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New year, a brand new you! Exercise, healthy food can improve mental health

After living through 2021, another year of the coronavirus pandemic, it is time for us to embrace a seriously compassionate attitude of putting more focus on self-development and mental health in 2022. We are facing numerous uncertainties because of the pandemic — including increased morbidity and mortality, economic instability, volatile markets and struggling businesses, among others. This is undoubtedly the biggest health event that has happened in the past four generations, and we are still struggling to see an end to it.

As many of us have started thinking about New Year’s resolutions, it is the best time for us to prioritise a physically and mentally healthy and fit lifestyle in 2022. Data suggests that physical activity and exercise benefit mental health. While exercising may not be able to cure mental illnesses, it can provide important benefits for overall well-being and can relieve symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.


Stress can cause illness, and illness can cause stress.

Stress can cause illness, and illness can cause stress. As exercising improves overall health and longevity, it can help us fight off stress to a great deal. Physical activity and exercising have also been found to enhance mood, improve energy levels, develop stamina and promote good quality sleep. Exercise decreases stress hormones such as cortisol and increases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals of the body. Exercise can also promote confidence as one can maintain a healthy weight and physique and enhance one’s strength.

Dr Sahir Jamati is the Head of Department of Psychology, Masina Hospital, MumbaiAgencies

Dr Sahir Jamati is the Head of Department of Psychology, Masina Hospital, Mumbai

A large proportion of the population has faced several problems because of the pandemic. After Covid waves in 2020 and 2021, people are still dealing with the uncertainty of new waves. This can cause apprehension. A large number of people have not taken vacations or even visited the mall or gym for a while now. They have stayed indoors for a considerable amount of time to be safe. But staying indoors for such lengthy periods has not proven to be healthy for many, leading to several people giving priority to health like never before.

The pandemic made us reassess various aspects of life and the way we approach our fitness. People started recognising the importance of a healthy diet and a good daily workout regime. Home workouts, yoga routines, technology assisted fitness regimes, virtual workout classes, diets to keep mind and body healthy, online aerobics classes, zumba, dancing and other forms of activities became the choice for most of us to remain mentally and physically fit. People have also started showing an interest in tracking their stress levels, boosting immune system, improving gut health and incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives.

Small changes in lifestyle can help you stay fit physically and keep you mentally stable. Find an ideal workout plan. Lower your intake of salt, refined sugars and carbohydrates and caffeine. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits, drink an adequate quantity of water, take regular breaks and relax between hectic schedules. Sleep well and continuously for a minimum of 7 hours. Fill your life with laughter and fun. That way, you would be better prepared to deal with most problems in life.

Dr Sahir Jamati is the Head of Department of Psychology, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.