 245,891 telephone surveys and found that adults who ate a high consumption of unhealthy food, such as French fries, fast food, and soda and a lower consumption of healthy food, such as fruits and vegetables, were more likely to report symptoms of either moderate or severe psychological distress than those who ate a healthier diet. The researchers added that the findings are in line with those from other studies carried out in other countries, which have also found a link between a poor diet and mental illness.
Try taking a nutritional supplement
In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, results published last month from the world's largest-ever review on nutritional supplements and mental health symptoms suggested that taking certain supplements could help with some mental health conditions, when taken in conjunction with conventional treatments. The research, which looked at 33 meta-analyses with a total of 10,951 people, found strong evidence that omega-3 could help reduce depressive symptoms more than antidepressants alone, and some evidence that the amino acid N-acetylcysteine could be beneficial for mood disorders and schizophrenia. Certain folate supplements may also be effective for major depression and schizophrenia.