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Taking care of one’s mental health is key to aging well. As people age, the risk for certain mental illnesses, such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia, proportionately increase. And while decades of medical advancements have helped treat and prevent these conditions and their detrimental effects, many of the tools available are either expensive, invasive, or can present potential side effects that are as detrimental as the condition being treated. Fortunately, there are ways to protect and improve your mental health naturally this year. Here are six ways to do just that:
The benefits of sunlight are well-recorded, with various studies indicating that it can reduce stress by increasing the melatonin level in your body. Melatonin is a hormone that reduces stress reactivity. Getting 30 to 60 minutes of sunlight per day can help reduce anxiety and depression and improve your focus. A controlled amount of sunlight exposure has also been shown to increase lifespan. A study in Sweden that comprised 30,000 women shows that those who got more sunlight lived up to two years more than those who got less sunlight.
Making dietary changes can have powerful benefits on your overall physical and mental health. A diet that is high in preservatives, saturated and trans fats, and empty calories can cause significant damage to your mental health, especially when continued over a protracted amount of time. Change your diet to include fruits and vegetables that are dense in vitamins and minerals. Dark leafy green vegetables, including spinach and kale, have been proven to protect your brain from wear and tear. Foods that are packed with protein and omega-3 fatty oils, such as salmon, are also good for boosting mental health. Other brain foods you should load up on include whole grains, avocados, yogurt, legumes, and nuts.
By improving blood flow, you effectively decrease your body’s heart rate and blood pressure, which ultimately lowers stress. Massage therapy is a good way to improve blood flow, and it doesn’t take an hour-long professional massage to experience the benefits. Controlled research studies have found that the physical and mental changes happened 10 to 15 minutes after the massage therapy session. You can go one step further by adding aromatherapy to your massage to better relax your body and senses.
While there is still a divided widespread view of cannabis use, more studies are showing that cannabis may have beneficial effects when used in a medical context, especially for the treatment of mental illnesses. Studies have found that patients who were given cannabis to treat anxiety had a significant improvement in cognitive functioning as well as a reduction in clinical anxiety-related symptoms. Note that the quality of cannabis plays a massive role in its efficacy and benefits. It’s important to only source your cannabis from trusted dispensaries, such as the best Massachusetts dispensary in your area.
Meditation is a series of techniques that foster relaxation. It is a way to center yourself, improve your focus, and manage pain. Based on a 2014 study by acclaimed John Hopkins University, practicing meditation techniques can help protect your brain and body from psychological stresses and their physiological manifestations. There are different types of meditation that you can pursue, including Guided, Mindfulness, and Transcendental.
Physical exercise doesn’t just whip your body into shape, it also keeps your mind sharp by increasing the level of endorphins in the brain. Exercise increases brain activity and raises your overall mood. Any form of exercise, be it a 30-minute jog in the morning or intense crossfit training, can prevent anxiety and depression. To make it easy for you to adopt a consistent daily exercise routine, pick an activity that you enjoy, be it sports or hiking. As long as you are moving your body, you are stirring up blood flow and lowering stress levels.
Conclusion to Naturally Improving Your Mental Health
These are some of the best natural ways to work on your mental health on a daily basis. What makes these habits incredibly effective is their simplicity. You can easily integrate them into your daily routine without feeling overwhelmed. Consistency is key when it comes to introducing any new mental or physical habits, and the aforementioned habits are easy and simple enough to perform every day.