OCTOBER is Mental Health Month – let’s talk about the 5 ways to well-being
The term ‘mental health’ means more than the absence of mental illness. In it’s broad sense it refers to how well we are doing emotionally, physically and socially; and just like our physical health we can expect variations in our mental health throughout life.
Physical health can be impacted by our overall fitness, illnesses (past or present) and injuries. Similarly our mental well-being can be affected by a whole lot of factors like: general life experiences, where we live, our social connections, and what we do to look after our mental health.
For some people, good mental well-being comes easily and they don’t have to do much to stay on top of things. For others, this is not the case and reaching a good state of mental well-being can take effort and a lot of support. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, so it’s good to have some tools handy to help to improve our mental health.
- be active
- keep learning
- be aware
- help others
Develop and maintain close relationships; socialise with friends and family while broadening your social networks to include other people in the wider community.
Exercise creates chemical changes in your brain that help to improve mood (even things as simple as walking can make a difference). Being active also helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress, while assisting you to maintain a healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, improve sleep, grow new connections between brain cells and increase blood flow.
Evidence shows us that learning new things is associated with higher levels of emotional and physiological well-being.
Take notice of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings. Next time you go for a walk try taking notice the smells, what you can see and hear…. Keep your focus on the here and now
It’s not just a good thing to do … it will actually make you feel better and improve your overall mental well-being.
Are you wondering how you compare to others on the well-being scale ? Take this quick Quiz
But what else can you do to stay on track and lift your mood ?
One really simple tip is to eat a healthy and nutritious diet; one that is rich in whole foods and low on processed foods. Research indicates that a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, whole grains, bread, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil, can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of depression.
- Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
- Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
- Moderate portions of dairy products
- Limited intake of red meat
Avoid (or only very occasionally eat) sugar sweetened drinks, processed meats, refined grains, refined oils, added sugars and other highly processed foods.