Welcome back to the Do It Yourself Depression Treatment Program.
In yesterday’s video we talked about the three pillars of good mental health. In today’s video we’re going to focus on one of those pillars, namely the biological factors.
The biological factors of good mental health are made up of a wide range of sub-categories. We have; eating habits, sleeping habits, routines, hygiene, exercise and the exposure to sunlight.
In this lesson, you’ll find that each category will affect your mental health in a different way.
How Eating Habits Impact Mental Health
Let’s start by taking a look at eating habits.
There are many ways in which our eating habits affect our mental health. We won’t be able to touch upon all of them in this video.
However, the area that has the highest impact on mental health is blood sugar levels.
Our blood sugar levels fluctuate during the day and depending on our diet the level of fluctuation will vary.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels affect our mental health in two ways.
One, they cause severe mood swings that make us more susceptible to ruminating negative thoughts.
Two, the mood swings caused by our fluctuating blood sugar levels lower our inhibition. This can lead us to doing things that we regret.
Now, there are many diets out there that can lower blood sugar levels. The key is to eat less sugar and carbohydrates and to eat at regular times throughout the day.
How Sleeping Habits Affect Mental Health
Let’s move on to our next category, sleeping habits.
Needless to say, having high-quality sleep on a regular basis is essential to our mental health. While we sleep, our brain undergoes several crucial processes that contribute to emotional regulation, cognitive functioning and overall psychological resilience.
A good night’s sleep helps the brain to organize and store information gathered throughout the day. It also helps with emotional processing and with regulating hormones like cortisol which is released in response to stress.
In other words, having too little sleep will leave you susceptible to confusion, mood-swings, stress and ruminating negative thoughts.
On the other hand, oversleeping, which also is common in people suffering from depression, will leave you feeling groggy, lethargic and lacking motivation.
The most effective way of improving your sleeping habits is to make changes in your sleeping environment. Turn down the lights an hour before bedtime, don’t have any electronics in your bedroom, make sure the bedroom is not too warm and not too cold. Also, make sure to have a set sleeping schedule.
If these changes don’t help, consider taking melatonin but make sure to consult your doctor first.
How Good Routines Improve Mental Health
Now let’s move onto routines.
Routines are our only way of achieving a sense of predictability in a world characterized by uncertainty and stress.
Knowing what to expect each day can alleviate anxiety. It also helps us to manage the overwhelming nature of modern life. Having good daily routines can also reduce the amount of decisions you have to make and can make it easier to handle unexpected changes.
Incorporating other aspects of good mental health into your routines, such as the social factors that you will learn about in the next video, and your sleeping habits etc, will increase the likelihood of you overcoming your depression.
When someone becomes depressed, routines are usually the first to go and since motivation levels decrease during depression, it can be hard to implement new routines and maintain them.
My suggestion is to start off simple. Concentrate on morning and bedtime routines and go from there. Improve your routines over time by incorporating new parts and if you’re having trouble maintaining your routines, ask a friend to keep you accountable.
How Our Hygiene Impacts Our Mental Health
Let’s take a look at our next category, hygiene.
Needless to say, hygiene is a reflection of our self-worth. People who are depressed often take short-cuts with their hygiene or quit maintaining it all together. Although, this may be for a lack of energy rather than a lack of insight, the effect that hygiene has on one’s self-confidence should not be understated.
Simply maintaining base-level hygiene standards, will not only increase your own perception of your self-worth, it will also increase alertness and social acceptance.
We all want to think that society is going to accept us no matter how we look, but in this case, it’s not about how society sees you, it’s about how you see yourself.
So, mustering up that little bit of energy to wash your face and brush your teeth, even in the toughest of times, will do a lot to kickstart your fight against depression.
A Little Bit Of Exercise And Sunshine Can Go A Long Way To Improving Your Mental Health
Now for our last two categories, exercise and sunshine.
I am sure that you are aware of what effect exercise has on the body. But it also does a lot for the mind as well. Not only in the short-term but raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels but also in the long-term by improving your daily routines and self-esteem.
And for those of you who see a day at the gym as an arduous task, don’t worry. A brisk 30-minute walk a day will do the trick.
Those of you who live in the far north and far south of the world will know that sunlight (or more precisely the vitamin D that we receive from sunlight) is also an important component in our mental wellbeing.
Fortunately, the dose of sunlight you need per day is the same as your prescription for exercise. So, make sure you get out of the house or office for at least 30 minutes a day for a walk or light jog.
That’s A Wrap For Today!
Now before I wrap up today’s video, let me tell you a little about “reverse engineering” depression.
When we fall into a depression, each pillar of mental health (them being the biological, social and psychological factors) will fall with us and, over time, the sub-categories within each pillar will also fall.
When we reverse engineer a depression we build a framework around each sub-category of each pillar. This will allow us to rebuild the pillars of good mental health and to rid ourselves of depression permanently.
In this lesson, you have received the framework for the sub-categories; eating habits, sleeping habits, routines, hygiene, exercise and sunshine, within the pillar biological factors. Now it is up to you to build it.
A transcript of this video has been provided on this page. Feel free to look back at it whenever you need to. For those of you who have signed up to Wherapy+ (a subscription service that offers online mental health courses) worksheets will be available as well.
Now do your best to work on the biological factors and I’ll see you next week to talk about the social factors of mental health.
Thank you very much and have a great day!