Women of South AfricaAug 6, 2020
Building mental resilience to cope with anxietyAug 26, 2020
In times of uncertainty and change it has become easy to forget what effect this has on our mental health. Adapting to circumstances is in our genes, then again being able to cope does not come that easy for everyone. During the lockdown, we have had to adapt to new work routines, financial uncertainty and family life in general.
This has led to numerous internal and external stressors which we are all currently experiencing, and left many feeling less equipped to take on these stressors at home. Often when people seek treatment for their mental health they expect to hear all about the various treatments and medication available. However, what is frequently missing from the conversation is the lifestyle choices accompanied by the specific mental health issue at hand.
If you are struggling with a certain mental health condition or trying to help a loved one who is struggling with a mental health condition you might feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the vast amounts of treatments available. It is important to note that mental health conditions are real issues and they cannot be treated with healthier lifestyle choices alone.
If you feel that you can no longer cope, it is best to seek medical intervention as soon as possible.
In this article, we will be discussing healthier lifestyle choices that will help you on your road to recovery. We will also focus on bad lifestyle choices and the mental health implications thereof.
If you are facing mental health challenges at the moment, talk to a clinician so that they can inform you on specific changes you can make in your daily life that will improve your mental state and help you recover. To date research has shown that there is no single answer that solves all the problems, though, small changes can yield large dividends and some of the changes you can make includes:
Good nutrition is more than just eating healthy foods. Our bodies differ from one another and so do our nutritional needs. Eating the right kind of foods for our bodies to function as effectively as possible is very important. Poor food choices are commonly associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease however, what some of us don’t realise is that positive or negative food choices can affect our moods as well as our mental health.
Research has shown that nutrients such as vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and DHA have been shown to yield positive results in terms of overall cognitive health, moods and mental health. Making dietary changes can be difficult, but small changes can lead to a successful outcome.
Some tips to get you started:
- Avoid junk food and limit unhealthy calorie intake
- Decrease your sugar intake
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake
- Ensure that you get enough lean protein at meals
Manage your stress
Some of us are better able to cope under tremendous amounts of stress, and everyone has stressors in their daily lives which we need to face and overcome. Managing this stress is crucial in maintaining a solid-state of mental health. Stress can manifest from numerous origins and can either be acute or chronic. Acute stress is stress associated with, for example, giving a presentation in front of a large crowd or taking a test which you need to pass. These are all stressors that come and go very quickly, triggering our internal flight or fight response.
Chronic stress on the other end of the spectrum is stressors that persist for longer periods. This can result from factors such as job loss, health issues or any other life-altering event. With chronic stress, your body is constantly in a heightened state of stress which makes it extremely difficult to unwind. This constant state can negatively impact our immune system, sleep quality and mental health or focus.
Here are a few tips to try the next time you feel overwhelmed by daily stress factors. Activities such as journaling about your feelings or practising mindfulness meditation and even yoga can all have positive attributes which will benefit your mental wellbeing. Everyone handles stress in different ways so it’s best to understand and see what works for you.
Do something that you can enjoy
Making time to focus on an activity that you enjoy can go a long way in improving your mental health. It is important to disconnect to reset our brains, this can be done by reading a book or playing with your pets. Any activity that takes your mind off stressors will give your brain a chance to “switch off” for a while and reboot. In today’s life, we are so busy taking care of everything that we forget to sometimes just stop for a while and take a couple of deep breaths. If we don’t make time for ourselves and our mental well-being we risk become even more and more stressed out or anxious, all of which has a compounding effect on our health. Getting involved in your community and caring for others
Doing great deeds for a neighbour or others in your community gives one a sense of meaning and purpose. Staying socially connected even if it’s virtual plays an important role in lessening anxiety and str'ess. Look for big or small ways you can improve the lives of others and in turn, you would improve yours as well. The smallest act of kin'dness during times like these can help others in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.
Meditation and relaxation techniques
Deep breathing and meditation are commonly misunderstood. Meditation is not just some “new age” movement, it works. Over time your brain can change the way you feel and react to stressful situations and you start processing these emotions healthily. Meditating or doing mindful deep breathing exercises for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day can improve your overall mental tolerance so you can control your anxiety and frustration when it matters most. If you are not sure how to get started, you can hop over to a site like Youtube and type in “mindful meditations that only takes 30 minutes” at the end of the day it does not matter what approach you use, as long as you find it comfortable.
Habits that are devastating to your mental health
We all have one or two habits that we wished we never had. Bad habits can place a decline in your mental health and affect it adversely. By ending these habits, you give your mental health a chance to flourish and rejuvenate your overall perspective on life.
Lack of exercise
Studies have shown over and over again that there is a defined link between physical exercise and depression. Therefore, you should consider following an exercise routine that fits your schedule and routine. When you perform any exercise your body naturally releases endorphins that improve your mood.
Indulging in your stress
Stress is a normal element of life. It keeps us alive. Everyone is prone to it at some point in their lives. Understanding what you can and can’t control and avoid fixating over the situations or factors which you can’t control. Did you know that in situations of extreme stress your brain releases another chemical called cortisol which when secreted in large amounts, hinders the brains cognitive functionality?
Shooting for perfection
There are mainly two types of perfectionism. Positive perfectionism is when you set up realistic goals which you know you can meet, but being Ok if things don’t necessarily go according to plan. Negative perfectionism, on the other hand, is when your mental health starts to decline due to, for instance, setting unachievable goals for yourself and not coping when you can’t achieve them. Perfection cannot be obtained and its best we forget that it exists. Ruminating over your past failures will harm your mental health.
You keep on maintaining toxic relationships
Relationships that leave you feeling drained is slowly poisoning your mind, compromising your mental health. These kinds of relationships will affect you in several ways, which will lead you down the road of anxiety or depression. Now more than ever we need people in our lives that provide the support and structure that we need to cope. Stay away or out of conversations with people who you know is a little bit toxic. Instead, replace them with people who only want the best for you.
Evaluate and do some self-reflection on what your habits are and how they affect you on a day to day basis. It is nearly impossible getting rid of all these bad habits all at once, so instead focus on one and start from there. The results that you see progressively will be the driving force behind dropping the rest of these bad habits. Postponing to take care of your mental health will only decline your mental state and capabilities over time.
If you feel that you need the help of a professional, get in touch with us today. Our clinic was founded on the core principle of “de-stigmatizing and de-institutionalizing” the mental health care setting. Here you will be met by a warm and friendly team with a passion to help those who struggle to help themselves. A trip to Zwavelstream clinic can lead you on the journey to successfully restore your emotional well-being.