We all face periods of poor mental health. Performance reviews at work, conflict in relationships, world issues, money worries, the death of a loved one, and even moving all put strain on your mental health. Today, Andrea sat down with author Charles Hanna to discuss mental health, addiction, and the importance of self care. Take a look at their discussion and read below for natural ways to support your mental health by nurturing and protecting yourself.
It’s important to note that people who have a severe mental illness often require medication to help manage or correct chemical imbalances, and behavioral changes should not replace medication prescribed by a doctor. But for the average person who is going through a rough patch or is feeling like they’re in a mental slump, there are natural ways to support mental health.
Water is essential to our overall health — our bodies are about two-thirds water, after all. But keeping hydrated isn’t just essential for a well-working body. Dehydration has a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, from headache to fatigue to trouble concentrating. It also can affect your moods. Be sure to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water daily to ensure your body is adequately hydrated.
Eating the right foods has a huge impact on how well you feel. Eating regular and healthy meals helps support neurotransmission, the signals that your brain sends to tell your body what to do. When you’re not eating well, these signals don’t always connect properly, and that can increase feelings of irritability and anxiety.
Try to include proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, or legumes in every meal. Eat lots of high-fiber fruits and vegetables, and be sure to eat foods that are rich in essential fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, and olive oil. On the flip side, avoid caffeine and sugar. Caffeine is fine when you’re up, but when your body starts to go through caffeine withdrawal, your feelings of irritability increase. Sugary foods and drinks destabilize your blood sugar levels, causing fluctuations in mood and behavior.
Hit the Gym
Regular exercise is a natural stress-reliever that will help improve your mood considerably. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise reduces anxiety and depression, and that exercise improves self-esteem and cognitive function, which also help relieve negative moods.
Aerobic workouts such as spin and step classes also help boost endorphins, the feel-good hormones that have an antidepressant effect on the brain. Yoga is another great exercise for improving your mood. The emphasis on deep breathing is calming, and meditation at the end of many yoga classes will help release anxiety and calm your mind. Just 30 minutes of exercise at least three days each week will help plenty, but try to work some form of exercise into your daily routine.
Get Lots of Sleep
Sleep is an integral part of good mental health, yet according to the Sleep Association, about 60 million Americans suffer from frequent or extended periods of insomnia. When you sleep, your body recharges and your mind resets for a new day. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your mind and body will feel sluggish, and your mood will suffer.
The good news is there are plenty of natural ways to catch some zees. First and foremost, try to get to bed earlier. The best sleep for adults occurs between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., so if you’re staying up late, you’re missing out on a good night’s rest. If your mind is too busy to sleep, try calming scents such as vanilla, sandalwood, bergamot, lavender, or chamomile.
Supporting your body with good food, plenty of water, regular exercise, and proper rest will help support your mental health as well.