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RPT's Healthy Habits - Mental Health

Posted by Stephanie Taylor on 04/16/2020

Mental health is often overlooked or avoided in our society, but it is just as important as our physical health. The two are very closely related. Just like having aches and pains can make you feel grumpy, being stressed can make your feel more achy and tired.

Having good mental health is sometimes referred to as resilience. Just like having good physical fitness can help you avoid getting sick and recover from injuries better, having resilience means that you can work through stressors and adversity better. Below are some ways to improve your mental health

Exercise

Of course, physical therapists are going to promote exercise, but it is vital to your mental health just as much as your physical health. Exercise improves mood and decreases rates of depression, anxiety, and stress. It improves your energy and self awareness. Exercise also improves your brain function, memory, and thinking skills, which reduces frustration when completing tasks. Exercise even changes the structure of the brain and improvements can be seen across the lifespan. Most experts recommend between 30-60 minutes of exercise daily, even if it’s broken up into 5-10 minute increments.

Get enough sleep

Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and ADHD all have a strong link with insomnia, or the inability to sleep. Sleep helps decrease our stress and irritability. It helps improve memory because the brain processes information during our sleep. Sleep improves our concentration and emotional regulation. Experts recommend adults get 8 hours of sleep. You can improve your sleeping skills by maintaining a regular sleep/wake cycle, decreasing your intake of caffeine and alcohol, ensuring that you bedroom is dark and free of distractions. You can also try relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation to help you fall asleep

Eat nutritious food

Food becomes the fuel for our body AND mind. Nutrients can promote the release of neurotransmitters in our brain to help our mental health. Some studies have suggested that people with diets rich in omega-3 and omega-6 have reduced rates of depression and anxiety.

Maintain social relationships

Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of people crave some form of social interaction. In-person conversations and interactions have the biggest impact on our mental well being, so when possible, go out to lunch with a friend or converse with a family member at home. While current circumstances may not permit face to face interaction, call a friend or better yet, FaceTime a friend to keep up with them and to improve your mood

Go outside

The outdoors improves our feelings of relaxation and outdoor experiences can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Sunlight can help regulate our melatonin levels to improve sleep and energy levels. Some small studies have suggested that spending more time outside can actually help you live a longer and happier life.

 

Be well, 

Stephanie Taylor, PT, DPT