Healthy Mind Suggestions
Why don’t we have parity between mental health and physical health?
While our brains are clever and complicated devices, we understand much about how to get them to function at their most productive. These suggestions are simple a starting point in an effort to understand how we can live healthier lives.
Each person is different when it comes to their mindfuness and wellbeing and therefore, people need to find their own activities and approaches to situations that work for them.
Some people will find mindfulness exercises such as meditation contribute to their wellbeing, while someone else may not.
This sections contains general information, hints and activities that you may find useful to build and maintain your personal wellbeing and improve your overall mental health.
According to research, regular exercise can ease the symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. Improved fitness also boosts self-esteem, results in better sleep patterns, improves your blood pressure and cholesterol and helps you lose weight.
It is imperative that you start gently. A walk around the block is a good beginning, especially if done with someone else as this helps break social isolation and exposes you to sunshine. Then, slowly build up.
A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week is recommended. If you have done little exercise before, smoke, are overweight or have heart disease or another chronic health problem you should talk to your doctor before starting a vigorous exercise program.
At its simplest, mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way to the present moment, without judgment. It means learning to rest your mind and body by focusing on the present moment.
By learning mindfulness, it is possible to ease stress and learn how to live with troubling thoughts. It allows you to acknowledge these thoughts non-judgmentally, that is without dwelling them in a negative or positive way, before letting them go.
There are many techniques for practicing mindfulness. Meditation is one and focusing on your breath is another. You can do mindfulness exercises in a chair at home, lying down, eating your dinner, listening to music or even waiting for a bus.
Studies show these exercises help people better deal with pain, stress, anxiety and depression. You can join classes to be guided through exercises or use books, DVDs or online instructions to start.
For some mindfulness exercises visit www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Punctuatingthedaywithmindfulness.pdf
For more information about mindfulness visit www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/mindfulness
Most adults need seven or eight hours sleep a night while teenagers and babies need more. Older people may need less.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day so your body clock is set to a routine.
- Don’t nap during the day.
- Relax quietly for an hour before bed so no TV or screen time.
- Don’t drink caffeine in the five hours before you go to bed or take other stimulants such as illegal drugs.
- Exercise helps you sleep but not too close to bedtime. If you rely on alcohol to help you fall asleep, you are likely to have disturbed sleep.
If you are still having trouble sleeping, see your doctor.
Jump-start your metabolism and your day with a good breakfast. Even if you’re short on time, you can grab a quick piece of toast with nut butter, banana and honey. Grains are another healthy breakfast option.
Smart phones, computers, tablets and e-readers make it very easy to get stuck in front of a screen for hours on end. Take a break and walk away from the screens to have a stretch and enjoy some time outside. It will help your posture, eyesight and clear your mind.
People with healthy relationships live longer, but now some studies are showing that people without a social community have greater health risks. According to one study, “Weak social ties are more harmful than not exercising and twice as risky as being obese.” Connecting with people is one of the five things people who live to be 100 had in common.
Do Activities You Enjoy
This sounds easier than it sometimes can be. We’ve all signed up for new classes at the gym or a new sports league with high hopes, but may dread the actual experience. You’re much more likely to stick to your new routine if you enjoy it, and you’ll benefit both mentally and physically.
Buy or Adopt a Pet
A pet is certainly a great friend. After a hard day at work, pet owners quite literally feel loved. Research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits. Pets help lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety and boost our immunity. They are also good for you socially to meet new people.