What are Lifestyle Changes?

“Mens sana in corpore sano” is a Latin phrase, usually translated as “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. This speaks to how the mind, brain and body are inextricably linked. For this reason, an integrative psychiatry treatment plan would consider lifestyle changes that improve the overall health of your brain and body to help optimise your mental health and well-being.

Positive lifestyle changes have been shown to improve a person’s mental health. Such changes include optimising diet and sleep quality, incorporating regular exercise, reducing the use of substances, lowering stress, and building and maintaining your social support system.



Eating well nourishes your brain and body, which is important for overall health and well-being. Eating well involves, for example, the incorporation of whole foods into your diet, reducing processed foods and sugar intake, drinking adequate water, and limiting alcohol. Nutritional Psychiatry is the practice of integrating food into your broader treatment plan to improve your mental health.


Sleep is closely related to your mental health, with evidence to date pointing to a bidirectional relationship. This means that having poor sleep can both contribute to and worsen mental health conditions. People go into different sleep stages during their sleep cycle, with each stage playing a different role in brain health, such as cognition, emotional and mental health. The Australian Sleep Health Foundation recommends that adults (aged 18 to 64) get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Interventions that optimise your sleep can improve mental health symptoms and better your chance of recovery and therefore are an important consideration in your integrative treatment plan.



Research shows that regular exercise can reduce stress and symptoms and improve your recovery from mental health issues. Exercising stimulates the chemicals in the brain that can improve your mood, memory, and learning. There are many benefits of exercise for your mental and physical health, such as helping you to feel better, improving your sleep, and lowering your risk of other illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Therefore, integrating exercise into your treatment plan can be another intervention that helps you in your mental health recovery.

Substance use reduction

Using substances such as tobacco, drugs, and alcohol can increase your chance of developing a mental health condition and could worsen a current mental health condition. Reducing the use of substances is considered another lifestyle treatment option that could not only improve one’s physical health but also their mental health.


Stress reduction

Everyone experiences stress from time to time, and not all stress is harmful. However, experiencing a high level of stress over time may increase your chance of developing a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression. Increased stress may also worsen a current mental health condition. Therefore, taking an active role in reducing and managing your stress can help you to feel better and deal more effectively with life’s challenges. There are various strategies that people find helpful in reducing their level of stress, and such strategies may be incorporated into your integrative treatment plan.

Social support

It is important not to deal with your mental health condition completely on your own. Having a social support system of people who care and make it easy for you to be yourself can be very helpful in improving your physical and mental health, whether this involves family members, friends, neighbours, co-workers or a support group. Building and maintaining your support network is another important lifestyle factor that should be considered in a personalised treatment plan.