2078 Teron Trace #326, Dacula, GA 30019 | (678) 205-0838

The Basics of Mental and Emotional Health

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Mental health or the maintenance of your mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important as the maintenance of your physical health. Research supports the inter-connection between physical health and mental health.  When the body feels good so does the mind. Therefore to maintain good physical health is to maintain good mental health.  It is also just as simple and easy.  To maintain mental and emotional health, exercise, get adequate sleep, consume a healthy diet, and sustain a balance between work and play, all also components of physical health as well.

 Research suggests that exercise helps decrease stress, anxiety and depression, as well as manage symptoms of ADHD. Exercise helps by improving the mood, relieving stress, improving memory,   enhancing sleep, and increasing overall wellbeing by releasing the body’s own feel good hormones (endorphins). Exercises like yoga and tai chi work by clearing the mind and giving it a break from work, while aerobics and more vigorous exercises allow you to focus on the activity and the movements involved.  Regular exercise helps sleep occur faster, causes more time in deep sleep, and decreases wakening during the night.  Exercising a minimum of five times a week for at least 30 minutes is beneficial to maintaining mental health.

 Adequate sleep can help with moods and regulate hormone levels, improve memory and concentration, improve creativity, and decrease stress.  Too little sleep can result in irritability and fatigue. Too much sleep can result in depression and sluggishness.  Most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but because of individual differences some individuals require as little as 6 while others need as much as 10. Teenagers generally need an average of 8 to 9 hours per night. 

To improve sleep avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, coke, tea), alcohol, nicotine or spicy food several hours before bedtime; avoid mental stimulation including videogames and electronic devices an hour prior to bedtime; have a regular bedtime routine (go to bed the same time every night, wake the same time every day, take a relaxing bath or shower before bed), sleep only at night, avoid day time naps, and exercise regularly. Also make sure bed is for sleeping, and the bedroom is a relaxing distraction free zone. If you cannot sleep after 30 minutes, get up and do something else. Return to bed after 20 to 30 minutes, and try to sleep again. Repeat this cycle as needed until sleep occurs.

Healthy foods like vegetables, lean meats and protein, improve moods and provide the necessary energy to manage the day. Vitamins also enhance the functioning of the brain and the nervous system, promote relaxation, improve the mood, and decrease fatigue. Research has indicated that processed meats, packaged food, preservatives, and sugary foods are linked to depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and bipolar disorder.  Small dietary changes can make a big difference to your physical and mental health, such as adding a salad to your diet daily, substituting fried foods for baked or grilled; replacing sugary snacks with fruits, yogurt or nuts, and decreasing sugary drinks and soda by drinking more water; and add flavor to water by adding fruit or vegetables, such as lemon, orange, cucumber, or a splash of fruit juice. Eating more home prepared meals will allow you to be more aware of what is in your food. Eating breakfast will jump start the metabolism, and eating frequent small meals rather than three large meals will help maintain your energy throughout the day.

A balance between work and play is an important component of mental and physical health. Play is anything that is enjoyable and fun for you, whether hiking in the woods, playing a sport, engaging in a creative endeavor, reading a book or watching a movie. Whatever play is for you, consistent time to engage in it helps decrease stress and anxiety, improves creativity, improves concentration and focus, and improves life satisfaction.  Make time for play by setting goals for what you want to accomplish, managing your time so that you can set boundaries between your work and play, develop a good support system, learn to delegate, and learn to say no to extra tasks or work.  Creating balance is an ongoing process that needs to be monitored on a consistent basis as work, family and life demands frequently change with the transitions of our lives.

Maintaining good mental and physical health is an inter-related process, and requires constant attention. If at some point your ability to manage your life in a way that maintains your mental health, or if your life feels too chaotic or unmanageable, get professional help. Talking to a mental health professional can be helpful with this.

 

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2078 Teron Trace #326 | Phone: 678-205-0838
Dacula, GA 30019 | Fax: 678-318-3405
Contact us at: info@psychologygwinnett.com