College of DuPage Nursing Student Jill Kraus shared with Healthy Lombard that Covid-19 has forced people to update their tech skills this past year, it’s time for mental health to get the same upgrade. College of DuPage Nursing Student Jill Kraus shares five ways to reboot mental health.
According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2021) physical activity boosts brain health, reduces short-term feelings of anxiety and depression, and promotes better sleep. Exercise enables healthy coping mechanisms, breaks the cycle of rumination, and enhances self-confidence. Working out does more than maintain a flawless physique and combat chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. A consistent workout routine releases endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones, that do wonders to clear the mental cache.
Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods are foods that are in their natural form. Traditionally found around the perimeter of the grocery store, they are the most abundant source of nutrition. Researcher Joseph Firth and colleagues (2020) claim that high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, and dairy products, and occasionally red meat in the diet is associated with a lower risk for depression. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals; meat, eggs, and fish contribute omega-3 fatty acids and protein; kefir, yogurt, nuts, and dried legumes are great for your gut and brain health. Even amateur cooks can try their hand at mixing and matching whole foods to create delicious meals and desserts. Try to resist the temptation of sugar and sodium-filled, prepackaged food by avoiding the middle aisles of the store.
Unorganized spaces can be a mirror of unorganized minds and vice versa. Visual clutter can be distracting and lead to procrastination that in turn elevates anxiety. Organizing allows the brain to relax and focus on one task at a time. Keeping a clean and organized work and living space can also promote positive feelings and appreciation for possessions to be loved and enjoyed rather than focusing on what is lacking.
Carefully Curate Your Social Media
Social media takes a lot of blame for contributing to depression and anxiety by playing a part in promoting unrealistic expectations, exacerbating feelings of inadequacy, and intensifying feelings of isolation. Social media is here to stay; taking control of online presence is a must for mental health. Perspective is key, focusing on the positive aspects of social media is one way to utilize the unprecedented conveniences of the internet such as its worldwide reach and ability to foster human connection. Social media can enhance one’s life but needs to be edited judiciously. Finding online communities that have like-minded interests can foster creativity and help create feelings of empowerment.
When things seem out of control and overwhelming, thoughts can tend to turn negative. Living through a pandemic is not for the faint of heart, times are tough and people may feel disenchanted with life. It is important not to remain a bystander, taking active control of thoughts can change their trajectory. Acknowledging negative feelings but not getting stuck in that mind space is imperative. Practicing the behavior of shifting thoughts to what is good about a situation will reinforce habits of positive thinking that will indeed reboot mental health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 22). Benefits of Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm#brain-health.
Firth, J., Gangwisch, J. E., Borisini, A., Wootton, R. E., & Mayer, E. A. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 369, m2382. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2382