Many people are saying their minds need a break right about now. That they need to shore up their peace-of-mind. We get it because our Vision of a Total Healing Environment values the relationship between body, mind and spirit.
National statistics continue to reflect mounting mental health concerns stemming from the current state of things. We know the mind impacts the body and vice versa. Not everyone is suffering. But for those who are, we want to encourage you with a few simple things we can do for ourselves. These things are nothing new, but when put into practice, can actually influence our state-of-mind.
And no, it doesn’t make us weak or crazy to admit we’re a little bit anxious or depressed these days. It means we’re human.
Don’t stop. Won’t stop.
Set a routine. This is so incredibly important and so incredibly easy to overlook. Routines may seem tedious, but they are actually restorative. Predictable activity gives our brains a break and relaxes our vigilant nervous systems. Our minds stop spinning when we switch to autopilot. The most common routines center around sleeping and eating. Consistent sleep promotes our sense of wellbeing by honoring our body’s internal biologic clock which helps synchronize our behavior.
Stay connected. While we are encouraged to continue physical distancing, we have to find a way to keep connecting with each other. The breakdown in social contact is hard on almost everyone, especially those most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. This is so important right now a national organization was created to help. The Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness has compiled information on the physical, behavioral, and mental health effects of physical distancing and how to stay connected in the midst of it.
Feed the brain well. Nutrients in certain foods reduce anxiety and spur the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which help the mind cope with uncertainty. Nutritious foods also reduce stress in the brain, which in turn boosts the immune system in the body. No doubt about it, a nutritious, common-sense approach to food benefits us in multiple ways.
Keep moving. We are meant to move and many of our body’s systems work better when we do—including our minds. Research from the Harvard Medical School affirms that physical activity lowers the risk of depression. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins. These chemicals interact with brain receptors to trigger positive feelings in the mind and body.
Give to others. When we help people it helps us more, it really does. Research bears it out, showing those who help others experience less depression and are generally more calm. Giving can also provide mental stimulation and a sense of purpose. It doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or huge amounts of time. Giving in even simple ways can improve our health and happiness. Especially when we find ways of giving that utilize our natural gifts.
Create something, anything. The arts are known to promote well-being. Recent advances in biological, cognitive and neurological science show a direct link between the arts and the brain. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know it is rewarding to create something—in the garden, the workshop, the kitchen, the sewing room—even playing Legos with the kids.
For our mind’s sake, we need to keep moving in these ways and more.