The start of a new year is the perfect time to rethink the habits that weigh you down and develop new practices to improve your overall well-being. Start by focusing on your mental health, and consider these tips for cultivating a healthy mind.
1. Nourish Your Body
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain. Eating foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from free radicals produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells. Additionally, 95% of serotonin, which regulates sleep, appetite and moods, is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. This means that a healthy gut equals a happier you. Pay attention to how eating different foods makes you feel and incorporate a probiotic supplement into your daily routine.
2. Be in the Moment
Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we are doing. Practicing mindfulness can help decrease stress and sadness, and increase levels of focus and happiness, according to general mindfulness research. By becoming fully aware of our thoughts and emotions, we have a better chance of reacting calmly and empathetically when faced with challenges. Focus your attention on your breath — specifically the rise and fall of the chest — and return to the breath whenever you get distracted or notice your mind starting to wander.
3. Treat Yo-Self
Treating yourself to a manicure, new pair of shoes or facial isn’t just about provoking a little hit of dopamine in your neurochemistry; it’s also part of a practice called "self-compassion.” Self-compassion, the concept of being kind to yourself, has been gaining more and more ground in the psychology community as a good way to think about self-care and good mental health practices. Building a better, kinder relationship with yourself can improve your ability to pursue success. So basically, expressing love to yourself via small gifts = success.
4. Practice Gratitude
Research suggests that there are both mental and physical benefits associated with practicing gratitude. It is easy to get distracted by all of the things going on in the world around us; instead, we need to focus more on the positive. Allow yourself to be thankful for even the smallest of things that give you joy. A simple way to practice gratitude is by taking a few minutes at the end of each day to think of three things that you are grateful for. Bonus: Keep a gratitude journal to record that which you’re grateful for!
5. Physical Activity
Engaging in a physical activity for 30 minutes or more a day for three to five days per week may significantly improve your mental health. Regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins that can enhance your sense of well-being. Identify something you enjoy doing and set reasonable goals. If you don’t like to run, then don’t sign up for a marathon. Go for a bike ride, walk your dog, jump in a pool or even have a dance party in your living room. Do whatever you enjoy!
Senior Events Coordinator
GWG Holdings, Inc.