Hack Your Mental Health With These 5 Tips
Like any other organ, your brain is alive and constantly changing. This is great news for anyone who struggles with anxiety, depression, or other negative neural pathways. If your brain is capable of changing and hormones or stimuli that induce symptoms of anxiety can be balanced, you can (with the guidance of your physician) holistically work your way towards mental wellness.
This is not only important because stress can negatively impact your life, but also because your brain health impacts your overall physical well-being. You can read our blog on how your mental health plays a role in immune system health here. If you stay “stuck” in certain mindsets for too long, your motivation to do healthy things like eat right, exercise, and engage in social activities will dwindle, impacting your overall health. Very few deeply negative people do well with regard to overall health. Many deeply positive people do.
Exercise. Exercise is difficult to work yourself up to if you feel at a loss for what to do. However, it is one of the best ways to heal your brain and body alike. There have been numerous studies that have suggested exercise stimulates neuron growth by boosting BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) levels. This results in new neuron and new neuron pathways, which can rewire old, harmful thought processes. You don’t have to hit the gym for 3 hours to do this – try to get 30 minutes of exercise, such as a walk outside, morning yoga, or something else small and easily achievable on a daily basis. In fact, physical activity at even low levels for just 15 minutes a day is associated with a 3-year increase in life expectancy and a 14% drop in all-cause mortality. You’ll feel better for accomplishing your exercise routine that day, and help to heal your brain over time.
Sleep. Sleep is the time of day when your body actively heals and restores muscle tissue, surface injuries, and more. Sleep helps your body perform “housekeeping” projects – healing tissues, reducing inflammation, and more. For the brain to detoxify, sleep is mandatory. To improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest, turn off all screens an hour or two before bedtime. Start a nighttime “ritual” that will tell your brain to begin winding down. A relaxing shower, reading a book, and switching from overhead lights to soft lamp light will signal to your brain that it’s time to relax. Blocking blue light also helps if screens must be used at night.
Meditation. Start small, with only 5 or 10 minutes a day, and slowly build up over time. Focus on your breaths or heartbeat to relax and turn your focus inward. Over time, as you learn to quiet your mind, you will reap the benefits of a mindfulness practice. A 2018 Harvard study indicated that just 15 minutes of meditation a day was linked to a meaningful decrease in blood pressure.
Achieve Dietary Balance. Make sure to eat balanced meals, or supplement where necessary. Go on walks outside to get Vitamin D. You can track your macro intake using free apps to make sure you’re getting the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and more. Your brain can only function properly with the right nutrition. Support your other efforts – exercise, meditation, and more – by making sure your brain has the right building blocks to reshape neural pathways.
Vitamin deficiencies have been linked to inhibiting hippocampal neurogenesis – the formation of neurons that promote memory, a balanced mood, and more. If you notice that you’re struggling to get all the right vitamins in your diet, supplement with a trusted multivitamin. It is highly unlikely that you are receiving the number of phytochemicals required on a daily basis for proper brain health; sometimes supplementation is the only way.
Give yourself grace. Fitting all these new wellness practices into your daily life can be daunting – you’ll forget to exercise one day, and not feel up to meditating the next. Don’t feed into the cycle of negativity by harboring guilt over not being perfect at establishing a wellness routine. That guilt will only make it harder for you to pick it back up again the next day. Very few of us have private chefs and time to exercise constantly; we know this. But even little changes can make a large difference for your life and for optimal aging.
Dr. Meredith Warner, founder of Well Theory is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a thriving private practice in Louisiana, USA. Her practice allows her the freedom to treat patients in the best way possible – on an individual basis. It has always been her goal to seek non-operative treatment and functional recovery over surgical or heavy pharmaceutical means of healing.
At Well Theory, we want to help you live well. Check out our Herbal Kitchen for easy, filling, and healthy meals, our line of wellness products for supplementing your healthy lifestyle, and continue to browse our blog for healthy living tips & tricks!
Dr. Meredith Warner is the creator of Well Theory and The Healing Sole. She is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Air Force Veteran.
She is on a mission to disrupt traditional medicine practices and promote betterment physically, spiritually and mentally to many more people. She advocates for wellness and functional health over big pharma so more people can age vibrantly with more function and less pain.
At Well Theory, Our surgeon-designed products are FDA Registered and formulated to help people:
- Manage the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain
- Recover vibrantly from orthopedic related surgeries
- Fill the gaps in our daily diets
- Manage pain associated with inflammation
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