With 2018 drawing to a close and 2019 just 2 days away I thought I would take the opportunity to give 10 simple tips to help you live your best life this coming year.
Here are 10 simple things you could be doing to improve your mental wellbeing.
1. Accept yourself for who you are RIGHT NOW. Yes that includes all of the things you wish were different. Start with a healthy self acceptance and you can move forward toward the best version of YOU not a copy of someone else. You are unique. BE YOU.
2. Drink 1-2 litres of water a day. Water flushes toxins from our brain and body, aides our circulation and improves fitness. Dehydration impairs mental functioning and cognition and can impair short term memory (1,2,3). Simple science tells us that water releases endorphins to the brain. Keeping regularly hydrated with sufficient water levels keeps your body and its internal organs working at full capacity, and a well hydrated brain can help keep anxiety at bay and depression in check.
Studies in young men, show that fluid loss of 1.59% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.Bottom line, drinking water is good for your mental and physical health.
3. Eat Real Food. Anxiety and depression is strongly linked to gut health (4). There is a strong gut brain connection when it comes to our mental health - the old adage "you are what you eat" can be applied here. Eating clean healthy food helps your body function at its best and recent studies have found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among participants, which was sustained six months after the intervention (5). Make the decision to include more leafy greens in your diet today.
4. Walk 30 minutes a day. Just a 30 minute walk a day, or one lap around the block at lunch time, can help improve your mental wellbeing as well as as your physical. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin to improve your mood, pumps more blood to the brain which improves mental clarity It also increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease (6). So do yourself a favour and take that walk.
5. Challenge negative thoughts. We all think negatively from time to time, but long term, persistent negative thoughts will have detrimental effects on your overall mental health and negatively impact how you function in day-to-day life. Persistent negative thoughts can drain your energy, leaving you fatigued and in a fight-or-flight response. The way you think is significant and has huge impact on your physical and mental health. Thoughts are not facts, they are information. We can shift our perspective by challenging negative thoughts and asking "is this helpful?", we can bring new perspective and practise thinking more helpful thoughts. If you need help in this area, CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy can help you change your thoughts. Or book in an appointment with Enhance Wellbeing Counselling Geelong to talk more.
6. Begin a Gratitude Journal. What we focus on becomes the major theme in our lives. What we focus on gets bigger. When we practise gratitude and notice even small things such as the smile of a stranger, our mental wellbeing improves. DHEA is released in response to gratitude and DHEA counteracts the negative effects of cortisol, the stress hormone (7). Practise grattitude today.
7. Surround yourself with supportive, positive people. We become like the company we keep. Positive people and positive attitudes are contagious If you surround yourself with people who are uplifting, nurturing, happy, inspiring, and empowering your mental health will be improved. Limit the time you spend with negative people and have good boundaries when it comes to toxic relationships.
8. Focus on what you can control. “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free. I can control my reactions to situations, what I focus on, what I do with my time and who I spend my time with. I cannot control what others think, or say or do. It is time to stop worrying about what we cannot control and get on with living our own best life today.
9. Find something you love to do and do it. Finding a hobby is important as it gives us an outlet, a focus, it builds skill and it can help us live mindfully (focussing on the right here right now of life). Have you always wanted to learn how to run? To paint? To build with wood? To use clay? To cook? To create a garden? Find something you love doing and start today.
10. Give back. Giving back, helping, serving others (ie in a soup kitchen) has all kinds of positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Giving back builds community and adds meaning to life. There are endless ways of contributing to your community and giving back doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, a large donation, or a big show of gratitude. In fact, it is often the small things that can make the biggest difference. How can you give back and gain meaningful experience? Whether it is the SES, or your local park run, just about every organisation is always looking for volunteers. What skills do you have that could add meaning to your life and the lives of others in your community.
Make 2019 your Best Year Yet. And if you or a friend need help getting back on track, contact us today.
Take care and Live Your Best Life Today.
5. Parletta, N., Zarnowiecki, D., Cho, J., Wilson, A., Bogomolova, S., Villani, A., Itsiopoulos, C., Niyonsenga, T., Blunden, S., Meyer, B., Segal, L., Baune, B. and O’Dea, K. (2017). A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression: A randomized controlled trial (HELFIMED). Nutritional Neuroscience, pp.1-14.