5 Healthy Habits That Help Mental Health

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KP Graphic Feb 2017

Let’s Talk by Steph Beth Nickel

Many men and women, boys and girls struggle with anything from mild anxiety to severe depression. Last month’s hashtag discussion reminded me of some important reasons to get—and stay—active.

1. The Importance of Physical Activity

When you’re in a funk—or downright depressed—one of the last things you want to do is get moving. However, when you do, your body manufactures “feel good” hormones. They won’t change your circumstances or chase away the negativity indefinitely, but they just may help you cope a little better.

You may want to start slowly, say with a walk around the neighbourhood. But even this can make a difference.

2. The Importance of Healthy Eating

Who wants to cook when they’re feeling blah? (Some of us don’t spend much time in the kitchen at the best of times.)

This is all the more reason to prepare healthy meals when you have the ambition and opportunity to do so. If these meals, plus healthy snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables, are readily available, it will make the temptation to order in or pop a frozen pizza in the oven less appealing.

Caring for our physical health will support our mental health as well.

3. The Importance of Consistent Sleep Patterns

Although it has been years since I could say I was genuinely depressed, I do know what it’s like to be tempted to stay in bed longer than I really need to.

Many experts say that consistency is the most important thing when it comes to our sleep patterns. They recommend going to bed and rising at the same time seven days a week.

Too little sleep leaves us weary and more vulnerable to emotional highs and lows. Too much sleep often compounds our challenges, adding a sense of defeat and quilt on top of everything else. But adequate sleep can rejuvenate both physically and emotionally.

4. The Importance of Emotional Support

As Bell’s “Let’s Talk” campaign stresses, it’s important to know you’re not alone. This is true no matter what challenge one is facing.

My mom dealt with depression for years. Back in 70s and before then, there was very little support—even from medical professionals. And although society still has a long way to go, in many ways, I believe we’re moving in the right direction.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, etc., I encourage you to pursue the help you need.

If you know someone dealing with mental health issues (and most of us do), learn how to best offer support. Ask questions. And really listen to the answers.

5. The Importance of Faith

As a Christian, I know how important faith is. It is not a guarantee against anxiety and depression. However, having a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, assures us that we’re never alone, that there is Someone who will always understand us—even better than we understand ourselves, and that we are loved—no matter how we feel.

Let’s keep talking.

This information is for education and encouragement purposes only. Please consult a healthcare professional before you begin an exercise program and/or make changes to your diet and sleep patterns. In addition, I encourage you to consult a professional for support and advice if you are dealing with any form of mental illness.

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Stephanie Nickel

 

Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

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