Though it is harder to observe, mental health can be just as important as physical health to achieving overall wellness and quality of life.
Chris Frasz, who teaches mindfulness training and seminars in Petoskey, noted that it’s important to be proactive with mental health if striving for overall well-being.
“If we want to be in good physical shape we engage in various physical activities. Similarly, if we want strong mental health, we need to be proactive about it,” he said.
Because stress can make the brain more susceptible to mental illness and issues, Frasz suggests meditation techniques at his workshops as a means of coping with stress.
Here are some other suggestions from top health sources that can help support a healthy mind.
1. Physical exercise
According to The Washington Post, a 2014 review in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that physical activity reduced symptoms of depression in people with mental illness and even reduced symptoms of schizophrenia.
2. Use social media wisely
This one may come as a surprise, but time spent on social networking has been linked to depressive symptoms in some studies. According to The Washington Post, research suggests that reading other people’s “chipper status updates” can actually make people feel worse.
3. Get more sleep
According to Harvard Health Publications, sleep problems may increase the risk for developing mental illnesses. Studies also show that treating sleep disorders may help alleviate symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety.
4. Consider nutrition
Eat what nourishes the whole body, including your brain. According to Psychology Today, healthy carbohydrates increase serotonin which has a calming effect on mood. Protein increases dopamine and tyrosine which can help combat stress. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for cognitive function.
5. Supplement if needed
Most doctors will agree that it is difficult to get all nutrients from food. Experts suggest adding supplementation, especially Vitamin D. An article from Harvard Medical School notes that Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to depression.
6. Be grateful
Gratitude has been linked to improved well-being as well as happiness. According to Psychology Today, research now shows that keeping a gratitude journal or making a daily list can be effective in developing a healthier perspective.
7. Take a break
Though routines get us through the week and keep us efficient, doing something out of the ordinary can do wonders for shifting mindset and battling stress. Researchers at the University of Michigan suggest that this can include taking a vacation or even just walking in a new park or trying a new restaurant.
University of Michigan studies show that laughter can boost immune function, ease pain, relax the body and reduce stress. Laughing also lowers cortisol (stress hormone) and increases endorphins, which elevate mood.
9. Quiet your mind
Meditation — or the practice of harnessing one’s thoughts — can be effective in dealing with the root of problems such as anxiety and stress. Try mindfulness training (as suggested by Frasz) or explore other techniques such as those taught in yoga, or Tai Chi.
10. Seek professional help
According to the University of Michigan Health Services, seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness. A professional counselor or psychologist may be able to suggest an effective treatment plan in combating mental health issues.