It's a vicious cycle — many people don't realize it, but mental and physical health are interrelated. If you're struggling with one, you're probably fighting the other. There are numerous life stressors, which can be even more detrimental for people who already suffer from depression and anxiety. Mood disorders are linked to severe physical ailments like a weakened immune system, heart disease and gastrointestinal issues. Being chronically unwell is likely to lead to depression and anxiety. So, if you're fighting mental issues, it's time to practice some self-care and get your depression and anxiety under control. It's time to begin enjoying some peace of mind and body.
Get Enough Sleep
Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. The first step to getting enough sleep involves developing a sleep schedule and sticking with it. Inadequate sleep can result in elevated stress (which can cause weight gain due to an excess of the body's stress hormone, cortisol), depression and anxiety. These issues, in turn, can cause insomnia. The challenge is to break this cycle. If you're having problems falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a few things that can help:
- Begin relaxing with a nightly routine (e.g., reading or meditating) and plan on doing this for 30 to 60 minutes — less if you get sleepy sooner.
- Avoid screen time at least an hour before you want to go to sleep.
- Stop drinking caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bedtime.
Adopt a Healthy Diet
Consistently consume a nutrient-rich diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and healthy fats (e.g., avocados). These foods boost brain function. Research has shown that high-calorie, low-nutrient and processed foods can lead to increased anxiety and depression. It also helps to add vitamins and supplements, such as Thrive Patch, to maintain your overall health.
Spend Time Outside
Between work and the hours spent staring at smartphones, TV, computers or video games, most people don't spend nearly enough time outdoors these days. Allocating some of your time to enjoying nature (especially walking) can help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. Including mindful meditation (i.e., only allowing your mind to be in the present) into your nature walk can help tremendously.
Make Time For Hobbies
Hobbies that require you to work with your hands are incredibly helpful in decreasing symptoms of depression. Since half of the brain's cortex controls the hands, hands-on activity, such as knitting or painting, can give your mind the workout it deserves. Using your hands, along with some cognitive activity, is even more beneficial.
Exercise not only helps you maintain various aspects of your physical health and burn fat, but it can also improve your mood. With as little as a brisk 40-minute walk, your brain can release endorphins and serotonin (aka your natural "feel-good" chemicals). These chemicals help to ease anxiety and depression in the short-term, while regular exercise can diminish these mental conditions over the long-term. Find the right workout for you; it doesn't have to be anything complicated or terribly intense. The most important thing is that you exercise at least three or four days a week. It may help to keep things interesting by alternating between a few different types of workouts. From yoga to walking to CrossFit, anything is better than nothing.
Humans are social animals and need a connection with other humans. Having a supportive social circle of family, friends and a sense of community, in general, can make for a longer, happier life. Many people have a difficult time talking about their mental health due to the long-standing stigma. However, it helps to be open with those you trust. Reach out when you need help.
Find Professional Treatment
These days, you have numerous mental health help options. Qualified experts from psychiatrists to counselors can assist with treatment. You may need prescription medication, counseling or a combination of both. Finding the right professional and treatment plan can make all the difference. Plus, it's easier than ever to interact with a healthcare professional; there are countless opportunities for text or video chat if you prefer these over going for an in-person visit.
The correlation between your mental and physical health is enormous. This means that it's critical to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle to avoid the negative cyclical effect that can occur when the mind and body are out of sync. With just a couple of adjustments, you can begin on the road to a much brighter and healthier life.