Good mental health starts with proper self-care resulting in improved mood, increased energy, and sound sleep. The basic building blocks of good mental health are as simple and basic as a healthy lifestyle. Our brains produce Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Endorphins, and other chemicals. When these chemicals are “off”, we feel the effects by becoming depressed, anxious, or lethargic.
Start with a good night’s sleep
I know, easier said than done, right? But your brain will not function well with less than optimum sleep. Adequate sleep (at least 7 hours) is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It improves memory, increases creativity, improves learning, sharpens attention, increases metabolism, decreases stress, and improves reaction time when driving. Lack of sleep can contribute to depression and anxiety.
This increases endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters, and improves mood. Exercises could be as simple as taking a walk, a swim, or anything that gets you moving. People can feel an improvement in their mood immediately after exercise. If you are inactive, check with your doctor before starting exercise. Choose an activity you love, make an “appointment” with yourself, and make it a priority.
Food is essential to your health. Good food, that is. Remember the old adage, “you are what you eat”? Studies show that if you eat a diet full of fresh, whole foods which provide essential vitamins and minerals, you will feel healthier and have increased energy. Simple carbohydrates and saturated fats turn off the brain and make you feel sluggish. Surprisingly, long-term abstinence from caffeine can improve mood and performance (James & Rogers, 2005)
Nothing can lift the mood like spending time with a good friend. This helps you cope with stress, decreases stress hormones, increases the feel-good chemical oxytocin, increases feelings of belongingness, increases happiness, decreases, stress, and helps you cope with life stressors.
Humor increases your immune response, increases sleep, and helps you to stretch muscles, breathe faster, and move oxygen to the tissues, similar to exercise. Spend time with good friends. You laugh more with your friends than when you are alone.
What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments. I read every comment and would love to know your thoughts.