As your Chiropractor we are dedicated to helping you with your physical health, keeping your spine moving well and body working at its best, but did you know we care about your mental health too? Both your physical and mental wellbeing are connected, and if one is not being looked after, it can have a knock-on effect to the other. And although we may not be mental health experts, we are committed to helping and guiding you. So, to do this and to shine a light on ‘World Mental Health Day’ which is on Monday 10th October, this week we share more about mental health, why it is important, and things you can do to take care of your mental wellbeing. What is mental health and why is it important? Mental health is an integral part of health, and is described as a state of mental wellbeing that helps people to cope with stresses of life and enables them to learn, work well, and contribute to their community1. According to the charity Mind, it is estimated that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children will struggle with some form of mental health concern each year, with anxiety and depression being the most common. Mental health impacts all aspects of life, from how well you think, how you regulate your feelings and how you behave. It can contribute towards productivity at home and at work, how relationships are maintained, and being able to adapt and cope with stress and challenging situations. The big questions is, what can you do to help your mental wellbeing? There are a number of areas you can work on each day to help your mental health. Here are our top 5 tips to mental wellbeing: 1. Exercise Getting your body moving is wonderful for not only your physical health, but your mental health too. When you exercise it can help to boost confidence and self-esteem because you are doing something for you and most likely challenging yourself. It also helps to release one of your feel-good hormones called endorphins. Aerobic activity has been shown to be best for releasing them, such as a brisk walk, jogging, cycling, or dancing2. We would recommend trying to get 30 minutes intentional exercise a day, and if you exercise in a group or with others, it can be an excellent way to socialise at the same time, which can enhance your mental wellbeing further. 2. Time Out Do you find that life can get hectic sometimes, with so much to do and what seems like so little time? Being ‘busy’ is now the norm for most people, but unfortunately over time it can have a negative impact on mental health. To help manage this, we would recommend each day factoring in some time for you to become really present. You may find yourself focusing on things in the past or the future quite often which is very common for our brains to gravitate to, but this can result in a sense of overwhelm and anxiety. So, whether it be a walk, a cup of tea in peace, or some focused breathing, whatever you find helpful, try and allow some time each day for you to become present, creating an opportunity to focus on the now. 3. Sleep hygiene We know how tough the next day can be when you’ve had a poor night’s sleep. Things like productivity can take a dip, emotions can be heightened and decisions, which would normally be easy to make can become a headache. Those changes happen because sleep is key in helping you think more clearly, learn effectively, and assist with memory. Research has highlighted that during your sleep, your brain processes emotional information and helps you to remember and evaluate thoughts and memories, which impacts mood and emotion when awake3. With sleep being so important, making it a priority is essential. Where possible, taking time out before bed to wind down, switching off devices and having your last meal a couple of hours before bed can help you to get to sleep quicker and improve sleep quality. Creating that sleep sanctuary can help too, having a sacred space that is cool, dark, and comfortable can all assist in getting a great night’s rest. 4. Connection Forming strong relationships with others can provide a useful support network and an opportunity to share experiences which is beneficial for mental wellbeing. Small things like eating dinner with family without any other distractions, meeting a friend for a walk, joining a local group, or picking up the phone to call that person you’ve been meaning to contact for a while can all create that much needed interaction and sense of belonging. Being mindful of the amount of time spent on social media is important too. Social media can be brilliant for connecting with people all around the world, but it can also cause comparison and heighten anxiety, so creating boundaries around social media can help. 5. Nourishment Did you know that what you eat and drink can impact your brain? Everything that you consume will interact with your gut, and either nourish it so your gut bacteria is healthy or cause it to work harder. Quite amazingly, your gut interacts with your brain, and research is highlighting that gut health affects mood and can help to lower the risk of anxiety, stress, and depression4. Nutrition is a huge topic, but to keep it simple, eating fresh foods over processed is a good starting point. Fresh vegetables and fruit, good quality protein such as eggs, poultry, red meat, fish or beans, and fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds will help to fuel your body well. Drinking plenty of water is essential too, as is keeping alcohol and carbonated drinks to a minimum and being mindful of the amount of caffeine you consume. Why not give them a go and see how you get on? We know it can be difficult to get started at times, but even if you pick one area to focus on first and then build up over time, it will certainly help to move you forward. If you do have concerns over your mental health, it is always best to seek help sooner rather than later. Whether that be speaking to those around you to share how you feel, contacting charities such as Mind or liaising with your General Practitioner or other health care providers to get some professional help. We are here for you too. If there is anything we can help with, please ask. 1. World Health Organization. (2022). Mental Health: Strengthening our response. Retrieved from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response 2. Harvard Medical School. (2021). Endorphins: The brain’s natural pain reliever. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/endorphins-the-brains-natural-pain-reliever 3. Sleep Foundation. (2022) Mental Health and Sleep. Retrieved from Sleep Foundation.org: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health 4. Journal of Neuroscience Research. (2019). The role of inflammation and the gut microbiome in depression and anxiety. Retrieved from Wiley Online Library: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jnr.24476 The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.
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