While our physical health is important, our mental health is critical. Our daily lives are filled with the type of stress that leaves us anxious, leading us to shift our positive thoughts into worry. Before we know it, we’ve converted molehills into mountains.
Without a healthy mind, all other areas of our lives start to wane. In fact, research suggests that poor mental health increases the chances of non-communicative and communicative diseases. Poor physical health also plays a key role in affecting an individual’s mental state.
Research Links Personal Happiness To Mental Health
Social Indicators Research points out the connection between personal happiness and mental health issues.
“Four dimensions seem worth measuring in general population surveys: life satisfaction, positive affect, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, one of the well-being dimensions, life satisfaction, is quite strongly correlated with a distress dimension, depression. A person is unlikely to be both satisfied with life and depressed, but may be satisfied and anxious.”
In essence, the average person content with his or her life is less likely to feel “both satisfied with life and depressed.” This is a telling conclusion. As stated, the study proposes that depression sufferers are typically discontent with their lives. However, the study further clarifies that one can be satisfied and still experience anxiety. Most who are depressed can have everything on a personal and professional level, yet still have a chemical imbalance.
Serotonin Levels In The Brain & Mood
Scientific America reiterates that low serotonin and neurotransmitter levels contribute to depression. The confirmation is in the results of psychotropic medication, antidepressants specifically, that increase serotonin levels in the brain. Conflicting studies also suggest that low levels of serotonin are not the reason; case in point, Stablon (Tianeptine), which decreases serotonin levels and helps with major depressive disorder.
Anyone taking medication should consult with his or her doctor and never terminate medication without a physician’s consent. There are holistic opportunities to remedy anxiety or reduce the burden of stress.
10 Holistic Ways To Boost Your Mental Health
1. Sleep & Wake Routine
First of all, getting on a sleep and wake-up routine is imperative. Some people are early risers, while others are not. The important thing is to get to bed at a specific time and wake up at a consistent time.
Consistency with sleep is key to healthier sleep and wake patterns. Thus, if you do not stick to a routine sleep schedule, there’s a chance you can oversleep or not get enough rest. The bottom line: mental health issues are made worse because routine lack of quality sleep can lead to depression.
Consistency is important when taking vitamin supplements and also eating vitamin-rich foods.
Studies show that there is a link between poor mental health and lack of nutrients. Eating healthy can and does help improve your mood.
You can try eating good mood foods, foods that support a healthy body and mind. Unhealthy eating habits or poor diet often lead to weight and physical health issues as well as mental health problems.
It might sound silly, but journaling does help with the cognitive process in dealing with stressful events.
“One hundred twenty-two students were randomly assigned to one of three writing conditions: (a) focusing on emotions related to a trauma or stressor, (b) focusing on cognitions and emotions related to a trauma or stressor, or (c) writing factually about media events. Writers focusing on cognitions and emotions developed greater awareness of the positive benefits of the stressful event than the other two groups.”
4. Gratitude List
Having gratitude can be as simple as reminding yourself of the little and big things in life to be grateful for. As a matter of fact, according to Psychology Today, there are seven key scientific benefits to having gratitude.
- Gratefulness helps build better relationships.
- Being grateful improves psychological health.
- Gratitude enhances one’s ability to be empathetic.
- Being grateful helps with sleep.
- Having gratitude improves low self-worth and boosts self-esteem.
- Gratitude encourages mental strength.
- Physical health improves your gratitude.
If you write down the three most important tasks (MITs) that demand your attention, then you’ll likely feel better. I like to use a whiteboard and have it in the living room where I can visually see my goals. Sometimes it seems like everything is important, which often makes us feel bombarded. No need to get overwhelmed by the number of things to do. Simply break down what needs to get done. Prioritizing is the biggest step in taking some things off your plate. Studies show that there are health benefits to writing down goals.
6. Essential Oils
Admittedly, there is limited scientific evidence to back the health benefits of essential oils and how your brain responds to inhaling vapors. However, according to National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy,  fragrance inhalation acts as a mild sympathetic nervous system regulator.
Meditation has lasting effects on our brain and body. According to research, mindful meditation does alter brain and immune function. This is good news because it means the simple act of quietly meditating can produce lasting benefits. Meditating often helps with stress, sleep issues, and can help shift perspective.
Fitness is vital when it comes to mental health and adds to a healthy sleep routine. Likewise, exercise helps our minds and our bodies. Regular exercise can contribute to a reduction in depressive mood in conjunction with antidepressants.
Needless to say, we are not hermits living in seclusion and we must fight the urge to isolate. Specifically, mental health conditions such as social anxiety and depression enhance isolation tendencies. For this reason, we have to baby-step our way out of our comfort zone and open ourselves up to new opportunities. Allowing ourselves to trust others is a significant step towards developing new friends. According to the Mayo Clinic, friendships help us in the following ways:
- Friendships provide a sense of belonging.
- Having companions gives us a boost in self-confidence.
- Friends help us cope with loss and traumatic events.
- Who else can hold us accountable but our friends who want the best for us? Friends can assist in helping us to avoid bad habits.
10. Loving Kindness
Finally, try to practice loving yourself and being kind to yourself. You can reduce negative moods and boost your energy level by practicing loving kindness. Instead of being hard on yourself, try and reward yourself for all of the things you do right. Celebrate both large and small wins no matter how inconsequential they might seem. Practicing loving kindness by either meditating or making a conscious effort to be more loving towards yourself and others has benefits. Further research and studies indicate that practicing loving kindness helps to boost positive emotion.
Practicing loving kindness produces benefits over time:
“The authors tested this build hypothesis in a field experiment with working adults (n = 139), half of whom were randomly assigned to begin a practice of loving-kindness meditation. Results showed that this meditation practice produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms).”
In conclusion: our focus should not only be on our physical body but on our overall health. Therefore, we cannot overlook our mental health. Lack of good mental health results in low performance rather than functioning at your peak. This is true if exercising or trying to accomplish something at work. So, be kind to yourself and try a few holistic methods to boost your mental health.