Lifestyle Modifications

Healthy lifestyle modification involves replacing long-term habits with newer, healthier ones.  

 

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Healthy Diet

"Nutritional Psychiatry" is an emerging field of psychiatry where  research is being conducted to learn more about the connection between mental health and nutrition.   Although the causes of mental illnesses are complex, there is evidence to support that diet is important in maintaining physical and emotional well-being.

We recommend eating a balanced, nutrient dense diet with minimal processed foods and sugar.  Finding foods that contain the following nutrients can be helpful for preventing mental illness: B12 vitamin, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and natural probiotics.  Foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark chocolate and blueberries, can reduce free radicals that contribute to chronic disease. 

Although diet can be an essential part of a treatment plan, it should not be a substitute for medicine or other treatments when medically necessary.


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Exercise

Exercise improves mental health by reducing depression, anxiety, and negative mood, and by improving cognitive function and self-esteem.  It is hypothesized that physical activity increases blood circulation to the brain and influences the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to reduce stress.  Physical activity can also lead to increased socialization.  Individuals who take certain psychotropic medications, such as  atypical antipsychotics, are at increased risk of weight gain and should exercise regularly.

We do not recommend a specific exercise, as everyone has different needs and preferences.  We do recommend that you STAY ACTIVE and exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week.


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Sleep Hygiene

Sleep problems are common in people with mental conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Insomnia can be a symptom of mental illness and it can also increase the risk of developing some psychiatric disorders.  We recommend adjusting your sleeping habits with good sleep hygiene practices as a first step to managing insomnia.  These simple recommendations increase your ability to fall asleep and maintain consistent, restorative sleep.  

  • Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, and some medications) at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid using tobacco products and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Make a sleep friendly environment in the bedroom: keep the temperature moderate, keep the noise to a minimum, keep the room dark (or use an eye cover), and use a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Use the bed for sleep (or sex) only to strengthen the mental association with the bedroom and sleep.
  • Maintain a relaxing betime routine prior to bed, such as drinking a decaffeinated tea or reading a book.
  • Go to sleep when you are actually tired.
  • Expose yourself to natural light when you wake up (open the blinds or go outside).
  • Avoid napping.
  • Avoid large, heavy meals at night.
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.