All right then, now that you’re ready to start your journey, I’m going to highly recommend that you try these simple steps to improve your mental health. I can give you all the tools in the world, but if you aren’t leading a healthy lifestyle then nothing is going to come of this process. Starting your Elttila program with these seven steps are a great beginning to achieving positive mental health. These steps are a large part of combating depression, stress, anxiety, ADHD, and many other emotional or mental symptoms.
Sleep – This is one of the largest contributing factors to mental health disorders. Even if sleep isn’t directly causing your poor mood, it’s a powerful tool to help ensure you feel your best.
Eating Right – Eating the right foods and at the right times can have an impact on the way you feel. Try to replace sugary snacks and beverages with whole grains and proteins (i.e. white meats and lean meats). Also, caffeine should be avoided if at all possible, especially after 4pm as caffeine inhibits the ability to get into a truly deep sleep. Finally, it’s important to eat breakfast to get your metabolism going in the morning. It’s best to try to eat or drink something within one hour of waking up.
Exercise - Exercise is one of the healthiest things we can do for our minds! In fact, using an exercise routine to help combat mild depression has been approved by the American Psychological Association. The exercise should be every day, if possible, for at least 20-30 minutes. If you feel that this is unreasonable for your lifestyle, start with any amount of exercise that you can fit in and try to build up from there. Even twenty minutes of walking, every day for a week, has drastic impact on the chemicals in your brain.
Practice Responsible Selfishness – Practice being selfish in a responsible way. While selfishness is often looked at as a negative concept; selfish behavior can be a positive thing. Taking time away from all of your other responsibilities to focus your attention on nothing but yourself is a very important practice of healthy people. This means setting aside time every day to do what helps you to feel the most relaxed and stress free.
Relaxation and Breathing – Learn to deep breathe and practice it for 15 minutes every day. Relaxation exercises that include deep breathing give your brain a chance to reset itself and clear out the junk file. Similar to a computer that has never been reset, your mind will not be able to function at its top speed without a chance to stop and reboot at least once a day.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Probiotics – Make sure that you’re staying up to date on blood work and checking on hormone levels, thyroid deficiencies, vitamin B, and vitamin D. High or low levels of these elements can dramatically affect mood. It might be a wise decision to start adding a multivitamin and a vitamin D supplement to your current routine. Probiotics are also important in regulating the chemicals in your body. Any pharmacy generally carries a probiotic that you could add to your routine as well. If you have further questions about these products, consult your physician.
See Your Physician – It’s important to regularly see your doctor! At your visits, it’s critical that you’re sharing with your doctor not just your physical symptoms, but how your mood has been also. Sometimes, poor mood can be an indicator of a greater underlying issue.
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.