Lifestyle and stress management

Introduction In this month’s edition of The Veterinarian, the fifth article in our six-part series on mental health explores the impact of lifestyle choices. We discuss the benefits of mindfulness, exercise, social connections, and the impact of time in nature on mental and physical wellbeing. There is a growing body of evidence supporting these practices, with many requiring only a small time commitment to reap great reward. As with all lifestyle changes, incorporating small incremental changes regularly is the key to success. Meditation and mindfulness Mindfulness practices can include meditation, breathing exercises, and movement such as yoga and tai chi. With all these practices, the main goal is to be present with the current moment. The benefits of incorporating mindfulness into your life include a reduction in stress, increased sense of wellbeing, reduced anxiety, improved mood and improved work-related performance1. Exercise Exercise is an important treatment option for people struggling with stress and anxiety disorders. Wider benefits include an overall positive impact on wellbeing and improved cardiovascular health2. For many, stress may reduce the desire to undertake exercise, however stress resilience can be improved by regular exercise1. Aerobic exercise and resistance training show the most significant anti-anxiety effects3, with the latest recommendations finding that 50 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise is associated with the greatest benefits1. Importantly, any exercise is better than no exercise, and even a10-minute walk can be beneficial. Social connections Countless studies show that social contact with friends, family and community can improve physical and mental wellbeing and extend the lifespan. A strong social network can protect against the perception of stress and help maintain stress resilience. Furthermore, immune health and inflammation may improve because of this1. Nature bathing Research has confirmed that spending time in nature is associated with lower levels of stress, and reduced symptoms of some mental health disorders. Even city dwellers with access to green spaces can improve their mental wellbeing by choosing to spend time in these areas. ’Bathing’ in nature or in green spaces such as city parks and gardens incidentally increases exercise levels and is often associated with social connection1.Nature therefore provides the means to improve mental wellbeing in many ways. Conclusion As we have covered so far in our series, it is not only diet and nutrition that can impact mental and physical wellbeing, – there are many other tools in the toolkit you can reach for to shift the dial on your own health. Stress resilience can be improved through mindfulness practices, regular daily exercise, connecting with loved ones and community and spending time in green spaces. In the final article in our mental health series, coming to you in December, we round out our discussion on the many and varied ways you can improve your mental wellbeing and stress resilience by discussing the importance of sleep. Without quality and adequate sleep, it is challenging to reach a state of optimal health, however there are many ways to implement changes and improve sleep habits and therefore improve wellbeing. References 1. Braun, L. (2021).Mental Wellbeing The essential guide to using herbs and nutritional supplements. 2.Stubbs, B., Vancampfort, D., Rosenbaum, S., Firth, J., Cosco, T., Veronese, N., Salum, G.A. and Schuch, F.B. (2017). An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, [online] 249, pp.102 – 108. doi: j.psychres.2016.12.020. 3. Vancampfort, D., Heissel, A., Waclawovsky,A., Stubbs, B., Firth, J., McGrath, R.L., Van Damme, T. and Schuch, F.B. (2022). Precision-based exercise in people with anxiety and stress related disorders: Are there interindividual differences in anxiolytic effects? An ancillarymeta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychiatry Research, 317, p.114803. doi:https://

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.