23 September 2021

Top 10 Ways to Nurture Your Mental Health

“Mental health” is a phrase that can mean a lot of things depending on who you talk to. Oftentimes when people speak about mental health, they’re referring to more clinical conditions such as anxiety or depression. These conditions can become quite serious and often require professional treatment. 

However, for most of us, mental health encompasses our overall psychological well-being, including the way we feel about our lives and ourselves, how we manage our feelings, and deal with stress, not necessarily a medical diagnosis that requires treatment.    

Because October 10th is World Mental Health Day, we naturally thought this month’s blog could shine some more light onto this subject and offer some practical tips that almost all of us can certainly use, especially given the past year and a half of the global pandemic. As you’ll come to discover, there are many ways to nurture and improve your mental and emotional health.  

Tip 1: Positive Self-talk – 

We all have that voice in our heads. You know the one. That voice that judges you and tells you you’re not good enough or you don’t know enough. One of the most important things we must learn is to catch this voice in the act of critically judging ourselves STOP listening to it. Instead, try speaking encouragingly and lovingly to yourself. This can work wonders for mental, emotional and even our overall health. Be kind, be forgiving, don’t talk down to others, or yourself! 

Tip 2: Move your body – of course, but here’s the science behind it! 

We all know physical exercise is fundamental for our physical condition and even strengthening our immune systems. Regular physical activity has been shown to be as effective as psychotherapy for treating mild to moderate depression as well as reducing anxiety. People who exercise regularly report feeling less stressed overall.  

One of the main reasons exercise is so fantastic for our moods and mental health is due to the release of endorphins. Endorphins are incredible chemicals produced in our brain. They’re most well known for their pain-relieving effect, but they’re also known to enhance our immune system, reduce stress, fight depression and build contentment. 

Tip 3: Adequate nutrition – 

What we eat and fuel our body with is equally as important as getting proper physical exercise. Perhaps one of the most detrimental substances we put into our bodies is processed sugar. Unfortunately, sugar is found in many of the foods we consume on a regular basis. There are many other food contaminants that can also disrupt our moods, including, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, trans-fats and other so-called “natural” flavours and preservatives. Everything we eat is used by our bodies to manufacture hormones and other chemical substances that ultimately control our mood and behaviours.  

Our advice? Cut down on all processed and packaged food you eat. Aim for a plant based whole food diet rich in vitamins and minerals. If you do eat meat, try to find a source that is preservative and hormone free.  

Tip 4: Gratitude – 

The effects of feeling grateful should not be underestimated. It has been linked not only to improved mental health but also to immunity, overall energy levels and more. To see the long-term effects of gratitude you must practice feeling grateful regularly. Perhaps the best way to do this is to start a gratitude journal. When you wake in the morning or before you go to bed take just a few moments to jot down what you’re grateful for in your life, let it fill your heart, and before long you will notice you naturally feel better, lighter and more at peace.   

Tip 5: Journaling – 

On top of the above-mentioned gratitude journal, regularly writing down your thoughts and feelings can work wonders for your mental health. Journaling is a tool that has been used for centuries. It is a fantastic way to get all the circular thoughts that can run a muck in your head out on paper. The benefits of journaling are in the act of physically writing down your feelings, not in keeping them around to re-read at a later time, or worse, worrying about someone else finding and reading them. In fact, a great exercise is to write down all of your thoughts and feelings you’d like to release on paper and then burn it!  

Tip 6: Connection –  

We are social beings by nature. If the pandemic taught us all anything it’s how very lost we can feel when our social connections are taken away. Sharing your inner world, your thoughts and feelings, with someone can be of great benefit. Sometimes it can be necessary to speak to a professional therapist, but oftentimes just having someone you know will listen, patiently and without judgement, can make a world of difference. 

Tip 7: Good night’s rest – 

We’ve all heard it before. A good night’s rest is crucial for optimal health and wellbeing. From cellular repair and cognitive functioning to energy levels and strengthened immunity, sleep plays a role in it all. And yet, so many people struggle with their sleep. There are many reasons for this. For starters, most of us are living in a world ruled by technology and screens. We’re constantly bombarded by electromagnetic frequencies, WiFi signals and endless to-do lists. So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting a good night’s rest? Here are a few tips: 

  • Limit your screen time (blue light exposure) in the evening and especially after the sun goes down 
  • Don’t drink any caffeine after 11 am (caffeine has a half-life of up to 10 hours in some people, which means even 10 hours after that cup of coffee you still have caffeine circulating in your bloodstream) 
  • Create an evening routine you can stick to and try to go to bed at the same time each night 
  • Have a pen and paper next to your bed to jot down things you may think of while lying in bed – this will allow you to stop thinking about them because your brain trusts you’ll remember them when you see them written down in the morning. 
  • Adjust the temperature in your room while you sleep. Find what works for you but most people sleep best at around 20 C / 70 F   

Tip 8: Meditation and Breathwork –  

The importance of meditation and breathwork for mental health should not go unmentioned. In fact, judging by the countless studies that have been done on the subject, they may just be the number one thing you can start incorporating into your life for your mental health and your overall well-being in general. 

Everyone can meditate and there is really no right or wrong way to do so. What matters is you slow down, relax and become aware of the present moment. There are of course environments that are more conducive for meditating, however, with practice, mediation can be done anywhere, simply be becoming present.  

If you’ve never meditated before a great place to start is to focus on your breath. Begin by counting the exhales. When your mind wanders, and it most definitely will, simply return your awareness to the breath. Doing this for even just 2 minutes a day will reap you some rewards. With time, you’ll find you can go longer periods without getting distracted by your thoughts.  

As for breathwork, a great a simple exercise is what’s known as square breathing. To do this, begin by exhaling fully, then inhale through your nose for a count of four, then hold the breath in for a count of four, then exhale through the nose for a count of four and then hold the exhale for a count of four. Repeat this pattern as many times as you feel necessary. This is a phenomenal way to combat overwhelm by calming your nervous system and decreasing stress. 

Tip 9: Be kind to others –  

Of course, we want to be kind to ourselves for sure, however, being helpful and kind to others has an even more profound and beneficial effect on your health. A study done in 2003 found that the mental health of people who volunteered regularly experienced a decrease in depressive symptoms, increased happiness and enhanced well-being. There have been many more studies that show similar findings. As long as being kind isn’t physically and mentally overwhelming, such as in the case of full-time caregivers of patients or family members with dementia for example, then the rewards on your own health are undeniable. In fact, cultivating loving emotions, engaging in helping and self-forgetful activities contribute to good health and longevity by preventing the acceleration of aging at the cellular level. 

Tip 10: Don’t wait! – 

There is no better time than right now to start incorporating changes into your life that will benefit your mental health. There is an old Chinese proverb, “dig the well before you are thirsty.” Don’t wait until you feel your mental health is slipping before incorporating some of these tips into your life. It’s always easier to start forming new habits from a place of strength rather than a place of desperation. Even just incorporating one of these suggestions into your life on a regular basis is enough to create positive change.   

Consider a REVIVO retreat  

Three of REVIVO’s 6 core retreats can be very beneficial for mental health and well-being: 

  • Mindfulness and Emotional Balance: helps bring awareness to the inner workings of the mind, find stillness in chaos and assists one off the roller-coaster of emotional turmoil.  
  • Destress & Relax: focuses on current lifestyle and main stressors. Offers practical tools and techniques to better manage and negate the effects of stress.  
  • Sleep Well: addresses the underlying imbalances that contribute to sleep disruption. Works to establish healthy sleeping patterns.  

For more information, please visit our website. (link to website)  

*The information in this post is for general purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you or someone you know suspect something more serious may be at the root of your mental well-being please seek professional help as soon as possible.  

 

REFERENCES: 

medicalnewstoday.com

toronto.cmha.ca

seleni.org

springer.com

greatergood.berkeley.edu