Is Your Mental Health In Check?
Do you feel like the past 2 1/2 years are a blur? The pandemic definitely drenched us with isolation, uncertainty, indulgences and feelings of dread. I still feel like I am climbing out of a very deep hole without a ladde, basically just clawing my way back. As we navigate this path back to a restructured lifestyle, we need to get our mindset recalibrated.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I don't know about you, but I have been a work in progress for quite some time. Everything I believe in has been altered, so dialing back in to exercise, stress management, sleep, nutrition, and reconnection can be overwhelming. Let's dissect the basics right here.
Nutrition - food is comfort, but food is also vital to our well-being and brain function. A healthy diet includes a full range of vegetables, fruits, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), fish, whole grains (rice, quinoa, oats, breads, etc.), nuts, avocados and olive oil to support a healthy brain. Sweet and fatty foods should be special treats, not the staples of your diet.
Exercise - now I can get preachy with this one because there is more to it than numbers on a scale. Exercise is medicine. It can prevent diabetes heart disease, metabolic issues, and some cancers. The chemicals released in the brain can help with depression, anxiety, PTSD, appetite, and overall mood.
Sleep - get those 7-8 hours starting today! Sleep is a magic pill for metabolism, hormonal balance, immune function and clears toxins from the brain.
Stress Management - on a scale of 1-10, where are you functioning today? Stress illuminates our body like the Christmas tree in Rockefellar Center. From head to toe, the body absorbs it like a sponge inside and out. Blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, breath rate, digestion, bowel habits, acne, hair loss, weight loss/gain - the list is quite distinguished. I do not like being on the A-list for this one, but unfortunately, like most, I have been over the top on this one.
So let's hop right into steering the STRESS BUS. Here are a few ideas:
a. Journal - write it down - anger, frustration, sadness, joy, gratitude - create a space for your thoughts and open up a time for you to release
b. Breathe - another topic I've addressed in a previous post. Breathe in 3, hold 5, release 7. Do this several times a day to reset your mind/body.
d. Be realistic - learn to say "no" and to set boundaries. People may get uncomfortable with this change, but they will adjust. This is for your well-being
e. Release pefection - are you a superhuman who does it all? Well of course! Guess what? It will slowly kill you and make you a very bitter person. Learn to ask for help or adjust deadlines. If it doesn't happen ASAP, is it life threatening? You know the answer...
The above provides a foundation for finding a path to mindfulness. Thankfully over the years, mental health is no longer a voodoo topic. We don't have to hide behind closed doors. If you can't fix it alone, then asking for help is the next BEST step. I highly recommend counseling to everyone. You do not have to be at rock bottom to speak with someone to gain clarity on a nagging issue or behaviour. Guidance will set you free.
When my mom died January 2021, I lost my heart and any thought process of the future. Not only that, my mind resurrected unpleasant memories and scars started to bleed again. But therapy could not happen privately in an office due to COVID. I reached out to Better Help. It took a couple of counselors for a connection, but it finally fell into place. Now I have an independent online therapist I meet with every 3-4 weeks to continue my journey with grief, relationships, and self-compassion.
I hope this post takes off the mask that mental health is a demon that only caters to deep psychological issues. It is simply the relationship we have with our mind and our body that needs to be nutured on a daily basis and perhaps with a little help.