Raise your hand if you’ve ever:
Most of us could raise our hands multiple times. All of these life challenges can throw our mental health majorly off-kilter.
Sleepless nights. Imbalanced microbiomes. Shorter days. Vitamin D levels. Shortened breath exertions. 24/7 news cycles. Diets. Environmental toxins. Limiting beliefs. Arguments. Lack of movement and exercise. Gratitude levels. Disconnection from self and those around us. And so many others…
I know many folks who’ve noticed a significant dip in their mental health over the past 18 months-myself included- during various points. Several women I’ve talked with express feelings of agitation, exhaustion, and anxiety. Our bodies are tense, our minds are foggy, and our souls feel beaten down. It’s been a rough time in our history, and at the end of the day, I believe everyone is navigating through this in the best way they know how.
How can we reclaim our mental health amid the collective fatigue we’re experiencing? With so much out of our control, it can be easy to overlook the areas where we possess some agency. Below are a few tools and go-to’s I use to boost my mental health.
The simple act of writing each day can drastically improve your mental health by providing you with a safe space to explore your internal landscape. Author and writing coach Allison Fallon’s most recent book-The Power of Writing it Down-explores the healing and inner calm that often follows expressive writing. “The biggest thing that writing does for us is it helps us access another part of our brain that we’re less likely to use daily. The part of our brain used in the writing process is the same part of the brain used in therapy, which partially explains the benefits of writing emotionally,” Fallon stated in an article earlier this year. I can attest to this – journaling is free therapy. For a more in-depth exploration of how to make writing a regular practice, purchase a copy of Fallon’s book.
If the thought of exercise doesn’t exactly thrill you, I get it. “Exercise” conjures a picture of hours spent at the gym or rows of free weights or hard-core, high-intensity workouts. Yet, movement isn’t relegated to sweat, grunts, and sprints on the treadmill. If exercise feels more like a chore, try to focus on “movement” instead. Have a sedentary job that keeps you bound to the chair most of the day? Take standing breaks every 60 minutes, walk around, or do body squats. A few of my favorite forms of movement include walking, playing tag with my kids, a 10-minute HIIT session, stretching, yoga, dance parties, lifting boxes, vacuuming, swimming, rebounding, gardening, and cycling. Just choose to do something. As you move, your body will release stress and stagnant emotion-both of which affect your mental health.
When it comes to elevating your mental well-being, one of the best tips out there is to eat the rainbow…that is, try to fill your plate with as many different colors as you can (and no ma’am, Skittles don’t count).
The bright colors found in fruits and vegetables come from phytonutrients, which carry their own set of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, disease-fighting abilities. When I’m hitting a mental slump, one of the first things I do is assess the quality of foods I’m feeding myself. Our diets play a pivotal role in our mental health, not to mention our energy levels, sleep patterns, hormones, and so much more. Food is one of the best-and foundational-medicines for our mental health.
Our lives are bustling and full, and we exert an enormous amount of mental energy when we constantly stay plugged in. But the steady influx of information, data, and outright noise can wreak havoc on our headspace if we don’t create boundaries. One of the fastest ways I know I’m misaligned or imbalanced (which, for me, means that my mental health is taking a hit) is when I’m spending too much time in front of a screen and not enough time with those around me. Or enough time outdoors. Or enough time with my Creator. Or enough time with myself. The antidote to the disharmonious mental chatter is to unplug and discover the things that revive your soul.
Have you ever felt like a part of you wants to do one thing and another part that wants the direct opposite? I’ve explored many forms of therapy over the years, and Internal Family Systems (IFS) is one of the most effective I’ve found. If you’re unfamiliar with this model, read through the IFS Institue website, where you will find links to numerous resources. In concise language, this healing modality will bring harmony, connection, and self-understanding to all the parts that make you, you. (book a discovery session to learn how my IFS-informed coaching can help you on your journey toward greater wellness).
As a functional medicine health coach, I’d be remiss if I didn’t urge you to have your levels checked by an FM practitioner. An annual exam will undoubtedly give you a baseline look at your blood work and other vitals, but functional medicine will take a deeper look under the hood. Everything from imbalanced hormones, gut dysbiosis, vitamin levels, and so much more on the physiological side impacts our mental health. Working with a certified functional medicine coach (ahem, me!) can also be a proactive way to alter lifestyle behaviors that affect your mental health.
These are shared experiences. The conversation around mental health continues to expand, but there’s more work to be done. It’s beyond time to end the stigma, normalize mental health matters, come alongside one another, and create community support.
There is no health without mental health.
How are you improving your mental health? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is not medical advice and is not intended to provide diagnosis or treatment, but is for educational or informational purposes only. I am not a medical professional, physician, or dietician. Before implementing any of the information on this website, please consult your physician, and do not use the information on this website to diagnose or treat any health issues.