I’m participating in Movember this year to raise awareness of men’s mental health issues and raise some funds toward supporting this cause. To make any donations, please visit: www.mobro.co/patgudhka
I promised to educate myself on men’s health issues this month and came across a heartbreaking stat this morning. Did you know that at least 4 males commit suicide in Australia every single day? That’s 1,406 men a year. (Source: ABS 2013 data released March 2015)
Depression is a primary driver of suicide and although some forms of it may not be entirely preventable due to it being triggered by chemical malfunction of the brain, I spent a bit of time reading up on habits and lifestyle approaches that play a part in preventing and delaying its progression which offer long-term mental health benefits. Three stood out to me as they are simple changes that one can make that seem to have incredible effects on depression as well as general well-being so even if you don’t suffer from depression, these are worth noting.
We know physical activity is great for our physical health, but many discount just how much it can improve on the symptoms of depression, anxiety and lift our overall mood. You don’t have to sign up for marathons (trust me, I’m far from doing that), but engaging in almost any type of physical activity for at least 30mins, three to five times a week can be great.
From personal experience, I’ve noticed that increasing my daily steps from 6000 to 10000 early this year and now to 15000 by walking from home to work and back, I feel more energetic physically and mentally, have a better attitude and a much quicker bounce back time for when things in my day go sour. As a bonus, I have plenty of time to listen to podcasts I follow. Is there anything you can do to add active time in your day?
Getting Enough Sleep
I cannot raise this point enough. Disturbances in sleep cycles have been linked to depression therefore it’s very important to get quality sleep. Here are a few things that I’ve learnt from experts and lifestyle entrepreneurs I follow that have improved my quality of sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily when possible. This has meant early starts on Saturday and Sunday as well (a sleep in for me would be 9am).
- Avoid screens 2 hours before (blue light disrupts the natural body behaviour that encourages sleep at the end of the day by supressing melatonin release). If you’re like me and need to check your smartphone before bed, use apps to invert the colours and eliminate blue light.
- Sleep in 90 minute increments as each 90 minute block contains four non-REM stages and one REM stage (dream time) that your body needs. If you wake up after a 90 minute cycle you often wake up refreshed as you’re not interrupting any stages – I found this website useful in calculating wake up times so that I could enjoy five 90 min sleep cycles: http://sleepyti.me
Of course, depression is also a cause for insomnia so it can be a catch 22 treating both depression and insomnia. I came across this link which shares options that may help in such scenarios.
Watching Alcohol Intake
If you or anyone you know is prone to feeling depressed, pay attention to alcohol intake. Not only is it a mood-altering depressant drug, but if you’re at risk of depression you are also at risk of alcohol abuse and developing alcoholism.
Something I try to practice is a two-drink cap. If I go into a social night with that mindset, I find that I am more likely to stick to it – sure there have have been exceptions to this rule but the more I’m aware of it, the less I am likely to binge.
I hope these three points helps in some shape or form, and I plan to post more in the days to come. If you want to share anything that you’ve found useful or want me to do a bit of research into any particular men’s health issues, let me know in the comments below.