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The relationship between mental health and diet, physical exercise and sleep

SHA Wellness Clinic
October 10, 2022
A healthy diet, daily exercise and a good night’s sleep are essential for an optimal state of well-being.

World Mental Health Day has been celebrated on 10 October since 1992. The aim of this initiative is to raise awareness and educate the public about different mental disorders, promoting projects that improve care for those who suffer from them and to counter the social stigma that many of them suffer from.

As Cinthya Molina, psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic, explains, “the World Health Organisation defines mental health not only as the absence of mental disorders, but as a complete and balanced state of physical, mental and social well-being in which each person can develop their full capacities, cope with the normal stresses of everyday life, work productively and contribute to the community. In short, it implies a positive state that combines individual well-being with being a functional member of society”.

Learning to manage stress and negative emotions is the first step towards good mental health. But other factors, such as diet, physical activity and sleep, also play an essential role. That is why the SHA Method integrates different yet complementary medical disciplines and natural therapies, enhancing the benefits they would have separately, to provide a global response to mental disorders. We combine cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy sessions, which, as scientific evidence has shown, is the only therapy that reduces the symptoms of depressive disorder, with personalised nutrition and physical activity plans and recommendations for proper sleep hygiene.


  1. Nutrition

María Romeralo, nutritionist at SHA, says that “healthy and balanced nutrition is essential for good mental health. In fact, a diet rich in refined sugars and ultra-processed foods leads to a lot of emotional instability and is one of the causes associated with depression. To clear up the mental fog that prevents you from developing your cognitive abilities to the fullest, fill your shopping cart with seasonal fruit and vegetables (which is also the most sustainable option), whole grains, pulses, vegetable proteins, nuts and seeds and you’ll soon notice how the emotional ups and downs disappear”.


  1. Exercise

Regular exercise not only strengthens the immune system, but also helps people reach an optimal state of well-being. “Feeling good physically is essential when it comes to good mental health”, says José Luis Tabueña, physiotherapist at SHA. “The body secretes hormones like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine when we exercise, helping to release tension and control stress, reduce anxiety, promote restful sleep and increase energy levels”.


  1. Sleep

When you don’t get enough sleep, you wake up tired and with low energy, are more irritable and could have a decline in cognitive abilities. Bruno Ribeiro, head of SHA’s Cognitive and Emotional Health Unit, says that “when we don’t sleep well we accumulate psychological fatigue and our cognitive functions aren’t able to fully recover, which affects our physical, mental and intellectual performance. The brain also triggers cleansing mechanisms during sleep to eliminate cellular waste. But toxins build up if you don’t get proper sleep and, over time, they can cause certain disorders, such as dementia”.


For more tips on how to take care of your mental health, Click here


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