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Which 5 Basics are Essential to Your Mental Health

food, water, movement, rest

When clients are going through a difficult time, they often want to work through the stressors.  Of course.  However, I often redirect them to really focusing on the basics to create a stable platform from which to address what is happening.  Creating that stability makes approaching any stressor much more effective.

You might feel like you have little control when you are in the middle of a trying time, however, these 5 basics are things that you can manage and focus on despite your circumstances.  Redirecting your attention on what is in your locus of control, in and of itself, is helpful.  All 5 of these basics have been proven to improve overall well-being.

Let’s take a look at each one.

Food

Eating healthy foods is important.  And, eating regularly is also right up there. This means that you don’t skip meals or continue to eat when you feel full.  Doing either of these can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.  

Your body likes consistency and eating on a regular schedule helps establish that consistent routine that your body desires.  

Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to drop and when your blood sugar is low you may feel tired, irritable or depressed.  Cutting out entire food groups can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health because it will be difficult to get all the essential nutrients that your body needs.  

Food is essential for your body to function properly and when your body is not functioning properly, your mental health can follow.  Focus on identifying healthy foods that feel good in your body and developing a regular eating habits.

Water

Staying hydrated is important for many reasons.  Dehydration can lead to poor concentration, inability to think clearly, depressed mood, tiredness and anxiety.  

Your body is made up of about 60% water and your brain is made up of around 70% water.  Knowing that your body and brain consists of a large amount of water helps you understand how important it is to stay hydrated because we need water to live. 

When you don’t drink enough water your body signals to your brain that there is a problem and this can lead to heightened emotions like anxiety and nervousness.  

Some common signs of dehydration include: changes in your skin, dry mouth, constipation, thirst, depression, sleeplessness, headaches, irritability, increased mental distress.  It’s important to know these signs so that if they are present, you can focus on drinking more water to reestablish a sense of well being. 

Rest

The amount of rest you get plays a role in how you feel both physically and mentally.  If you don’t get enough rest you may start to feel irritable, depressed and/or anxious.  Poor sleep habits can contribute to your ability to handle even minor stressors during the day.  

A lot happens in your brain while you are sleeping, therefore, getting enough sleep facilitates proper brain function.  Sleep problems can be a symptom of mental health disorders, such as depression, however, it’s also possible for lack of sleep to cause depression or other disorders. Therefore, developing a regular bedtime routine and healthy sleep habits are essential.  

Movement

Staying active and moving your body has lots of health benefits.  Regular exercise can reduce stress, improve concentration and help you sleep better at night.  

You do not have to be a certain age or even at a certain fitness level to see the mental health benefits of regular movement. There are a variety of options for exercise and physical activity, therefore, you can choose an activity that you enjoy and do not have to stick to just one mode of exercise.  

People who exercise tend to feel a sense of well-being and increased motivation.  Physical activity is a great coping mechanism during challenging times because endorphins are released that increase a sense of well being.  

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a term you may have heard a lot.  Simply put, mindfulness is being aware of and focusing on the present moment and having an attitude that is open and accepting. 

Mindfulness is a practice that can encourage new perspectives, which is important when dealing with a challenging period in your life.  Mindfulness can help you manage strong emotions by focusing on your breathing, your body and your senses.  Benefits may include reduced fear, anxiety and stress, as well as improved attention, concentration and memory.  

Mindfulness is a technique that may take practice and that’s okay.  Over time, as you establish this as one of the essential basics, you can determine the right amount of mindfulness meditation for you.

Need some resources on how to practice mindfulness?  Try Mindful.org, Mayo Clinic and Positive Psychology. Or try one of these mindfulness apps from this list of 15

These 5 basics are essential to maintaining your mental health when you are experiencing challenges or struggles in your life.  Focusing on taking care of yourself through balanced food consumption, water intake, rest, movement and mindfulness can lead to positive results in your mental and physical well-being.  

Having basic routines and habits to dedicate your time and attention to can be a powerful coping mechanism that can be applied to a variety of circumstances and situations.  Coming back to this baseline is essential and can cut down on spiraling into suffering and, worse, into declining mental health that can require the support of medication or put a strain on how well you are able to function in the important parts of your life. 

Want to add some support to help you maintain a balanced baseline through a challenging moment?  We would love to support you.  Contact us.

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