Research has shown that there are a number of ways to naturally improve your mental health. This is great news for anyone who struggles with any level of anxiety or depression on a daily basis and doesn’t want to take medication to help treat it. As we go into the new year and you’re thinking about resolutions, perhaps taking control of your mental health is on that list of yours. If so, I hope you try out some of these tips!
1. Practice Mindfulness
This may seem odd to those of you who are unfamiliar with mindfulness, but research has shown time and time again what great benefits come from a regular mindfulness practice. In fact, in just 8 short weeks of engaging in a consistent mindfulness practice, you will actually be changing the way your brain operates! That could mean less anxiety, depression and insecurity and improved overall well-being!
Perhaps the ‘typical’ mindfulness practice is shown as a formal meditation; however, there are so many other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life! Check out my previous post about the little ways to practice this skill: https://www.katiemariecounseling.com/blog/mindfulness-how-to-be-present-in-a-fast-paced-world
2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Exercise doesn’t just help out your heart and body, it gives your brain a boost too! Research shows that getting exercise on a regular basis is actually just as effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression as the usually-prescribed anti-depressant medication is. So next time you decide to go for a jog or lift some weights, know that you aren’t just helping out your muscles, you are giving your mental health some TLC too!
3. Make Sure You are Getting Enough Sleep
When was the last time you actually got the recommended 8 hours of sleep? Thats not just a number pulled out of thin air. Sleep studies have shown slower cognitive functioning and an impaired immune system from getting just 7 hours or less! Your body actually needs that 8 to 9 hours every night in order to function properly. Do your brain, and your body, a favor and get some quality Z’s tonight.
4. Fuel Your Body
A not-so-well-known fact about mental health is that the neurotransmitters that impact our moods are actually created in our gut. What does this mean, you ask? Basically, the foods we eat can directly impact the way we think and feel. I actually found this out first hand so I’ll share some of my own story here. I used to suffer from depression back in the day and truly never thought I would get out from underneath that dark cloud. One day, I decided to stop eating wheat due to some other health reasons and found that I actually had energy, mental clarity and the gloomy fog had begun to lift. Now this isn’t to say that wheat/gluten is the root of all evil - but for me and my body, cutting it out of my diet was a miracle helper. Every body is different. Paying attention to your body’s unique cues can go a long way to helping you make nutrition choices that will actually do your mental health a great deal of good.
My challenge to you: Start keeping a log with number of hours you slept, how much exercise you got, what you ate and how you felt, and how often you practice being mindful. You might be surprised with the connections between your mental state and taking part in these natural remedies.