Mastering the methods that can improve your mental health should be a daily occurrence, not reserved for mental health month, but May is just as good as any time to take stock of our lifestyle and wondering if we are feeding our minds with the level of care we deserve.
Here, M&F takes a look at 5 ways you can make positive changes to your mental health today by focusing on the mind-body connection and maintaining homeostasis.
Small steps can improve your mental health by leaps and bounds.
When we suffer from poor mental health, our motivation levels suffer, making us feel even worse because of our inactivity. The idea that getting out of our comfort zone is good for our long-term happiness is a proven concept, and a study conducted in 2005 assessed more than 275,000 people in 225 studies to show that those seeking new life goals, were more likely to feel positive emotions and enjoy more self-confidence.
The good news is that making positive change can start today with the smallest of steps. A simple daily walk will force you to get off the couch and carry your own body weight, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, not to mention the confidence-boosting effects of increasing muscle and endurance, while losing fat. . And when you’re ready to take the next step, try interval walking where you run short bursts of above your normal pace followed by a period of walking at your normal level. You’ll throw away that brain fog in no time, you’ll feel sharper and more positive. Heck, even your memory will improve. “My lab tested the memory benefits by enrolling 64 sedentary but cognitively healthy seniors in our community-based program held at our local senior gym; the Physical Activity Center of Excellence (PACE),” said Dr. Jennifer Heisz, a brain health expert and director of the NeuroFit Lab. Exercise sessions were supervised three times a week for 12 weeks. As the participants’ fitness improved, we increased the speed or incline of the treadmill to reach the target intensity. After only 12 weeks of interval walking, the seniors’ memory had improved by 30%, and this better memory was directly related to their fitness gain. During the harder intervals, you know you’re working hard enough when it gets hard for you to carry on a conversation; researchers call this the ‘Talk Test’.”
Move your myokines to improve your mental health
We’ve all heard of the “runners high,” which is experienced as a result of the endorphins released in the brain when we exercise intensively, but medical science is also discovering that your muscles also secrete chemicals that can be beneficial to your mental health. health.
“When we exercise, our muscles release these amazing factors called myokines, which facilitate crosstalk between the muscles and other organs of the body, including the brain,” says Dr. Jennifer Heisz. Myokines are proteins released by our muscle cells after their contraction. There are thought to be over 100 different myokines, and more are being identified, and their benefits appear to include improved metabolic function, tissue repair, and brain health.
“Myokines provide a mechanism through which exercise can influence brain function to alter mood and cognition,” says Dr. Heisz. “One way myokines affect brain function is by reducing systemic inflammation. This is especially beneficial for individuals with depressive drug resistance, whose low mood has been linked to high levels of inflammation.”
Your gut health can boost your mental health
The digestive tract (the walls in the long tube of your gut), is often described as the “second brain” and is believed to play a role in our emotional well-being. So it makes sense that taking care of our gut health has a positive impact on our overall happiness.
“Good gut health and function depends on a number of things,” says Dr. Bill Cole, the founder of Key Cellular Nutrition and the Cellular Health Accelerator Program. “First, a healthy intestinal mucosa acts as a barrier that keeps things out of the gut that should stay out, and also things in that shouldn’t stay there. Leaky gut, otherwise known as gut permeability, is epidemic in our society. That’s where damage to the gut lining creates microscopic holes through which things like undigested proteins, toxins, bacteria and viruses can flood the bloodstream, triggering an immune response that can lead to autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation throughout the body. are caused by a poor diet, too much stress and certain medications such as antibiotics.
Eating a wholesome diet consisting of things like grass-fed and organic meats, wild fish, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, raw dairy products, organic fruits and vegetables is one of the very best things we can do to help damaged gut. cured. Taking probiotics and eating raw fermented vegetables will also help repopulate the gut with good bacteria. A tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water before a meal or two a day can aid in digestion as well as healing. In addition, L-glutamine powder, an amino acid, has also been shown to help heal the intestinal lining. The benefits of a healthy gut are many. Science shows that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, may have been on to something since he believed that all diseases begin with an unhealthy gut. I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but nearly 40 years in the health sector has shown me that so many conditions are rooted in an unhealthy gut.”
Get a good night’s sleep for body and mind
If your mom always said, “Things will look better after a good night’s sleep,” she was really up to something. Exercise and a good shuteye go hand in hand when it comes to maintaining a strong mind and body.
“The more we exercise during the day, the better we sleep at night,” says Dr. Heisz. “This is because exercise breaks down ATP (the cellular energy currency) into adenosine, which is sensed by the brain and induces sleep. As we age, we are more likely to experience symptoms of insomnia, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. We may spend less time in deep sleep, meaning the brain has less time to refresh or recharge at night, making it harder for us to think and feel good the next day. When you exercise, you can synchronize your circadian rhythm so that you fall asleep faster.You can also train according to your chronotype.For example, ‘night owls’ who want to wake up earlier can try exercising in the morning or early in the afternoon, while ‘morning larks’ can try to exercise in the evening.
Boost Your Metabolism While Improving Your Mental Health
If sleep isn’t the place to rejuvenate your energy levels, make sure you’re getting the right nutrients and don’t overload yourself with highly processed comfort foods that leave you feeling lethargic after that initial rush. “Hormones play a very important role in our energy levels,” says Dr. Cole. “For example, the hormone insulin is responsible for driving glucose into the cell, which is an important fuel source.
In addition, the thyroid hormone; T3 is our main metabolic hormone. When produced in sufficient amounts, T3 can enter the cells for which it is responsible, increasing metabolism. Metabolism is the chemical reaction in the cell that converts food into energy so that the person has good energy, loses weight more easily and has good gut and brain function. The old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away may not be entirely true, but it points to something that is: natural diets and a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce the need for doctor visits and medications as we age. Our asset is that we have a body designed for health and healing. Science calls it homeostasis. It is our body’s natural ability to adapt to the ever-changing internal and external environments. We can create the environment within us that supports homeostasis or we can create an environment that disrupts it.”