October 10th has been designated by the World Health Organization as World Mental Health Day. Our mental health is something that is important to attend to on a regular basis – not just once a year. Mental health is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from one’s diet and lifestyle to one’s self-image, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and sense of meaning and purpose in life. For those wishing to prevent mental health challenges as well as those who are currently struggling with mental health disturbances, here are some tips that can help:
Maintain a healthy routine with balanced meals, regular moderate exercise, adequate sleep, and time for self-care. A diet that supports mental health includes mainly whole foods that are nutrient dense and don’t contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners or synthetic food additives. The brain requires essential fatty acids (such as the Omega-3s in fish oil, flax seed and hemp seed oils), vitamins and minerals, and amino acids (such as tryptophan, the building block of serotonin, the mood boosting neurotrasmitter). Our body is capable of making all the neurotransmitters it needs to stay balanced and function well. However, stress and lack of nutrition, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep can all disrupt the body’s ability to regulate itself. The solution would be to get into a healthy routine. Psychiatric drugs do not fix any of the factors contributing to the problem, they merely provide a temporary mask or compensation for the problem and can lead to various adverse effects including addiction. Avoid the temptation to use drugs, either recreational or prescribed, to coverup your problems.
One’s mental habits and spiritual outlook can have a big impact on mental health. Meditation, prayer, being a part of supportive groups, and other spiritually uplifting activities are great ways to boost mental health. Clearing away stress and feeling connected to a higher power or Divine guidance can provide relief from psychological stress. Reading books that provide self-help resources can assist with maintaining a healthy mental outlook. Learning to be more present in the “present,” letting go of past anger or resentment, overcoming fears, healing trauma, and building trust in life and in oneself are important elements of mental health. There are many books on these topics now available, with publishing companies such as Hay House and Sounds True offering a variety of books, audio recordings, and DVDs designed to help people transform their lives and feel more happy, healthy, and fulfilled.
For those seeking specific treatment for mental health challenges there are many therapeutic resources to choose from. Psychotherapists who offer support and an opportunity to process your thoughts and feelings in an accepting environment can offer the benefits of traditional talk therapy. Other therapists may specialize in techniques designed to help release stress or trauma. Hypnotherapy, neurolinguistic programming, energy psychology, EMDR, bodywork psychotherapy, energy healing, breathwork, and other approaches can help people release old patterns and connect to a feeling of well-being and peace. Holistic physicians and nutrition professionals can give guidance on diet and nutrition, sometimes having patients tested to see what nutritents they may lack or what foods could be causing negative reactions. Mental health truly involves finding a healthy balance with body, mind, and spirit.