By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Did you know poor mental and emotional health doesn’t just stay in your head? It’s true. Neglecting to care for your mental and emotional health can have serious consequences on your physical health. For instance, studies have proven that mental health instability can often lead to problems with your:
If you are someone who suffers from anxiety, or if you find it difficult to calm your racing thoughts, you should practice mindful meditation. Mindfulness meditation is all about taking a moment to exercise living in the moment and calming those anxiety-inducing loud and wandering thoughts. There are several breathing exercises taught under mindful meditation practices through which you can minimize the impact of negative thoughts and reach a higher level of self-awareness. Make sure to check out our five tips for using mindfulness for stress reduction and try it for yourself.
Beyond stress and anxiety, experts say that mindful meditation is a powerful tool against depression as it helps you restructure your train of thought. Plus, these exercises can be effective in decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially in senior citizens. Also, if you suffer from chronic pain, or if you have just started your weight loss journey and want to be in a more positive mind-frame, you should try mindful meditation.
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ a million times, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to maintaining good emotional health. If you don’t take notice of the food that you’re eating, you’ll end up missing out on the nutrients your body desperately needs for necessary functions, including your mental health.
What you eat can even affect your mood. For example, it has been proven that if you constantly consume a high percentage of processed carbohydrates, it can raise your blood sugar levels and keep them fluctuating. Surprisingly, this fluctuation can make you feel irritated with everything in life, including work and personal relationships.
Luckily, if you’re still working on eating mindfully, you can still make up for the nutrient deficiencies in your body with vitamins and supplements. Supplementation can be a highly effective method of stabilizing your metabolism as well as your mental facilities. A proven one is the Ladder superfood greens, a powerful supplement that can provide a great nutritional punch usually found in vegetables.
Lack of sleep and disturbed sleeping patterns can have very disturbing effects on your physical and emotional health. If you are not sleeping properly, then your body will suffer from an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, impairment of memory functions, and reduction in immune system functioning. It also puts you at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety.
Sleeping regularly for the recommended number of hours helps you recover from both mental and physical exhaustion. According to a recent Harvard study, for optimal health conditions both physical and emotional, adults should get at least 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep daily. However, you shouldn’t sleep more than the recommended amount, as sleeping too much can also leave a negative impact on your emotional wellbeing.
It’s a commonly known fact that exercise and physical activity can help significantly improve your mood and make you feel more at ease with yourself. If you aren’t a very active person, your body will have trouble releasing feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins, released as a result of physical activity, not only help reduce anxiety and depression but are also known to help boost self-esteem.
These days, many doctors are prescribing yoga for improving emotional well-being. Practicing yoga promotes mental clarity and calmness through breathing exercises that increase the body’s sense of awareness. In turn, this aids in relieving chronic stress patterns and relaxing the mind. If possible, try keeping a yoga journal to track your progress and ensure you’re meeting your daily goals.
You might not think of creative works as playing a great part in your mental health, but that couldn’t be further away from the truth! Did you know, creativity is an amazing reducer of anxiety and depression? Many psychologists claim that creative activities can be effective in processing trauma and intrusive thoughts. Activities like painting and writing can help you manage your negative emotions and stress in a productive manner.
According to another Harvard study, when you successfully create something, your body releases a hormone known as dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter closely associated with the feeling of happiness. This released dopamine improves the emotional connection you have with other people and also helps you regulate emotions.
Also, journaling for mental health is an incredibly effective method when it comes to mindfulness and keeping your negative thoughts in check. Keeping a daily journal will allow you to put down in writing your fears, goals, and aims, essentially giving them structure so you can handle them easily. This is much better than leaving such thoughts as abstract ideas floating around in your mind. Journaling can help you organize and process these thoughts and feelings before they start negatively impacting your mental health. Start journaling and reclaim your mind space each morning or night.
Journaling is also an effective way to record your ideas and is a powerful tool in battling procrastination, demotivation, and lack of inspiration. Constantly writing things down can also boost your memory while simultaneously allowing you to be more productive and organized. Looking back on the things you have written down over a period of time is also a motivating way to self-reflect.
From physical well-being to social relationships, your emotional health impacts nearly every facet of your life. It is easy to lose sight of this remarkably important aspect of your health as you juggle the daily stressors of life, such as caretaking those around you and simultaneously trying to support your own physical wellbeing.
By refusing to take proper care of your emotional well-being, you become more susceptible to exhaustion and burn-outs. Unstable mental health not only over-consumes your mental resources, but it also soaks up every drop of your creative abilities.
Although it can seem burdensome at first, prioritizing your mental and emotional health will not only increase your productivity, retention, and cognition, it will also positively influence your interpersonal relationships, physical health, and your overall sense of self-worth.
Nurturing your emotional and mental health can be easy and enjoyable. Reward and nurture yourself by practicing emotional health habits including,
No matter where you are in your emotional and physical health journey, make some time out of your busy life and focus on yourself. Your mind and body will thank you.