Mental Health 101: Getting Back to the Basics
In our daily lives, it is so easy to get caught up in the hubbub of our busy schedules. We are running around, keeping up with kids, work, friends, frantic to return phone calls and make appointments on time. We often forget about our mental health, which results in a cluttered brain and unchecked wellness. The longer we go without checking in with ourselves mentally, the worse our stress and anxiety become. Reducing stress and cleaning out our mental barn is critical for sustaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit. If we can remember the basics, we can successfully lead a fuller, more peaceful life.
The body needs fuel to survive and choosing the right fuel leads to better performance. Clean eating with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps facilitate quicker cognitive processes and better memory. If you have ever eaten a gut bomb of fast food, you might notice that the next day your mind feels sluggish and your day drags on and on. That is because artificial foods are packed with unhealthy fats. Foods with healthy fats that contribute to clearer brain function include avocados, fish, nuts, olive oil, and eggs.
In addition to choosing healthy options, many of the foods people opt to eat can contribute to and exacerbate their levels of stress, such as caffeine and sugar. On the other hand, some individuals don’t eat at all when they’re stressed. Nutrition is a key basic component of mental health because of the influence it has on us. Our entire day can be changed based on the food we consume. If we do not eat much, our bodies and minds take a toll. We are tired and our blood sugar drops. Sometimes, we become cranky and annoyed at every little thing. Eating healthy enables us to work better as human beings, and keeps our minds happy. Think about it like this--your cells are working hard to keep you alive, and you can help them out by feeding them right!
Sleep and mental health are closely connected and sleep deprivation negatively affects your psychological state and mental health. Sufficient sleep, especially rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. During sleep, the brain works to consolidate thoughts and memories. A lack of sleep is harmful to the consolidation of memories and emotions. This can influence mood and emotions that are tied to mental health disorders, which include the risk of suicidal ideas or behaviors.
We can get back to the basics by creating a consistent sleep routine. Try waking up or going to bed around an hour of the same time every day. Make your bedroom and bed a comfortable place that enables good rest. Try and avoid devices two hours before bedtime. If you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts, try doing a body scan meditation to relax and let go of some of the stress and worries.
Many people who have insomnia can teach their bodies how to sleep better. People are used to staying up and watching movies, playing video games, or scrolling through social media. If we can teach ourselves to put down our devices and focus on resting our bodies, our minds will thank us in the future. Good sleep includes a regular sleep schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television. If you struggle with waking up early, you might try to stay awake longer in order to ensure sleep is more restful.
Exercise allows us to blow off the steam from a heavy work day or stressful family event. According to an article by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have helped to reduce anxiety and depression. Exercise increases circulation throughout the body and alleviates pent-up stress. Exercise also assists with symptoms like low self-esteem and social withdrawal. If you are someone who cannot stand working out, you might find exercise more enjoyable with a friend. Health benefits from exercise include improved sleep, stress relief, improved mood, increased energy, reduced tiredness, and increased mental alertness, and weight reduction. With all of the benefits, why not exercise?
You can begin an exercise routine by scheduling one or two days a week to hit the gym. Drink plenty of water beforehand and be sure to eat a good meal after. Your body will feel refreshed and your mental health will most likely improve in the weeks to come. Sticking to a regular workout routine will keep your mind and body feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. After all, humans were not created to sit at a desk all day and then go to sleep. Our bodies need to be used to their full potential, and that begins with the basics. Nutrition, sleep hygiene, and exercise all play a role in the fundamental components of your mental health. When one area is out of balance, the other areas are affected as well. Take the time to treat your body with the care it deserves, you deserve it!
The quality and quantity of our nutrition, sleep, and exercise regimens all combine to form the foundation for our mental health. If we are lacking the right amount of sleep, not exercising, or eating junk food every day, it would make sense that our mental health would suffer. It is important to take care of yourself and check in to see what areas of your life need a little more attention. Your body is something special and it needs to be cared for to ensure a healthy mind. At Achieve Medical Center, we offer a variety of services that are tailored to your unique situation. Our team believes in our clients and pushes them to be the best version of themselves. Our team fosters the credo that the well-being of a person begins with a healthy mind, body, and spirit. For more information or a free consultation about our mental health services, call Achieve Medical Center today at (619) 375-3977.