May is Mental Health Month, so we’re looking at some simple ways you can help keep your mind in a good place.
Wholesome food, avoiding sugar and toxins are obvious tools for great health but how should you deal with the consequences of negative thinking and stress?
Experts rate exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling negative thoughts and building strong social support as some of the best ways to decrease stress and boost immunity – so paying attention to your feelings and needs is as vital as drinking enough water and avoiding junk food.
The release of endorphins during exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing, which has the added benefit of boosting your immune system. With the release of endorphins, your body receives a natural mood boost, resulting in reduced stress levels, which in turn puts less pressure on your immune system.
2. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
According to a study, stress is what keeps more than 40% of adults awake at night. To aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, avoid caffeine, digital screens and try to turn in at the same time each evening.
3. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE
Make an effort to do something nice for yourself every day. Neglecting your own needs adds unnecessary stress to the system, making you more vulnerable to illness. Women, in particular, tend to put their own needs last, especially if they’re caring for children and/or elderly parents. If you battle with guilt when you take an hour off to read, go for a manicure or have a coffee with a friend, remind yourself that if your bucket is empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else.
A University of Wisconsin study showed that people who practised mindfulness – a type of meditation or mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations – noted 13 fewer illnesses and took 51 fewer sick days. Take a few minutes each day just to ‘be’ – perhaps while you’re in the shower and away from distractions.
5 IT TAKES A VILLAGE…
Building strong social connections has proven benefits. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, having a ‘support group’ – no matter how big or small – boosts immunity by creating ‘stress buffers’. Sharing stress or concerns with family or friends provides an opportunity for outside support and advice, which alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation.