Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Blaine J. Fowers

Second Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Third Committee Member

Lydia P. Buki

Fourth Committee Member

John E. Lewis


Many lifestyle behaviors such as diet, exercise, and sleep are related to physical and mental health. However, very little research has been done on the day-to-day influence of these activities on both psychological distress (PD) and more holistic conceptions of overall well-being. This study seeks to investigate the patterns of common lifestyle behaviors and their relationships with daily PD and well-being. The central research questions are 1) what lifestyle behaviors are associated with PD and well-being, and 2) do the seven lifestyle behaviors predict the three outcome variables at different degrees of strength? Seventy-six adult participants were recruited online and completed daily diary surveys about their participation in a variety of lifestyle behaviors, PD symptoms, and well-being for up to 14 days. The data were analyzed using multilevel modeling to illuminate the day-to-day fluctuations in variables that cannot be explored in cross-sectional or large-interval longitudinal research. Examining multiple lifestyle behaviors simultaneously in these exploratory analyses allowed for a comparison of their relative impact on distress and well-being, thus revealing those behaviors that have the greatest average association with PD and well-being. At the within-person level, time spent in social interaction was the most consistent predictor of PD and well-being. Consumption of fruits and vegetables and exercise also generally positively predicted well-being. Depending on the model, time spent outside, meditation and alcohol intake were also occasionally associated with the dependent variables. T-tests revealed some differences in the strengths of the associations and with social interaction being a stronger positive predictor of well-being relative to other lifestyle behaviors. This project built on other early investigations into daily activities and well-being and the results may inform the development of future lifestyle interventions.


Lifestyle Behaviors; Well-being; Psychological Distress; Exercise; Diet; Social Interaction