A Holistic Approach to Mental Health


What do you think when we say the words, “mental health”.  Just pause for a second.  Did you think wellness or sickness?  Did you think of a depressed relative or an individual in quiet, zen-like calmness as they practice a mindful meditation class.  Unlike physical health, throughout history, society has become prejudicial to mental health and more importantly mental illness.  But, our past doesn’t have to be the deciding force in our future!  And thankfully, things are changing.

If we think of mental health more like working out at the gym, it helps move our focus towards training both our mental health and our mental fitness.  The buzz word in psychology for this is mental resilience.  So what type of mental sit-ups and press-ups can you do to train your mental health muscles?  Follow the WorkLifeWell Mental Health Workout with these easy daily steps.

Eat right - They say, you are what you eat, but what about you think what you eat.  Our nutrition has a drastic impact on our minds.  In a study in 2018 by Parletta and her research team, they showed that individuals on a Mediterranean diet (nuts, legumes, fish, olive oil) had significantly lower levels of depression.  At the other end of the spectrum, O’Neil found that diets high in saturated fat and carbohydrates led to higher levels of mental health challenges in children and adolescents.

Caffeine - Caffeine is a useful pick-me-up when you are a little tired, however, too much caffeine and you can start seeing some negative effects.  This stimulant can negatively alter our sleep patterns making us feel tired and playing catch-up each day.  Excess caffeine has also been shown to cause anxiety and depression.  So, there’s nothing wrong with your morning tea or coffee, but moderate your intake the rest of the day.  Remember, there are a number of other foods which contain caffeine including cola drinks,  chocolate and energy drinks. 

Exercise - Short walks, can they help?  In fact general exercise is great for your mental health and importantly, the research shows that short walks and even intense housework enhances sensations of calmness, contentment and alertness.  Overall, low-intense aerobic exercise, 3-5 times per week, for approximately 30-35 minutes improved alertness and enthusiasm, leading to a more positive mood. 

Enjoy - We’ve all had to reorganise how we live our lives and for many how we do our jobs.  For some of us it has eaten heavily into our daily or weekly routines and importantly into our hobbies and pastimes. So, ask yourself, if you can’t do the things that you used to enjoy, can you find a different pastime.  Alternatively, is there a hobby that you have forgotten, that you could start up again.  Whatever it is you choose, get some enjoyment in your day. 

Connect - In the current world, connections are often a like, tag or share on social media but this isn’t really a deep connection.   Maintaining those connections with friends and colleagues is really important to support our mental health.  Friends can build our self-esteem, help keep us accountable to our goals and usefully, support us when things take a turn for the worse.

Charity - The warm buzz you get when you help others, whether it be friends, colleagues or those in need helps reminds us that we are all in this together whatever your struggles.  Being altruistic has been shown to decrease stress,  improve our mood,  build self-esteem and create a sensation of happiness.  

If any of the above resonates, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch at [email protected]

Author: Dr Adam Greenfield, co-founder of WorkLifeWell | Chiropractor | Wellness Specialist

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