Mental Health & Ideas For Improving It

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Health Awareness Month Part III

October 16th is National Mental Health Awareness Day.  Some of the questions I ask myself are:

What is mental health? What is mental illness? How do I determine if mine is good, bad, ugly or indifferent? What causes our mental health to get out of balance? How does being out of balance physically or nutritionally affect our mental state? How do life experiences affect or mental health?

As a fitness professional as well as a life coach, yoga and Pilates instructor, I have taught and worked with, and used breathing patterns, aromatherapy, exercise poses, meditation, nutrition, tapping, journaling, physical activity, and herbal teas for improving mental health, yet I wanted to gather a deeper understanding of the mind/ body process and have done a lot of research in the past few months.

Below are some of my findings.

What is Mental Health?

According to the Mental Health Commission, good mental health is defined as: A sense of well-being, confidence, and self-esteem. Good mental health enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment. When we’re feeling centered and grounded, we can:

Form positive relationships
Use our abilities to reach our potential
Deal with life’s challenges

What is Mental Illness?

A mental health problem affects how a person thinks, feels, interacts with other people, and behaves.

Diagnosis’ include:

Anxiety
Schizophrenia
Bipolar mood disorders
Personality disorders
Eating disorders
Depression

What causes Mental Challenges?

There is no one cause, challenges arise from complex interactions between mind, body and environment.  Factors which can contribute include:

Long-Term Stress
Acute Stress
Biological factors including: genetics, chemistry or hormones
Use of alcohol, drugs and other substances
Cognitive patterns including negative thoughts or low self-esteem
Social factors including isolation, financial problems, family breakdowns, medical diagnosis’, violence or traumatic events.

How Does One Improve Mental Health?

Talk about or express your feelings
Exercise regularly
Eat healthy meals
Get enough sleep
Spend time with true friends or loved ones
Learn something new
Practice relaxation skills
Set realistic goals
Consult a reputable health professional

The connection between physical activity, clean eating and mental health are becoming clearer. In a study at the Karolinska Institute it was determined that exercise detoxes harmful chemicals from the bloodstream as muscles produce an enzyme that eliminates molecules believed to be linked to depression, while The BDA research shows that nutrient rich foods contribute to better concentration, more energy and an improvement in mood.

Next week we will focus on Food and Mood.

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