While we spend a lot of time scrutinizing how our body looks, the kinds of exercise we do, and what we are going to eat, being healthy means we must also prioritize our mental health. Without a healthy mindset, reaching any goal becomes 10 times harder. We can lift weights and eat in a caloric deficit every day and still gain weight due to the role stress plays on our body. This stress can lead to the body feeling panicked and holding onto food. We also find ourselves craving more food at times of stress, and have less energy to approach our workouts. All of this plays a big part in our progress.
This article from The New York Times discusses the role that mental health plays in the physical health of the body. Whether someone is suffering from a bipolar disorder or generalized anxiety, they are more likely to develop issues with nutrition, are less active, and are often misdiagnosed in other health issues. I myself experienced this in my 20’s. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in my teens, but spent a lot of time combatting that over the next 10 years. In my early 20’s when I fractured my spine and had finished going through physical therapy, I was still feeling immense pain and my doctors just referred me back to a psychiatrist who put me back on anxiety/depression medication. After that and a year of appointments with a psychologist, I was still in the same amount of pain. I was told by many doctors that this was just how my life was going to be from now on. Life got bad for many years and I struggled with all aspects of my life. Finally in 2018 I found a doctor who believed my pain was not just in my head, I had surgery and I got to start my life over again.
It’s so important to advocate for yourself and prioritize your mental health. Please consult a doctor if you find you are struggling. Read below for some tips on making your day-to-day life less stressful and finding balance.
Lack of sleep contributes to so many issues within the body. It can cause headaches, issues with proper body functions, and generally more anxiety. When the body is not rested it can’t provide you with the best chance of working through life’s many issues. You’ll also notice that you are craving more sugar, sodium and processed foods. The hormone function in the body is often impacted by lack of sleep and can lead to excess cravings of those “junk foods” to give temporary spikes in energy and blood sugar to help you function. This will lead to a crash and often a feeling of even more anxiety after.
2) Proper nutrition and hydration
To discuss the role of nutrition more, it’s essential to eat a balanced diet of protein, fats and carbs. Diets that are higher in processed foods often lead to high spikes in blood sugar, that leads to a quick fall and fatigue. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to make sure you feel full and energized throughout the day and that you are supporting your body's functions. Also having a varied diet can help ensure you get all the nutrients and vitamins you need. I have lots of other articles on balancing nutrition if you'd like to read them!
3) Taking down time and establishing boundaries!
Beyond sleeping, you need time to process your life, decompress, and enjoy yourself! We often get into this place where we think we constantly have to be on the go and accomplishing things. We convince ourselves that stopping and doing nothing for a while is bad. Taking time to just stop is actually good for you. It’s ok to just watch tv and turn off your phone. If it’s after hours, you don’t have to respond to emails! Work and personal life should have boundaries! You don’t always have to be on call for work or for anything. Know when you need to exist on your own!
4) Find relaxing activities
If relaxing is difficult for you, find activities that calm your brain and body. Some people are tactile and like to work with their hands. They could find sculpting, making art, knitting, etc. to be relaxing. Some people like calming sounds, meditation, or walks. Try new things and see if they help bring you peace. A lot of people like yoga or journaling to relax their mind.
5) Seek professional help
And this one is probably the most important! Look for help if you are finding yourself to be in a bad place. Talk to your doctor, look for free clinics, and there are so many free resources online. It’s not a battle you have to fight alone. Also, you should never feel ashamed that you need help. We all need help and we should all feel ok leaning on others! So get the help you need and know you are worth living a happy life.
Love to all! Until next time… and remember mental health is for all!