Stress, depression, and racing thoughts are just a few of the mental health issues that seem to be increasing in the rat race of modern society. A range of mental health issues can keep you from functioning at your best.
Sometimes psychiatrists and prescription medications become necessary, but often there are simple things you can do to improve your mental health. Natural remedies are preferable to medication any day.
Try making the following lifestyle changes to improve your mental health.
Develop Better Mental Health – Find balance
One of the first things you can do to improve your mental well being is live a life of balance. Allowing any one thing to consume your life will throw you out of balance. It is important to balance work, diet, fitness, and relaxation into your daily and weekly routine. Your brain needs to focus and function, but it also needs time off to relax.
Tips for Better Mental health – Meditation
Sometimes, it takes great effort to give your brain time off. If your thoughts seem to speed along without your consent it may take great effort to stop them. One of the purposes of meditation or mind relaxation is to do just that. I find that meditating on spiritual things improves my outlook. You may prefer to imagine yourself on a mountaintop or by the beach. Take your mind on a mini-vacation from the stress, depression, worry, or racing thoughts that plague you. It may not be easy, but it can be done.
Step to Better Mental Health – Sleep
Mental health problems and sleep issues go hand-in-hand. For example, people who are depressed often find it difficult to sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to depression. These people get caught in a cycle that is ever spiraling downward.
In order to help you sleep, make sure your room is dark and quiet, no TV or radio for background noise. If you need noise to mask background noise or help your mind slow down so you can fall asleep, you can purchase a simple noise machine that plays white noise, babbling brooks, thunderstorms and other background noises (Homedics Sound Spa Relaxation Sound Machine, Target, $24.99).
If you still need help falling asleep you may try drinking chamomile tea, an all natural herbal tea, or taking a natural product that helps you relax, such as Valerian root, melatonin, or tryptophan. (If you are taking any medication be sure to check with your doctor for drug interactions before taking herbal remedies).
Develop Better Metal health – Socialize
One of the first things we tend to do when we are not well mentally is remove ourselves from as many social situations as possible. It is quite possible for mental health issues to lead you down a path of solitude. The problem is that the more you separate yourself from society, the more your mental and emotional capacities will shut down.
Socialization is crucial for the physical and mental well being of your brain. Sometimes you must force yourself to get out of the house and do things with others. Go places where you can engage in conversation that is light, simple, and non-threatening. Get together with friends you know and can trust. Even when your mind tells you that you don’t feel like going out, sometimes it is the most important thing you can do.
Socializing takes your mind off of your own problems for a while and forces you to engage in conversation, which will keep brain atrophy at bay. I’m not kidding when I tell you that if you keep yourself secluded for too long you will find yourself becoming a hermit, with no one to talk to but yourself.
Develop Better Mental Health – Be who you are
Sometimes we experience mental stress because we are trying to be everything that everyone else wants us to be rather than who we really are. Take time to identify yourself. To put it tritely, find yourself. When you have found yourself develop your individualism and talents to the fullest degree. It is then that you will be happy and find your path to success. You must follow the dreams and inclinations with which you were created. Running from who you are and what you are meant to be is just as harmful as modeling yourself into someone else’s image of who you should be.
Who you are is not dictated by your parents, your friends, or even your spouse.
Tips for Better Mental Health – Talk
Sometimes it is easier to shut down than to talk to others about your problems. However, talking things out can help you feel better and often leads to a resolution of problems causing your mental distress. Talk to someone you can trust. You are wise not to tell your troubles to just anyone, but find a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor who will add some objectivity, with empathy, to your thoughts. It’s difficult to know when your thoughts are off-track if you do not discuss them with someone.
Our thought patterns become so familiar to us they seem right, but that doesn’t mean that they are. Talking to someone who is fair-minded and balanced will allow you to get things off your chest, give you a shoulder to cry on or a kick in the pants if that is what you need.
Steps to Better mental Health – Eat right
When you don’t feel well mentally your eating habits reflect it in one of two ways, either you overeat or don’t eat at all. Some people find comfort in food, usually high fat, carbs, and starches. Others find that their appetite is completely gone. Neither extreme is healthy. Just like your body, in order for your brain to function properly you must eat right. Eat a mixture of fruits and vegetables and foods high in Omega 3, like fish.
A diet that is out of balance is like another kick to your mental health. Your brain needs the right balance of vitamins and minerals to function at its optimal capacity. You have to get your dietary habits under control.
As you work toward balance in your diet it is probably a good idea to have a blood test to determine if your blood is lacking in any essential nutrients. Nutritional deficiency can have detrimental effects on your mental health. You may need to take natural supplements until your diet is back in balance.
Support for Better Mental Health – Natural Supplements
Once you have established that your vitamin and minerals are in balance, you may find it helpful to take natural herbal supplements that are believed to boost your mental health. One of the first herbal remedies people turn to is St. John’s Wort. Many people report feeling better and decreased symptoms of depression when taking St. John’s Wort. (GNC Nature’s Fingerprint® St. John’s Wort, $13.69 for 200 capsules)
A supplement I take is Supplements Ginkgo Biloba. It is known to increase blood flow to the brain and I feel it enhances my mental acuity and memory. (GNC Herbal Plus Standardized® Ginkgo Biloba, $31.49 for 300 capsules)
Other supplements include Omega 3 fatty acids to support brain function and amino acids, such as L-Tyrosine and 5-HTP (In Protazen available at Natural Remedy for Depression, $39.95).
Tips for Better Mental Health – Avoid caffeine
Caffeine, there was a time when I thought I couldn’t live without it. I drank 12 or more Diet Cokes per day. I was living on caffeine and Diet Coke.
Five weeks ago I gave up the caffeine. It was hard, like giving up a drug, because I was completely addicted. However, having lived without it for five weeks, I now feel better than I ever have.
I finally realized that caffeine was not helping me as much as it was contributing to sleepless nights, racing thoughts, and high levels of anxiety.
Cut down on caffeine by drinking decaffeinated tea and coffee.
Steps toward better Mental Health – Exercise
The last think you want to do when you don’t feel well mentally or emotionally is exercise, yet it is one of the most effective natural treatments for depression. Any amount of exercise will help you feel better a little bit, but a heart pumping cardio or weight lifting workout causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural “feel good” medication.
I’ve found that when I feel depression or stress coming on, if I head to the gym I can head off significant mood swings.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, I want to tell you that I’ve been where you are. Sometimes the answers seem cliché; you say you’ve heard them all a million times. Perhaps you have, but until you stop talking about change and implement it your struggle will continue.
Sometimes professional help is necessary. When your brain simply does not function correctly it may require medication to make it work right, just as heart patients often have to take medication to regulate their heart and blood pressure. That’s okay.
Just do what needs to be done to improve your mental health so that you can begin to live with optimism and health.