On this week’s blog, we share a guest post from blogger Michelle Joe. Enjoy :-)
In his TED talk, psychologist Guy Finch talks about how we show favoritism between our mental and physical wellbeing. He points out that when it comes to our physical health, we are always careful and accommodating.
When it comes to our mental wellness though, we show biases, paying little to no attention to it. What we don’t understand is that both the mind and body health are closely linked. In his book Descartes’ Error, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio talks about how the brain, emotions, and judgment are all interconnected.
In other words, poor mental health equates with poor physical health and vice versa. So, why do we end up neglecting our mental wellness? A 2015 study by the University of Illinois may have the answer. It learned that half of the individuals with mental illness admit that their healthcare provider gives them no wellness advice.
To save yourself from staying in the dark with your mental health though, here are some lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your health significantly:
1. Practice stress-reducing techniques
Stress and mental illness dance together in a vicious cycle, one feeds the other. Plus, if stress is left untreated, it can contribute to the risk of developing brain disorders. One way to prevent stress from showing its negative effects on your brain-tests is by practicing techniques that can help reduce it.
For instance, consider yoga and meditation. Yoga works wonders for lessening stress. Evidence by the Queen’s University shows that yoga can help you look at the world through a less pessimistic lens. This can significantly impact your wellbeing.
Similarly, meditation can also help. Research goes on to say that meditation can assist in improving anxiety and depression symptoms. Moreover, a study learned that participants who meditated for 25 minutes daily for three consecutive days were able to fight their stress.
2. Drink plenty of water
This lifestyle change may sound unimportant, but it is crucial for optimal brain health. Fluid intake impacts normal cognitive function. Even a mild drop in your dehydration can affect your concentration negatively. What’s more, mild dehydration can also negatively influence your mood.
Therefore, concentrate on increasing your fluid intake. However, be mindful about having water and other heavy beverages while limiting the consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine yields benefits such as improved attention in the short run and for those who don’t take it regularly.
In the long run, caffeine can steal your sleep and make you jittery and anxious. On the other hand, excessive alcohol unleashes its dehydrating effect. It can take your B-vitamin levels down, leaving you in the company of anxiety and depression.
3. Focus on eating healthy
Pay attention to adding brain-friendly foods, fruits, and vegetables to your diet. Researchers from the University of Warwick insist that veggies and fruits are associated with mental well-being including greater optimism, resilience, self-esteem, and happiness.
Besides vegetables and fruits, concentrate on including foods with a low glycemic index (GI) on your plate. Examples of these foods include whole-grain breakfast cereals, brown pasta, and wholemeal bread. This provides a steady glucose supply to the body, which benefits your memory, energy levels as well as mood.
The brain also demands omega-3 fatty acid. A decline in the levels of omega-3 is often witnessed among patients of depression. So, you need to stock on omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as seafood.
Other mental health-boosting nutrients that you require include iodine, selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12. All these are involved in brain function, and any decline in their levels are predictors of depression. You can always up your levels of B vitamins, zinc as well as folate via foods such as lentils, seeds, beans, peas, and more.
4. Go outside and enjoy some sunshine
Spending time outdoors can help reduce stress as well as slashes the risk of developing depression. Sunlight is critical for your mental wellness. It is responsible for signaling specific areas in the retina that promote the release of serotonin.
Serotonin is a hormone that corresponds with improved mood. Plus, it helps you focus and leaves you feeling calm. Moreover, sunlight is the chief source of vitamin D. The vitamin is mainly responsible for the absorption of calcium in your bones.
Low levels of vitamin D also correlate with increased odds of having depression. Therefore, this is another reason you need to spend time outdoors. Spending time in nature also poses several advantages for your mental health.
For example, research says that outdoor time can help de-stress by lowering the hormone, cortisol, which is responsible for causing stress. Additionally, spending times outdoors can aid in lowering inflammation levels, which is not only linked with depression but several autoimmune disorders, cancer, and more.
5. Dedicate time to regular exercise
Another lifestyle change to make is to up your physical activity. Business Insider calls exercise the “cheapest antidepressant.” On top of that, there is extensive research that praises the role that exercise plays in improving your mental wellness.
Researchers highlight that exercise can help deal with depressive disorder and suggest that more and more doctors should prescribe it. Investigations also outline that only little physical activity such as gardening or walking for half an hour can help fend off depression.
Over and above that, exercise is applauded for improving the mental as well as physical health of patients with schizophrenia. It also plays a role in lowering the risk of developing dementia. In fact, regular physical activity is often recommended as a measure, which patients that show signs of dementia are asked to follow.
Small lifestyle changes can significantly impact mental wellness. Therefore, concentrate on upping your physical activity, adding healthy foods to your diet, and increasing the time that you spend outdoors. Take steps to relax and manage your stress, as it can eat away your mental health significantly. Don’t forget to drink lots of fluids.
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