Thankfully, it is becoming more mainstream to nurture both physical and mental health. Society is understanding the link between mental and physical health, and just how one can impact the other for good or bad.
What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?
Performance 1 trains athletes and they pose an interesting question: do you work out to first strengthen the mind, or do you need to strengthen the mind to have the stamina to work out?
We can all agree that dedicated athletes have a mind-body connection. They dig deep and find the endurance they need to push themselves physically. When their mental health suffers, whether it’s a lack of confidence or bouts of depression, so too is their physical health affected.
So, what do you need to work on first, your mental health or your physical health? The answer varies from person to person, but let’s explore some options and see just how closely related the two are.
What Affects Our Mental Health
Physical illness can do a number on our mental health. It can be exhausting and depressing to be at war with one’s body, whether it’s just a lingering cold or a chronic ailment. In addition to our physical health playing a part, Alpine Clinic shares the following list of experiences that can negatively impact our overall mental state.
- History of abuse (physical, emotional, mental)
- Substance abuse
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Unfortunately, sometimes when we’re experiencing these things, it can feel impossible to dig out of the circumstances. Even when we know what to do to improve our mental health, taking the first step can be the hardest part.
How to Improve Mental Health
When making lifestyle changes to improve your mental health, it’s important to start small. Making one change at a time is less overwhelming, and allows you to understand what’s making a difference and what isn’t.
One of the most common suggestions for improving mental health is making social connections with others. But, that’s easier said than done for many! Maybe starting with one of the following suggestions is more doable.
Give your brain the nutrients it needs by feeding your body a variety of foods. Add in more fresh fruits and vegetables, swap out a sugary drink for water, or snack on nuts instead of processed foods.
If the thought of changing up your meals is overwhelming, consider adding supplements to your diet in the form of vitamins or drink mix-ins. You can also change the way you approach mealtime, even if your food stays the same. Try to be mindful while eating, putting away distractions and instead focusing on each bite, or conversation with loved ones around the table.
Adjust Sleeping Habits
Lack of sleep can significantly affect our mental health. Getting more sleep is no easy feat, but there are some tricks you can try to get into a better sleep routine.
- Reduce room temperature to between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit
- Stop screen time one hour before you’d like to retire
- Use blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask to reduce light exposure
- Stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time, even on days off
- Start your day with 30 minutes of sunshine
- Limit naps during the day
- Try to engage in physical activity daily
- Journal daily to help sort out problems or worries from the day
Do you ever have a conversation with a friend and feel refreshed afterward? Even if you didn’t find a solution for a problem, the act of talking about it with someone you trust is cathartic. Bottling things up can hurt our mental wellbeing, so consider adding talk therapy into your care plan.
There are so many options these days for therapy, whether it’s in-person or online. Some telehealth therapy allows you to keep your camera off, or to communicate with a therapist via text when needed. If one treatment modality doesn’t work for you, don’t give up; explore another option until you find the right fit.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do when your mental health is struggling is get up and move your body. But, it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Exercise releases “feel good” hormones that can help boost happiness.
Start small by taking a walk around your neighborhood. Or download an app that offers workout routines you can do at home. A bonus with exercise is that you can form bonds with others, whether it’s a walking buddy or other members of a group exercise class.
Change of Scenery
Planning and taking a trip may be out of the question when your mental health is suffering. But, what about simply changing where you set up your workstation? Instead of plopping on the couch to log an eight-hour day, carve out space at the kitchen table, or add a desk to a corner of a room.
Make your home a place you want to be, and not a place you feel trapped. aDd live plants to your windowsills, paint the walls or apply removable wallpaper. Once you’ve tackled that, maybe you’ll feel ready to venture out for a vacation or a visit to one of your favorite local places.
Do Something Familiar
Trying new things can be intimidating for anyone. But add in a mental health crisis and it can feel impossible. Instead, do something familiar. Do something you’re already good at. There’s nothing wrong with watching your favorite TV show again or vacationing in a familiar place for the umpteenth time. It can foster your feelings of self-confidence while easing anxiety.
Invest in Yourself
Sometimes self-doubt prevents us from fulfilling our potential. Whether it’s being self-conscious about our physical appearance, our social skills, or our perception of our self-worth, sometimes we need to make some investments to see returns.
Investing in yourself can mean different things for different people.
- Upgrade your wardrobe
- Continue your education
- Hire a physical trainer
- Hire a nutritionist
- Hire a housecleaner
- Participate in therapy
There are many things we can’t change on our own, so if there’s a lingering issue that’s affecting your mental or physical health, you may want to seek out a consultation with an expert who can help. Whether it’s a tattoo, a scar, or hair loss, a board-certified plastic surgeon may help you get the results you need to start regaining confidence in yourself. Let your outward appearance reflect how you feel on the inside.
As you can see, many steps that we can take to help our mental health are directly related to our physical health. Diet and exercise especially are two ways to improve our overall wellness.
Remember that no matter what, you don’t have to undertake any of these challenges alone. There is a community around you that wants to see you succeed.
6 Ways to Stave Away Brain Fog
Do you often find yourself counting sheep, or unable to remember important matters without tying a string around your finger? Would you describe your mental state as foggy, or your physical vitality as depleted? Are you easily irritated by small things?
If fatigue, headaches, lack of sleep, and a foggy mind are bringing down your quality of life and preventing you from reaching your potential, you may be suffering from what is often called ‘brain fog’. This can be caused by a variety of lifestyle factors, and can usually be cleared up by making small tweaks in the following areas:
- Reduce Screen Time
Staring at a screen for long periods has been associated with anxiety, stress, and depression. When your eyes take in a lot of blue light from your cell phone before bedtime, it can even decrease the amount of melatonin produced by your brain, making it hard to fall asleep and setting you up for a tired day ahead.
Control your use of cell phones and other screened electronic devices by leaving them in a different room for certain periods of the day or setting reminders to stop impulsive scrolling! You may also want to buy glasses that filter out blue light, especially if your job entails looking at a screen.
- Alleviate Stress and Anxiety
Stress floods your body with a hormone called ‘cortisol’. If there are high enough concentrations of this chemical present in your brain over a long period, it will start to impair your cognitive abilities, as well as your ability to store and recall memories. This hormone is an especially prominent contributor to brain fog.
Stress and anxiety-reducing supplements can help your body return to peaceful homeostasis. This will give you the clear-minded energy to tackle whatever stressors caused your elevated cortisol levels in the first place. Try this in conjunction with meditative practices, and watch your anxiety levels drop significantly!
- Enjoy a Healthy Diet and Exercise
When your brain isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs to carry out its functions effectively, you will likely feel bogged down and desolate when it comes to ideas! This can either happen due to deficiencies in your diet or an inefficient flow of blood to your brain. The latter is often caused by a lack of healthy exercise.
To replenish your mind and find motivation once again, feed it the vitamins and minerals it needs! Exercise regularly to transport them to your brain with a steady and efficient flow of blood. A program that provides nutrition and training plans will be able to determine which habits are inhibiting your mind and meliorate your brain fog.
- Take Care of Your Teeth
Poor dental hygiene is perhaps the most hidden contributor to brain fog, and also one of the most potentially dangerous. Substances that are released into the body from inflamed gums and infections in the mouth are toxic to the brain. Cells in the cerebrum can be damaged by these dangerous secretions!
Take care of your teeth with a sufficient daily dental care routine, and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. If any tooth or jaw pain arises, make an appointment immediately to prevent further inflammation and infection. Following the advice of a trusted dentist is vital to lifting the veil of brain fog. When you do, you’ll start smiling again, and your smile will be even more beautiful!
- Cultivate Healthy Sleeping Patterns
Many important processes happen in your sleep, including the removal of toxins. When sleep deprivation occurs, the brain has not had ample time to complete these processes. This results in decreased cognitive functioning and impairment in the mind’s ability to process, store, and recall memories—otherwise known as brain fog!
Try to cultivate healthy sleeping patterns by going to bed and waking up at the same times every day, avoiding caffeine in the evenings, and setting your environment up to facilitate deep slumber: comfortable, dark, and quiet. If you are still struggling, try taking supplements that support sleep to help stave away insomnia!
- Detoxify Your Body and Brain
Toxins can really take a toll on your mental faculties! There are both inescapable and avoidable substances that can seep into your body and fog up your head. These include external chemicals such as pollution and pesticides, and internally ingested ones like drugs and alcohol. Not only do these cause damage, but they also might warrant the repair of brain tissue to restore cognitive clarity.
Limiting alcohol and nicotine consumption, or avoiding it altogether, will give your body fewer toxins to deal with so it can catch up on its natural detoxification process. To support it in repairing its tissues after exposure to harsh substances and chemicals, take a brain repair supplement! This works especially well when going sober after extensive drug and alcohol use.
Get back to your best self by staving away brain fog! If you follow these six tips, you may even feel more clear-headed, rested, and capable than ever before. Once you begin, you will likely feel more motivated to keep moving forward with a healthier lifestyle. Take the first step today to start experiencing a more vivid version of life!
Untreated conditions involving brain fog can lead to more serious ones like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss. If your symptoms don’t go away after making these lifestyle changes, you should see a doctor to pinpoint the underlying issue and treat it accordingly!
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