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Tend to Your Mental Health: Diet and Relaxation Tips to Prevent Mental Illness

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical wellness. If you don’t tend to your well-being, you may start to develop some of the warning signs of mental illness. You may notice dramatic changes in your sleep patterns or appetite. Many people have a hard time functioning socially and withdraw into themselves. Problem-solving and performing familiar tasks end in exhaustion. People suffering from mental illness may feel disconnected from their surroundings and apathetic about things they previously cared about. Symptoms may also include nervousness, fear, paranoia, recklessness, and uncharacteristic behaviors.

Fortunately, you can prevent warning signs of mental illness from developing into a full-blown problem with a little self-care. Self-care isn’t just easy to do, it can seriously be enjoyable. These simple practices will show you just how easy it is to tend to your mental health.

Diet and Mental Health

Many Americans have problems when it comes to food. For years, we were taught that “healthy” was the latest fad diets. Millions of people would give up bread or slurp down disgusting chalky shakes in the name of health. However, diets aren’t just unpleasant, they also don’t work. People eventually gain back any of the weight they lose, and meanwhile, they are depriving their bodies and minds of essential nutrients.

Your brain needs a varied diet to function properly. Cutting out certain foods can lead to mental illness symptoms including anxiety, exhaustion, and agitation. That’s why it’s so important to ignore fad diets and instead focus on curating a diet full of whole, fresh foods. It’s also best to avoid cheap convenience foods that are full of salts, saturated fats, and sugars. If you’re not exactly a celebrity chef in the kitchen but you want to learn how to make healthy meals at home, look into a fresh food delivery service. These services mail fresh ingredients, perfectly portioned and prepared, along with step-by-step instructions on how to make the meal yourself. You learn more about basic cooking skills while getting used to a diet of fresh foods — so easy!

Relaxation and Mental Health

Taking time to relax is essential for your mental health. However, in today’s hustle-and-bustle society, we often feel pressured to work hard and play hard, but we hardly take a moment to sit still. However, relaxation is important. Without it, you risk experiencing burnout. Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, cynicism, apathy, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Your mind needs time to unwind and reset itself. Even if you take out the possibility of experiencing burnout, it’s still a smart idea to relax. Taking breaks makes you more productive, more creative, and happier overall. What’s more, it can even help you lose weight.

If you feel your muscles becoming tense, get up and walk around for a bit. If you can, go outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Try some breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). If you have time, exercise to release stress with the help of feel-good endorphins. Or, you can try a relaxing activity like yoga (a drop-in yoga class usually costs $12 – $16), meditation, or tai chi. Sometimes, you need to relax mentally and emotionally as well as physically. If you need to ease the tension in your mind, start with some positive affirmations. Work toward being more mindful and optimistic by reframing your thoughts and identifying your cognitive distortions. It helps to have a healthy distraction — try reading, doing a puzzle, or writing in a journal to get out of your head.

Controlling external factors, like your environment, can also help you manage stress and reduce anxiety. At home, aim to eliminate clutter, a common problem for busy people that contributes to a feeling of near-constant overwhelm. Getting rid of stacks of paper, cleaning out your closet, and organizing your cabinets are all good places to start. When you’re done organizing, give your home a thorough cleaning. In this case, you’re better off delegating this task to a maid service. In Pasadena, you can expect to pay between $114 and $227 for a cleaning.

But you shouldn’t just clear your countertops, you should also clear the air. Scientists have already confirmed that clean air makes you happier. The thing is, indoor air can be full of dust, dander, and other irritants, especially if you have pets. You can remedy this problem by investing in an air purifier (can be purchased for under $80) and changing your air filters regularly. 

Neglecting your mental health can lead to serious symptoms that impair your ability to enjoy the things you love in life. Rather than getting to that point, embrace how wonderful self-care for your mental health can be. Instead of dieting, embrace a variety of whole foods that feed your brain and body. Taking time to relax isn’t lazy — it’s necessary. Relaxing prevents burnout while making you more productive and creative in the long term.

By: Brad Krause

I would like to thank Brad Krause for his submission. To find out more information about Brad, please follow the links below.

brad@selfcaring.info

selfcaring.info/

The DANGERS of Sitting Too Long

Sitting for too long can lead to chronic health problems. If you have a desk job or are a transit driver, you may find yourself sitting in either 5, 6, or even 8 hour stretches. Scientists have found that those who sit a lot were twice as likely to get heart disease. When you sit, major muscles relax. When your muscles are inactive they take little glucose from blood-which raising the changes of developing type 2 diabetes.

Weight gain is a result of sitting too long. Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars that you eat. If you sit for hours at a time, digestion is not efficient.

Prolonged sitting also increases your risk of dementia, stroke, and high blood pressure. The infograph below shows 7 dangers of prolonged sitting.

Scary, isn’t it? So what can you do to stay more active during your day?

Tips To Keep you Healthy at Work:

  1. Use a timer– For every 50 minutes that you spend sitting, take take 10 minutes off. This is done to break up long periods of sitting. You may stand, take a walk, or stretch.
  2. Drink more water– This will increase the number of bathroom breaks which will get you up and out of your chair more often.
  3. Mobile phone calls- Either stand or take your calls while walking.
  4. Lunch time walk– You will have more energy !
  5. Sit on a stability ball– This will constantly engage your core muscles to keep from falling off the ball.

In conclusion, sitting too much is hazardous to your health! Lifestyle changes aren’t easy though. If you would like step by step guidance on how to create and sustain lasting lifestyle changes in your life, sign up for my Habit Transformation Program.

30 Day Mindset Challenge

There are many different methods to weight loss, that beginning your fitness journey can be overwhelming. Each weight loss strategy has its pros and cons, but for any one to really work, you’ve got to get your mind primed for weight loss.

Many people try to lose weight with the mindset that they have to “fix themselves” which is one of the worst states of mind possible. Jumping into diet and exercise programs out of self-deprecation is a recipe for failure.

How many times have you said things like: “I’ll always be fat” ,“I will never lose weight” , “I’ve tried EVERYTHING and nothing ever works” or even felt “unworthy of the time and energy it would take to commit to a wellness program? This negative mindset can ultimately lead to failure. Your words become your reality. I repeat, YOUR WORDS BECOME YOUR REALITY.

Instead of being obsessed with results and focusing on quick fixes-focus on creating a sustainable lifestyle, better health, and a longer life.

For the next 30 days, I challenge you to train your brain for success. Each day you will repeat these two empowering messages that will help you to speak victory and success into your life. These positive statements will help you to overcome those self sabotaging, negative thoughts.

  1. I am always taking action towards my health and fitness goals.
  2. I am going to eat more of the things that make me feel healthy.

When you repeat these positive statements often, BELIEVE in them, WHILE TAKING ACTION DAILY- you can start to make positive changes.

For example, ways you can take action towards your health and fitness goals is to walk to a destination instead of drive. If that is not an option- park a little further from your destination so you can get some additional steps.

If you know eating the cake and ice cream will make you feel guilty later-DON’T EAT IT. Besides- you are going to eat MORE of the things that make YOU feel healthy–NOT GUILTY.

So who is ready for the 30 Day Mindset Challenge? Comment below if you are in.

Here are a few more positive statements you can add to your tool box:

What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

A good pre workout meal can help your body perform better and recover faster after each workout.

When you fuel your body properly prior to exercise, it will not only help you maximize your performance, but also minimize the damage to your muscles.

Ideally, aim to have a balance meal about 2 – 3 hours before your workout. The timing here depends on the individual. If you digest your food slowly, eating too soon before a workout may make you feel nauseous. One you figure out what time works for you, here is what your meal should include

Carbs

Carbs are the muscles best source of energy. Include carbs that are easily digestible as well as carbs that will leave you with lasting energy that will push you throughout the duration of the workout.

Protein

Eating protein prior to exercise has been shown to increase a better anabolic response, or muscle growth, improve muscle recovery, increase strength and lean body mass.

Here are a few examples of pre workout meals

  1. Blueberries and Greek yogurt
  2. Brown rice, white rice, and grilled chicken
  3. Old fashion oats, bananas, and milk

If you only have an hour or less before your workout, focus on getting in those quick digesting carbs. If you are real short on time, sports gels and sport nutrition bars will also do. You need to focus on getting that quick energy to fuel your workout.

Nutrition Hacks- Part 2

Diets don’t work. Restrictive meal plans deprive people of foods they enjoy-which is one reason that they fail. If you or a loved one have been on a constant cycle of weight loss and gain–you know exactly what I mean.

The following are some tips to help you improve your nutrient intake without completely giving up your favorite foods.

Avoid drinking your calories

Unlike the feeling of satiety that you can get from the food, beverages do not keep you feeling full. On top of that, studies have found a strong link between body weight and sugary drinks such as sodas, milkshakes, and frappuccinos. Even seemingly healthy drinks like smoothies and juices can be loaded with sugar so be mindful and read labels before choosing your beverage.

Keep your favorite foods- but add more vegetables and fruits.

Fruits and vegetables have a high fiber content which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Vegetables are low in calories and help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Sometimes prepping your vegetables can be time consuming, so spending a little bit more money for pre-chopped produce might be the way to go.

Another way to get in your fruit and vegetables is to include them into the foods that you already eat. Try adding vegetables to your eggs or adding fruit to your oatmeal.