When aiming to improve your mental wellness it is important to take a holistic approach. A holistic approach looks at the entire person and their functioning and not just your diagnosis and symptoms. A holistic approach means addressing your entire being including your mind, body and spirit. It also takes into account any social factors.
In order to take a holistic approach to your mental health as an adult, there are several key factors to consider:
Nutrition and Mental Wellness
A balanced and healthy diet can help to improve your mood, help you to think clearly and be more alert and focused. Our brain and body relies on a healthy diet to function at its best. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can impact your brain functioning and lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. A person whose primary diet is filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, seeds, nuts and healthy fats are less likely to struggle with their mood.
It is important to have your annual visit with your doctor and review your blood work each year with your doctor to ensure that your levels are up to par. Your doctor may be able to recommend supplements or refer you to a nutritionist to further address your dietary needs, if necessary. For many adults a multivitamin, fish oils, vitamin D, magnesium and a calcium supplement can go a long way, but you always want to consult your physician to make sure.
When you exercise your body releases endorphins and serotonin, which improves your mood. Serotonin is a substance that is found in many antidepressants. Hence why exercise is known as a natural antidepressant. You can get exercise in many ways and at any fitness level. Dancing, swimming, yoga, running, walking, strength training and chair exercises are a few types of exercise that people tend to take advantage of. Some exercises can be very calming for the brain, which can also be helpful for regulating the nervous system and addressing symptoms of trauma. You can exercise in your home, outdoors or at a fitness facility. You can exercise by yourself or with others.
Exercise has many benefits including:
Exercising 30 minutes a day, at least 3 times a week can improve your mood and overall physical health.
Sleep and mental wellness are very much intertwined. Many people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma and other mood disorders have difficulty sleeping. It is not always clear, which comes first, the difficulty sleeping or the challenges with your mental health. What I do know is getting adequate sleep and rest can make all the difference with how you cope with stress and life challenges. A person who is lacking sleep is more likely to become irritable, have difficulty focusing, feel anxious, have delusions or experience hallucinations.
There are a few things that you can do to improve your sleep, including:
Similar to exercise, when we have sex and orgasm our body releases serotonin, which helps to improve your mood and fight off depression. Sex for many adults can be a stress reliever that is very soothing. Because consensual sex often leads to feelings of intimacy, it can create the opportunity for nurturing and safety, which helps both parties to feel desired. This experience can also boost your self-esteem.
The hugging and cuddling that can occur before, during and after sex can release endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical that triggers happiness in the brain. Our bodies can also release prolactin and oxytocin during sex. Prolactin and oxytocin are hormones that help you to feel relaxed and get sleep. Most people who have an active and regular sex life usually tend to have better sleep.
Getting sun increases your serotonin level and can help to battle seasonal depression. Sunlight can also improve your vitamin D levels, which is very important for the human body. The sun is the best natural source of vitamin D. 15-30 minutes of sun exposure may be enough for people with darker skin to gain the effects of the sun.
Whenever I mention meaningful relationships, people often think about romantic relationships. While romantic relationships are important, meaningful relationships can come in many forms. They can be familial, collegial, acquaintanceships, romantic or friendship based. People who have meaningful and healthy relationships are less likely to feel alone. They are also more likely to feel happy and have a sense of satisfaction with their lives. People with meaningful relationships often have more of a sense of purpose. People with healthy relationships are more likely to ask for and receive help and support. Having meaningful relationships can enhance your social life, help you to be more active and less isolated. Having meaningful relationships creates a sense of intimacy that is often very much needed.
Spiritual practices are practices that you engage in to deepen your relationship with a higher being and/or yourself. They help us to feel grounded and they influence how we live our lives. Spiritual practices are usually connected to our belief systems, which may or may not be religious. Prayer, meditation, expressing gratitude, use of crystals, breathwork, singing, chanting, and yoga are just a few spiritual practices that people rely upon in their day-to-day life. Spiritual practices can give you a sense of peace and purpose. It can also improve your coping skills.
Hobbies are activities that you enjoy that occupy your mind, help you to be more active and may even get you out of the house and socializing with others. Hobbies can be solo activities or something that you engage in with others. Someone can have multiple hobbies. Hobbies can include puzzles, riddles, games, knitting, drawing, gardening, singing, dance, hiking, sports, collecting items, reading, baking, cooking, and writing. The whole objective of a hobby is that it is enjoyable and pleasurable for you. Pleasurable pastimes can calm down an overactive mind, reduce anxiety and decrease panic-like symptoms. Hobbies can often enable you to be creative or be very relaxing. Some people find hobbies that make them money, keeps them in shape and/or helps them to connect with others. People who engage in hobbies are less likely to suffer from boredom, struggle with a low mood and have difficulty managing their stress. A lot of hobbies also keeps our brain sharp and increases neuroplasticity (enables our brain to keep learning at any age).Hobbies can also help you to connect to your inner child. Hobbies often enable you to play, being fearless without worry about judgment or the need for perfection. Your passions are often very much connected to hobbies.
Taking a holistic approach to your mental health will never be a bad decision. However, it is important to note that these steps will be best supported with the help of a mental health professional and does not replace talk therapy, counseling or medication.
©North Node Therapy 2022 | All rights reserved