Our Top 3 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health Awareness & Improve Health
1. Staying connected with people who love and support you helps ward off the effects of stress, depression, anxiety and other health problems. Make a concerted effort to call, email or get together with these important people in your life and feel free to share what’s on your mind honestly and openly. Be sure to communicate what you need though — a fresh perspective, actual help in solving a problem, only a sympathetic ear or just a good laugh.
If you value their opinion, they will also value yours, so be open to listen to what they have to share and offer help or advice if they ask for it. Don’t forget to make plans with them for a special activity; nothing boosts your spirits, gives you more energy or makes you happier than anticipating good times with good friends.
2. “You are what you eat” is a familiar saying that means that the kind of food and drink you consume, directly determines the nutrients fueling your system and greatly impacts how well your mind and body are able to function.
Drink more water to replace sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine and avoid empty calories, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and mood changes. Don’t skip breakfast and build your diet from lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fats.
People who eat these foods are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than those who eat lots of meat and dairy products.
3. Everyone has stress. It is a normal part of life felt when you have too much to do, when you haven’t slept well, when you are worried about your job, money, relationships or a loved one who is ill or in crisis.
In response to stress, your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism and blood flow to your muscles. This response is intended to help you react quickly and effectively when high-risk situations arise.
While it is “natural”, it is unhealthy for your body to continually be in this state, and if you don’t learn coping strategies, your brain, nerves, heart, stomach, pancreas, intestines and reproductive organs will all be negatively affected.
A Few Tips to Reduce or Control Stress
1. Be realistic with the amount of activities you can actually take on
2. Deny the need to be a “superhero” for everyone in your life
3. Meditate 20 minutes every day
4. Visualize better ways to manage a stressful situation or a more positive
approach to a difficult task
5. Exercise regularly and find a hobby you enjoy
6. Share your feelings with friends and find out how they cope with their
7. Be flexible and make allowances for other’s opinions with a desire for
8. Watch out for your unrealistic expectations of others…and yourself
Get plenty of rest, relaxation and exercise to support your efforts to have a healthy body and the mental ability to cope with change in a positive way. Getting the correct amount of quality sleep is a must for your ability to learn and process memories. It also helps restore your body’s energy, muscles and hormones that affect growth and appetite. Relaxation allows you to unwind and enjoy life, a very important part of maintaining good health.
Exercise helps control weight, improves your mental health and mood, increases the chances of living longer and it helps strengthen bones and muscles.
Don’t confuse relaxing and socializing with drinking alcoholic beverages, nor should alcohol be a way of dealing with anxiety or depression. The rough guidelines for drinking alcohol are that men should consume no more than 14 drinks in a week and women should have no more than 7 drinks in a week.
Besides the hangover the next morning, drinking can decrease the quality of your sleep by interfering with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is when your dreams occur and it is thought to be the most restorative stage of sleep. Alcohol also alters serotonin levels in the brain which regulate mood, and can cause mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
In general, we find it much easier to recognize aches and pains in our bodies than we do the signs of depression, anxiety or other types of mental health disorders. That is why it is so important for us to keep our brain health top of mind, just as we would any heart condition, diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma.
If you or a loved one hasn’t been feeling well, please make sure they see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional as soon as possible.
Mental health awareness is important because while mental disorders are common and treatable, they often go undiagnosed. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 American adults — nearly 44 million people — will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year.
Here are signs you may need to seek help:
- Confused thinking
- Prolonged depression
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries, or anxieties
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Strong feelings of anger
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Growing inability to cope with daily problems and anxieties
- Suicidal thoughts
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Substance abuse
The mental health awareness professionals at Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence are ready to help with a complete assessment to provide an individualized plan for the kind of care you need.
We encourage you to fully embrace the concept of wellness of your mind, body
and spirit. With the combination of our Eastern and Western medical approaches
to stress management strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health, Enterhealth can maximize your potential to lead a full and productive life.