Everyday lifestyle choices to maintain the balance of your mental well-being
For some, physical illnesses are easier to admit having than accepting that they are not feeling one hundred per cent emotionally or mentally. Life has no guarantees that it will be easy. Often it is more like a roller coaster with the highs and lows that everyday living throws at us. Everyday attitudes and lifestyle choices can help us maintain the balance to support mental well-being, ensuring the ability to bounce back from set-backs and determining inner resilience.
Here are 8 easy ways to remain strong when things get rocky:
The food-body-mind connection.
A number of studies have shown people with diets high in junk food have a 51% increase in depression. The relationship between food and emotions is a complex one and for some it can also be related to weight control and body image. The idea that food can trigger physical or emotional reactions may be a strange concept to understand. Many people now link certain foods to triggering physical problems; fatigue, inflammation, constipation, diarrhoea or joint pain. Remarkably, the brain can be affected too. Simple reactions; irritability, anxiety, nervousness, aggravation or depression can also be linked to food triggers with some people. Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, soy, salicylates, citrus, aspartame, MSG, sulphites and food colourings. Keeping a food diary and a rotational diet are excellent tools if you suspect foods are triggering reactions. Positive food choices such as fruit, vegetables, good sources of protein and grains provide key nutrients; vitamins, minerals, fibre, proteins and phytonutrients that are the building blocks of health and create emotional balance. Researchers have shown key nutrients such as Protein, B Vitamins, Omega 3, Magnesium, Iron and Probiotics have key roles with helping maintain cognitive function and emotional well-being.
A light bulb moment
The industrial revolution and invention of the light bulb has changed our lives and number of artificial controlled daylight hours available. In doing so, it has also meant less time to sleep and the creation of walking zombies, aka ‘The Chronically Sleep Deprived’. Those suffering from chronic sleep deprivation can suffer from weight gain, poor memory, trouble making decisions, poor motor skills, poor judgement and being emotionally over-reactive! It is no wonder that sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture! Living day to day tired is certainly not living life to your best. However, if this problem is torturing you then consider making your bedtime routine earlier and sleeping in a dark, quiet room. There are non-addictive natural remedies that can help with sleep that include magnesium, herbs, tart cherry, and even guided meditations that will help you relax and get a better night’s sleep.
The Water Alarm
At 2 per cent dehydration levels, our inner alarm, the brain, will be screaming that you need more water! Low energy, generally feeling lousy, experiencing mood swings, poor concentration levels are all signals more water is required. Research with women showed that mild to moderate dehydration resulted in a drop in energy, increased moodiness, lowered concentration, increased reactions to stress and a general attitude that life was lousy. Men were also affected but women had more noticeable effects. Unfortunately many drinks we are attracted to such as tea, coffee and soft drinks (because of the sugar and caffeine) can have dehydrating effects on the body. Ensure you are drinking enough water and consider some caffeine free alternatives such as herbal teas to top up your fluid levels.
Part of the Pack
As social creatures we were never meant to be alone or live in isolation. A close relationship with others; partners, family and friends who are supportive, with whom we can spend time and share activities together are also important keys to well-being. Bonding with others is vital; whatever the activity, whether is it sharing and caring over a cup of tea, watching a funny movie with a friend, going for a walk together, being in contact with the neighbours, joining a sports team, generates a feeling of being accepted, valued and connected. Volunteering in the community is also another option to feel connected while giving back to others.
Live in the Now
Worrying and focusing on the past or what is yet to happen robs you of energy for living in the moment and stops you enjoying the now. Recognize the things that you are not able fix and work to release those stresses.
It is time to get off the couch!
Move it or lose it. Our bodies and minds are designed to work best when we physically move. Numerous studies have shown all forms of movement; aerobic, resistance, yoga, and dance have a positive impact on reducing stress and increasing psychological wellbeing no matter what the age. If you have not exercised for a while, consider buddying up with a friend. Start slowly with 15 to 20 minutes of an activity that you would enjoy.
The work and activities you gravitate towards reveal your talents and these may be unique to you. The talent may be something you already do as a hobby, job or interest but most likely it will be what drives you and gives you passion – what makes you feel alive. Many people target their weak points, but it is vital to stop comparing yourself to others and look at your skills and strengths. Sure, understand your weaknesses, but acknowledge that everyone is different and has their own weaknesses and strengths.
Seek help if you need it
If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and still don’t feel good, then it’s time to seek professional help. Input from a knowledgeable, caring professional can often motivate us to do things for ourselves that we’re unable to aspire to on our own.
Remember, we are all a work in progress. No one is perfect. However, some of us are progressively and actively working on ourselves to make things better. Putting in processes or consistently using these lifestyle choices can support us when needed, helping us to create a stronger internal mechanism to be more resilient when the lows of life become a challenge.