May is Mental Health Awareness Month, both in the US and UK, drawing attention to the importance of mental health in all areas of life. The event is a step in removing the stigma surrounding mental health, so that people can reach out and get the much-needed help they require.
It’s never been more important to set healthy routines to support your mental and physical well being. Right now, worry, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety have taken over the world, and we need to find ways to rise up.
Primarily, we should focus on what we can manage, and not worry about what is beyond our control. In support of Mental Health Month, Biotics Research is highlighting Tools to Thrive - #Tools2Thrive - what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, and build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles.
For each of us, the tools we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. In this article we’ll discover ways to support mental health with three key #tools2thrive, as well as going over the 7 symptoms of anxiety. Finding what works for you may not be easy, but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it’s possible to find balance between work and play.
Here are three ways that you can improve your mental health this May:
Detox Your Life
Creating healthy boundaries, and setting up healthy routines can pave the way to better mental and physical health. Sometimes, it's not adding in more that's required; often the first step is to detox your life of people, behaviors or situations that no longer serve you.
Before taking steps to fill the gap with healthier lifestyle choices. Why not ask yourself: “What's one thing that I need to stop or get out of my life?”
Detoxification can be emotional, physical or environmental. Setting time aside to detox your life can provide much needed clarity and space to set up new routines. Let go of the old patterns of behavior that are no longer serving you.
Create Healthy Routines for Success
Find daily routines that lift you up. Routines can help organize your days into patterns and make it easier to get things done, without having to think hard about them. Explore how you can create a healthy routine.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 66 days before a habit becomes automatic. This means that a new habit might not feel easy at first, but after 66 days, new healthy behaviors will become engrained. The types of healthy routines that apply now are:
- Daily exercise
- Bedtime routine
- Morning routine
- Work routine
When changing your routines, it's a good idea to start small. Don't try to change up everything at once. Pick one small thing each week and focus on making that change.
One of the most impactful routines for your mind and body is creating a strong bedtime routine that includes switching off devices and getting to bed early. This may also include taking supplements like magnesium or L-theanine to promote healthy sleep.
Feeling out of our control, and the inability to act on it can worsen symptoms of anxiety. Creating routines and timetables can help keep things moving forward, which foster feelings of progress and success.
Get Your Zzzs and Understand the DHA-Sleep Connection
DHA is the main omega-3 fatty acid in your brain. It’s responsible for supporting healthy blood flow during mental tasks. DHA and EPA also aid the transmission of serotonin (the happy hormone). DHA isn’t created in high quantities in humans, and as such, is required in the diet.
Several studies have shown a clear relationship between sleep and DHA levels in the blood. Long-chain fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) directly relate to sleep/wake cycles due to their roles in the pineal gland, where melatonin is produced.
Several studies have shown a clear correlation between serum levels of DHA and sleep. In one study, infants were shown to have a better quality of sleep when their mother took DHA supplementation during pregnancy. A more recent study that followed over 500 adolescents from 6 months of age showed that just 45 minutes of additional sleep increased serum DHA levels by 95%. This means that getting enough sleep can enhance DHA levels, which can in turn improve mental health during the day.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Knowing the symptoms of anxiety can help enhance awareness, so that you can take time out to get balanced. Anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness and the uncertainty felt around the world right now is producing an epidemic of worry and fear.
Even before the global pandemic took hold of our psyche, anxiety disorders were the most common mental illness in the US. affecting 40 million US adults every year. Understanding when worry has turned to anxiety can help people assess how they’re feeling.
To help raise awareness, here are some common symptoms of anxiety to look out for:
- Stomach/ digestion problems
- Increased heart rate
- Uncontrollable thoughts/ feelings of dread
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in energy or difficulty sleeping
- Irritability/ restlessness
- Panic attacks (in extreme cases)
All mental health conditions are exacerbated with lack of sleep. That’s why a healthy bedtime routine is one of the most important factors to support mental health. Also, taking time to reach out and connect with loved ones can be an important step forward.
For many years we’ve been battling the stigma surrounding mental health. Raising awareness is the key to allowing people to get help. Many lifestyle factors can alter mental health, including a healthy sleep routine, getting daily exercise and good nutrition. Studies have shown a bidirectional relationship between mental health conditions, nutrition and sleep. For this reason, ensuring that you get adequate nutrition, especially omega-3s, B-complex vitamins and magnesium, are essential steps toward better mental health.
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