By Theresa Harding
Mental health awareness is an important topic to be discussed this month. I’m going to share with you 5 natural ways to improve your mental health with self-care because some might think the only solution is drugs or medication.
According to an article in “The State of Mental Health in America”, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined!
Also, 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. Rates of youth with severe depression increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. Even with severe depression, 76% of youth are left with no or insufficient treatment. But depression and anxiety are more closely related than you’d suspect, and many people live with both conditions.
Being mentally healthy means that one is psychological, socially and emotionally stable. The following are natural ways through which you can improve your mental health in order to experience positive mental health results.
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Mental health and anxiety are relative, as a borderline personality disorder is an illness that is associated with mood swings, change in behavior, and how one perceives themselves. It is a serious condition that has on many occasions been connected to suicides and depression. Appropriate ways to improve your mental health with this condition is through the management of factors like anxiety, which is a major symptom. Essential oils are a natural way to safely give you relief.
Essential oils, in particular, chamomile and lavender have been found to ease anxiety and depression in an individual. To experience positive mental health, these are administered through an application on the skin, around the chest area or palms.
Clary Sage demonstrates mood-enhancing activity even when the mood is altered due to hormonal changes associated with menopause. Clary sage essential oil influences brain chemistry to help restore more normal levels of key brain chemicals responsible for thyroid function and depression.
Depression is a mental condition that affects an individual’s feelings, how they conduct themselves and how they think. Vitamin D and Mental Health should not be ignored. It affects the mind of the ailing individual in that one can get suicidal or feel worthless. Depression can be long-term or short-term depending on the cause or stage of the condition.
Sunlight has been found to be a natural way of managing depression. This is because we are able to produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun for a period of time. Darkness has been linked to depression in that lack of light to has resulted in the death of brain cells.
These cells are located in the regions which are responsible for triggering emotions like happiness. When your skin is exposed to the sun, your body can then produce vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin.
Studies have shown there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Researchers behind a 2013 meta-analysis noticed those study participants with depression also had low vitamin D levels. They also found that, statistically, people with low vitamin D were at a much greater risk of depression.
I like to have my vitamin D levels checked annually so I know where I’m at before I decide to take therapeutic levels of vitamin D. You can have your levels tested to see if you’re deficient. If you find that you are deficient, you can supplement to bring up your levels.
You may consider health care as a form of self-care, as it is important to take time for yourself and ensure you are healthy. If you’re not healthy, how can we take care of someone else?
It is therefore important to safely get in the sun for at least 30-35 minutes to absorb enough sunshine to produce vitamin D. If you’re of lighter skin tone, you may need less time in the sun to avoid sunburn, to improve your mental health.
People of color, like myself are found to have lower vitamin D levels. This is because we’re not exposing our skin to the sunlight long enough. Therefore, we don’t absorb and manufacture the vitamin D needed to keep our levels optimum.
With deficient vitamin D levels, our mental health is also affected, as well as our immune function. Allowing vitamin D levels to drop below 30ng/ml means you become deficient.
This also means and there is a risk for autoimmune conditions, body aches and pains, and other health problems such as rickets. That’s why it’s important to get tested for vitamin D to know for sure if you’re deficient.
Especially if you keep getting sick or your health is spiraling downhill. You can speak with your doctor about getting tested. If you find that you need to supplement in the winter due to the lack of sunlight exposure, here is my favorite vitamin D liquid.
You don’t need sunscreen during this time if you want to expose your skin to the sunlight to produce vitamin D. You can learn more about vitamin D testing in an article written by Dr. Mercola at mercola.com where he explains more in-depth about the many benefits of sunlight.
Psychological trauma is associated with extreme stress from a certain event leading to an individual being unable to put up with previous memories of the occurrence. Experiences related to war, accidents or even torture are most likely to contribute to Trauma. Natural means to manage this condition include engaging in meditation and yoga.
These practices have been found to have a positive impact on controlling trauma. In addition, individuals undergoing trauma due to certain experiences have been exposed to the same events, to help them counter that fear and it has been found to be effective.
Akathisia is an illness which involves an individual being restless and unable to sit still. It can surface as a result of the side effects of certain drugs. Its major symptoms include depression, nausea, and nervousness among others. To improve your mental health with this condition, you’d have to address those symptoms.
Nausea can be managed naturally by the use of vitamin B6 supplements which have impacted on neurotransmission. Also, increase your intake of foods rich in magnesium, iron and vitamin D to manage depression and anxiety, and engage in stress management activities, like exercises. Following these tips above can assist you in advancing towards a road to positive mental health.
A study in the US National Library of Medicine explains that: “In magnesium deficiency, neuronal requirements for magnesium may not be met, causing neuronal damage which could manifest as depression. Magnesium treatment is hypothesized to be effective in treating major depression resulting from intraneuronal magnesium deficits.”
Caring for your mental health begins with personal awareness. Many factors can impact your mental health. One of the most common of these factors is stress. While stress is part of life and can help with productivity and accomplishment, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to increased symptoms and lack of self-care.
Some symptoms associated with stress include:
Taking some “me-time” or practicing self-care may help to increase your coping skills, your energy levels, your sense of well-being, and your ability to create balance, which is a crucial component of self-care.
A lifestyle change is necessary when you need to address the areas of your life that contribute to your increased levels of stress. This includes:
One great read that helped me resolve the negative feelings I had experienced during my childhood is “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die” by Carol Truman. This book really took me back to my past where I thought I’d forgotten the negative feelings I had towards my own Mother, but after resolving those feelings, a 10-year health problem I’d had struggled with, suddenly went away.
I was flabbergasted by that because I was quite skeptical and didn’t believe those feelings could ever be resolved, but after learning how they were connected to my health, I took the steps outlined in the book to resolve those feelings and the health challenge disappeared. Amazing! I’ve since recommended that book to everyone I know because of my own positive, personal experience with it.
Mental health and self-care go hand-in-hand. If you take the time to spend quality time with yourself by minding your needs, your mental stability will improve. Spending time helping others while neglecting your own needs is a dangerous act to pose on yourself. Love yourself so that you will be mentally healthy enough to love others.
Costa, J., Marôco, J., Pinto‐Gouveia, J., Ferreira, C., & Castilho, P. (2016). Validation of the psychometric properties of the Self‐Compassion Scale. Testing the factorial validity and factorial invariance of the measure among borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorder and general populations. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 23(5), 460-468.
Hoenders, H. R., Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., Vollbehr, N. K., Bruggeman, R., Knegtering, H., & de Jong, J. T. (2018). Natural Medicines for Psychotic Disorders: A Systematic Review. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 206(2), 81.
Mischoulon, D. (2016). 10 Natural Remedies for Treatment of Depression. Depression: Treatment Strategies and Management, 6, 186.
Semiatin, J. N., Torres, S., LaMotte, A. D., Portnoy, G. A., & Murphy, C. M. (2017). Trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, and presenting clinical problems among male perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Psychology of violence, 7(1), 91.
A healthy diet is one key component that can affect the state of our mind. We must nourish our mind by eating nutrient-dense foods daily. If you need to improve your current diet from a nutrient deficient one to a nutrient dense one, I have a free Diet Makeover course that teaches you step-by-step how to do this. This is what I did to change the health of my family and I know it will help you too. Click below to get started.
Healthy Living isn't difficult. It requires an ongoing lifestyle change with patience and an open mind. I teach this mindset all the time. After 14 years of transitioning from an unhealthy lifestyle to a pain-free one, I think it's important to share my knowledge and research with those who are ready to make that shift in their health and wellness.