Diet, Exercise, and Sleep are Pillars of Mental Health, Study Finds

Mental health plays a vital part in a person’s daily life. It can affect a person’s emotions and physical health. Furthermore, if a person is mentally disturbed, it can change the way they act and feel.

Moreover, a person’s life, relationships, work, and physical factors can also affect mental health as Stress, anxiety, depression disrupts a person’s overall health.

Improper mental health is a mental disorder, so most people don’t accept that they have it. However, in the year 2020, several cases of mental disorders showed up around the world.

For sustained mental health, experts suggest that there are three essential pillars.

  1. Good sleep
  2. Exercise
  3. Raw fruits and veggies

In this article, we will discuss the three pillars and the symptoms of mental health.

ScienceDaily shares a discussion on a mental health study held at the University of Otago.

The Study

A study was published in the Frontiers in Psychology. It revolved around a survey conducted on sleep, physical activity, diet, and mental health to understand how it affects people.

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So, eleven hundred young adults from the United States and New Zealand were a part of this study. The lead author of the study was Shay-Ruby Wickham, a master of science student at the time.

Three Pillars

The three pillars of mental health are essential for a healthy brain and active life. Whether it’s about work, relationships, academics, or sports, a mentally fit person can survive anywhere. So, it’s time to put the three pillars under the microscope.

Sleeping Pattern

Wickham explained that the quality of sleep plays a significant role in mental health. The quantity of sleep may not have a substantial impact unless you can maintain a steady sleeping habit. However, too much or too little sleep can be a sign of depression.

What’s important is to focus more on sleep quality rather than sleeping for an extended period.

According to the findings, young adults who slept 9.7 hours per night had low depressive symptoms. Also, those who slept 8 hours had chances of a healthy life.

Eating Healthy 

However, other than sleep, fruits and vegetables are also important for mental health. Wickham says.

Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients, which can help with mental disorders. Moreover, a healthy diet and good food can help uplift the mood.

Furthermore, both are important for physical health as healthy eating also boosts the immune system. A paper published in Social Science & Medicine in 2019 revealed that eating more fruits and veggies can reduce depression and anxiety.

Celery, cabbage, red onion, tomato, and mushrooms can help lift the mood. Also, they can help a person feel positive about themselves.

Daily Exercise

We know that workout helps our physical health. But can it also help our mental health? According to the findings by Wickham, physical exercise leaves our brain happy and healthy.

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Exercise can help relieve tension and Stress. Moreover, some people, when angry, hit the gym to blow off steam. 

Moreover, yoga can help you feel relaxed. It brings peace to your mind, allowing you to soothe your feelings. Lastly, daily physical activity can help you stay active and also uplift your mood.

The Result

Associate Professor Tamlin Conner was the senior author. She believes that eating, sleeping, and workout patterns help predict the state of mental health.

Moreover, she believes that overdoing one thing cannot help in reaping the benefits. To take proper care of mental health, one must focus on everything.

Early Warning Signs

Anxiety chart diagram.

If you’re unsure of having any mental problems, there is nothing to worry about. Generally, mental issues go unnoticed, mainly because of the lack of knowledge and consideration.

However, if you can spot changes in behavior and some early warning signs, it can help you figure out any possible mental disorders. 

Here are some early warning signs of mental problems:

  • Too much or lack of sleep
  • Being distant from friends and family
  • No interest in the usual activities
  • Low energy
  • Feeling like nothing matters
  • Experience pains and aches
  • Feeling like giving up
  • Complete despair and hopelessness
  • Drinking or using drugs more than usual
  • Smoking more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused and forgetful
  • Always on edge, angry and upset
  • Always being worried or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Start to experiencing delusions

Positive Mental Health

Positive mental health allows people to achieve their full potential. If a person has positive mental health, they can deal with any hardships life throws at them. Furthermore, it promotes good thoughts and behaviors.

An individual with a positive attitude can work more productively and efficiently. Moreover, they can also make meaningful contributions to the community.

How can you maintain positive mental health?

The first step of maintaining positive mental health is to acknowledge it. The second step is to get professional help. Only then, a specialist can help you overcome depression, anxiety, and other disorders.

Rather than staying alone, it is better to connect with others. Reach out to friends and family. Moreover, it is also vital to stay positive. Physical activity can help with keeping the Stress at bay.

Furthermore, helping others can also make you feel good about yourself. Also, getting a good night’s sleep influences a healthy attitude.

Lastly, a positive mental attitude can help you develop coping skills.


There are various treatments available for mental health. However, a single treatment may not work for everyone. Some work well compared to others.

Talking therapy

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists conduct talking therapies. An individual can share their problems which makes it easier to understand the root of the issues.


Prescribed medications can also help with mental illness. They may be antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytic drugs.

Medications cannot cure mental disorders, but help improve the symptoms. Furthermore, they can help an individual carry out their daily tasks.


Self-help is also essential for mental health. It can help a person deal with difficulties in their lifestyle. It includes taking care of yourself and keeping a balanced diet.


An individual should not be ashamed of mental health problems. They should seek help and try to make their life better. It can happen to anyone regardless of their age, race, or sex. 

Moreover, mental health problems have different levels. If not treated, it can even lead to serious health problems.

In short, the idea is to take care of your diet, sleep, and physical activity of the body.

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