The two lifestyle changes were more effective in stabilizing Psychological health From interacting with friends, following a routine, or taking up hobbies.
The study, conducted by researchers in Barcelona, monitored 942 Spanish adults for one year.
At regular 2-week intervals, participants were asked to rate how often they used 10 different coping behaviors, and their levels of anxiety and depression.
By following a balanced diet, and not reading the news about Covid-19 updates often, physical exercise, staying outdoors and drinking water were associated with better conditioning.
Some behaviors that were seen as beneficial, such as talking with relatives and friends or taking up a hobby, had less of an impact on people’s mental health.
Dr. Joaquim Radua, the study’s lead researcher, said the results were “a bit surprising”.
“Like many people, we hypothesized that personal contact would play a larger role in avoiding anxiety and depression during stressful times,” said Radua.
“On the basis of these findings, we recommend that everyone follow a healthy/balanced diet, avoid watching stressful news too much, spend more time outdoors, engage in relaxing activities, and do physical exercise.”
Radwa said that while the study focused on people’s mental health during Covid-19, more research could explore whether these factors could be applied to other stressful conditions.
“These simple behaviors may prevent anxiety and depression, and prevention is better than cure,” Radwa said.
Professor Catherine Harmer, of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, who was not involved in the study, said the study provides “important insights” but more testing is needed.
“Future work is needed to test whether these associations are causal – are these behaviors causing an improvement in mood or could it be the other way around – because we feel better and begin to engage more positively with our environment?”
A report published by the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research in October 2021 found that the prevalence of Depression and anxiety worldwide increased by more than a quarter during the first year of the epidemic.
The scientists concluded that there were an additional 53 cases of major depressive disorder, and 76 million cases of anxiety.