Patients are looking for ways to increase mental health and reduce stress on a daily basis. It is important as life throws many curveballs. Therefore, enhancing lifestyle factors is significant to the quality of life. This can improve brain function and mental health.
The following is the foundation of good brain health, according to integrative psychiatrist Dr. James Lake M.D. He refers to them as the “four pillars of mental health” to reduce stress and improve brain function:
- Physical activity
- Healthy nutrition.
- Sleep management.
- Stress management.
Physical activity may be one of the easiest ways to maintain brain function and feel better overall. This does not mean full workouts and extreme activities. Causal movement on a daily basis to a moderate amount of activity. For example, walking for 30 minutes per day, house cleaning, and yard work. If you are able, hiking or other more vigorous activities work too. Being out in nature can help relieve stress while staying isolated during the current pandemic.
Many studies have shown the positive connection between physical activities and improved mental health. Researchers show those who suffer from anxiety or depression often benefit from the increased activity.
Proper nutrition is key to optimizing brain function and improving mental health. Studies have shown those with a healthy diet of essential nutrients have higher brain function. Also, it helps you manage stress easier, and feel better throughout the day. A healthy diet of grains, vegetables, fish, and essential vitamins is an important pillar of mental health.
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is significant to overall health and brain function. The body requires enough time to fall asleep and enter the deep sleep stage called REM. A regular pattern helps you wake up feeling better, more refreshed, and ready to take on the day.
For good sleep management, consider what you do during the day that may prevent you from getting proper sleep. Things you do during the day can hinder you from getting enough deep sleep. For example, it is recommended you turn off electronics an hour before you lay down. The blue light it emits does not prevent you from sleeping. Students should also finish studying an hour before lying down.
If you have anxiety conditions, a quiet space where you can practice meditation can help you sleep better. Individuals that get efficient sleep are often more resilient to emotion. This includes dealing with depression and stress.
Stress management can be easy or a more complex pillar of mental health. The way you manage stress may vary based on spiritual beliefs, religion, or other preferences. Some may listen to music while getting work done or choose to practice breathing techniques. Others may combine soothing sounds with breathing to reduce anxiety levels.
Yoga is another good tool for being mindful and calming your mind. Certain poses even enhance better sleep if done an hour or so before laying down. It helps relieve stress and anxiety, calms the mind, and stretches the body to be more relaxed during sleep.
Because the future is never known, faith and spiritual practices are other efficient tools. It can improve brain function, mental health, and overall well-being. Individuals can engage within religious work or communities to become closer. Depending on beliefs, this may be Buddhist prayers, meditation, or praying. By having deeper spiritual thinking, many have effectively reduced their stress and anxiety levels.
There has been endless research done to learn more about mental health and brain functions. These four areas are thought to be the foundation of good mental health and quality of life. Try to improve your sleep, manage stress, eat healthily and get moving. You may see it improves your day-to-day mental conditions.