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Mind Matters: Three Powerful Ways To Nurture Your Mental Health & Wellness

The worldwide mental health crisis represents a pervasive challenge affecting millions, shaped by diverse factors such as socio-economic disparities, trauma, stigma, and for some people, limited access to care. This crisis manifests in various forms, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, trauma-related disorders, mood disorders, and substance abuse.

Good mental health involves coping with stress, navigating daily challenges, maintaining satisfying relationships, and making rational decisions. It does not solely imply the absence of mental illness but rather denotes a state of emotional resilience, balance, and a positive sense of wellbeing.

It is important to understand that if we can adhere to certain positive principles for living our lives, we will greatly enhance our mental health and wellbeing.

Taking care of our biology, which includes both the mind and the body, is without a doubt an obvious one. It is all about daily self-care, which we tend to so easily overlook.

Optimising our autonomic nervous system is a good place to start, as it regulates our wake/sleep cycle (circadian rhythm), affects how we react in situations and produces our neurotransmitters, among other functions, which in turn sets the stage for conscious work (such as figuring out our purpose in life). So, if our goal is to be in the best possible mood and mental health we must pay attention to some basic principles: Sleep, daylight and darkness during the 24-hour cycle, movement, nutrition, social connections, and stress control.

We have covered most of these topics in a previous blog “Wake up Refreshed: Optimise Your Sleep for a Better Day Ahead”, so head to our blogs to read on.

We will now dive into three crucial principles to nurture our mental health: daylight exposure, social connections and stress control. So scroll down to learn more about each one and how to implement them.

Day/Night Light Exposure

A study conducted by Nature Mental Health (published on 9th October 2023) performed the largest cross-sectional piece of analysis to date of light, sleep, physical activity, and mental health in 85,000 people.

The scientists examined the independent association of day and night-time light exposure with covariate-adjusted risk (baseline variables when estimating treatment effects) for psychiatric disorders and self-harm.

Greater night-time light exposure was associated with an increased risk for major depressive disorders, generalised anxiety disorders, PTSD, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and self-harm behaviour.

This study confirms that getting as much natural sunlight as possible during the day and sleeping 6-8 hours per night in complete darkness significantly enhances our mental health.

Social Connections

Our social connections and interactions can either cause us stress or happiness. Remember that we do not just have a nervous system that regulates itself through our thoughts and experiences, we also interact with other nervous systems, whether human or animal.

Whilst we cannot always avoid unpleasant interactions at work or in our personal lives, we must pay close attention to them. Stressful relationships will have negative effects on our mental health in the long term, while happy interactions can cause good physiological changes, providing us with metabolic and neurochemical resources that make us feel more capable, with elevated mood and improved mental health.

I invite you to spend 5-10 minutes of your time thinking about which individuals or groups make you feel upset and stressed out, and drain your energy (in real life or online). Limit the time you spend with these people as much as you can.

Now think about the neutral connections, that neither make you feel good, nor drain your energy and lastly think about those who make you feel happy and positive. These social connections have a significant impact on our mental health, so choose your company wisely.  

Stress Control

Let’s be realistic, stress will happen from time to time because life is filled with so-called "stressors". We all understand that long-term stress is not good for us, however, occasional stress allows us to harness our mental and physical resources and at times can even be performance-enhancing.

What is important is to learn and implement stress management tools, which is where mindfulness comes into the picture.

So what does it mean to be mindful? Stanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo described it like this: “When you are mindful, you are fully aware of your surroundings and of yourself in the present. Mindfulness increases the time you swim with your head above water when you see both potential dangers and pleasures. When you are mindful, you are aware of your position and your destination. You can make corrections to your path.“

Nurturing mental wellness through mindfulness can work in real time supporting us with stress reduction, emotional regulation, enhanced self-awareness, improved sleep quality, and overall boosted wellbeing. Mindfulness encompasses various techniques and practices that create present-moment awareness and non-judgemental acceptance. These include mindful breathing, meditation, body scan meditation, mindful eating, and using practices such as gratitude, appreciation and recognition in our daily lives. For those who spend much of their lives exiled from the present, it is truly transformative.

It becomes evident that mental health and mindfulness are intertwined in a profound and beneficial relationship.

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, integrating mindfulness into our daily routine becomes not just an option, but a pivotal choice for nurturing resilience, finding balance, and fostering a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us.

Embark on your journey towards your mental wellbeing today, with Happy Healthy Holistic. Our Mindfulness Workshops are designed to help you with your healthy habits and achieve your goals.

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