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Monday 23 September, 2019 0 Comments

If you have a body, you have physical health. And if you have a brain, you have mental health!

So, that’s all of us.

Wellbeing is a spectrum. Rather than being one fixed point, health is actually a fluid, constantly shifting state of being. And we move along the spectrum, back and forth, throughout our lives. Everyone has good days and bad days.

How we feel and think each day—the wellbeing of our bodies and minds—will be deeply affected by our habits, choices and simple ways of being. We’re not talking anything drastic here; just small, daily actions that can have a positive or negative effect on our general health and wellness. And this is actually a great thing, as it means all the tools we need to make real change are already right at our fingertips. And most importantly–– you don’t need to wait until you’re unwell to get started.

Illness is not a prerequisite for looking after our health.

Our minds and bodies are intricately connected. In other words, what’s genuinely good for one will genuinely support the other—win win!

This week is New Zealand Mental Health Awareness Week, which is a great opportunity for us all to consider the various ways we can nurture our mental wellness.

As a result, this particular post will primarily focussed on nurturing our minds––but it’s important to note, these tips will be ultimately beneficial for the body as well. 

So, our minds are bodies are deeply connected. How does that impact our health?

When we talk about mental health, it’s easy to get hung up on the brain. But health isn’t isolated to singular parts of our bodies––it exists throughout them. And as the different parts of our bodies require different things, there is no one single cause or cure for an unhealthy mental state. Instead, we need to approach wellbeing with a holistic, multifaceted approach. 

Most of us can recognise when we’re feeling out of balance. That ‘not-quite-right’ feeling is our bodies way of letting us know that some crucial needs are not being met. When you feel that way, one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is, “What do I need right now?” – and luckily, you’ll find that supporting your body and mind back to balance is a whole lot simpler than you think!

10 simple, everyday ways to nurture your mental wellness

Sleep

We all know how it feels to wake up from an awful sleep feeling totally off-kilter.

Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on our mood and energy, so it makes total sense that regular, adequate and quality sleep is essential to our wellbeing. This is because our bodies use sleep to undergo crucial restorative processes, both physically and psychologically.

We’ve identified a few handy tricks for a deep, restorative sleep.

Start by having thirty minutes of screen-free time before sleeping. As you lie in bed, you can then take some deep belly breaths to activate your ‘rest and digest’ mode. Finally, consider magnesium, especially if you struggle to relax or often find yourself unable to nod off.  

Movement

In a number of studies, exercise has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants for supporting people’s moods – without the myriad of potential side effects.

In a number of studies, exercise has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants for supporting people’s moods – without the myriad of potential side effects.

Simply moving your body can be an incredibly nourishing experience; releasing endorphins that make us feel good, supporting neural growth, reducing inflammation, and leading to better sleep.

Best of all, you don’t have to be a gym junkie to reap the benefits!

Find movement that’s right for you.

It’s important to find an activity that works for your lifestyle – something you actually enjoy and can do on a regular basis. If you have a busy, stressful schedule, opt for gentle, restorative movement to support hormonal balance; things like yoga, walking, tai chi, or swimming. 

Try to make a conscious shift in the way you consider movement. Rather than a personal punishment or chore, think of exercise as a gift your body can provide for your mind – a celebration of the amazing work our bodies can do. 

Gut health

This one is a big one! Digestive issues are the most obvious signs of gut dysbiosis, when your gut has more bad than beneficial bacteria. But really, the incredible complexity of the gut – and its impact on our overall health – is a topic of huge interest to the medical community.   

An imbalance in gut bacteria can negatively affect all aspects of our health; from the skin, to hormone balance, fatigue, and mood dysregulation.

To learn more about the significant role of gut health in mental wellbeing, join Ben on his latest nationwide tour, The Gut-Brain Connection.

Nutrients and whole foods

Nutrients are vital for supporting the hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel good. And often, our food choices determine the quantity – and quality – of the nutrients our bodies receive.

If you feel overwhelmed by choices, labels and brands, one easy goal to aim for is increasing the quantity of whole foods in your diet.

Unlike processed foods, whole foods don’t create inflammation, and will naturally contain helpful nutrients.

Nutrients also support our bodies' resilience. When we’re not nutritionally starved, our bodies respond better to stress, we can withstand more, and bounce back faster. They’ll also allow the other positive work you do – such as exercise – to have a more meaningful, longer-lasting impact.

Breathing and Meditation

Breathwork is so simple, but incredibly effective.

Simple breathing stimulates the vagus nerve parasympathetic nervous system –– or in other words, calms us physiologically, and psychologically. Deep breaths help slow our heart rate, reducing anxiety and allowing us to relax. This is important, because when we are calm we become more logical, more relaxed and better able to deal with stress. 

Practise conscious breathing (in count for four, hold count of four, exhale for four, hold for a count of four – like an easy breathing square!) a couple of times a day – you’ll be amazed at the difference. 

Purpose

The search for purpose and meaning is something humans have turned to throughout history to help them make sense of things. It’s the same for our mental health and wellness – when things don’t make sense or feel like a hassle on a daily basis, it helps to come back to an overall sense of purpose.

If you ultimately want to feel genuinely healthy and have a good relationship with your mind and body, use that as motivation for getting out the door for a walk around the block – even when your emotions are saying you can’t be bothered. It does help to try and come back to a bigger picture; whatever that picture looks like for you.

Time in Nature

Throughout our evolution, humans have been deeply connected to nature and the wider environment.

However, today’s modern lifestyles often keep us disconnected us from the outdoors – and with that, we miss out on the restorative benefits of time in the ocean, breathing in the fresh air, the breeze on our skin, our toes in the sand or the grass, and being surrounded by trees.

Take the time (even if it’s only once a week!) to get back to nature. There’s a reason we feel happy or inspired watching sunsets or seeing an incredible view… nature does wonders, you just need to put yourself in its way!

Chatting it Out

This will be different for everyone according to your different needs. For some people, speaking to a professional is the best option, while for others, a simple walk and a chat on the beach with a friend will do the trick.

However it happens, it’s essential to pay attention to your inner dialogue, and to explore the ways in which you can make positive changes to the thought patterns that go on to define your worldview.

As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Professional psychotherapy is incredible when it’s financially available, and you are able to find a practitioner that’s right for you.

Journaling is also a great option, as sometimes simply articulating your feelings is the key to understanding them. Writing also allows you to privately explore your thoughts and actions. Which ones are holding you back? Which ones are supporting wellbeing?

If you do choose to speak with a friend, it’s always helpful to check if they have the mental and emotional capacity to be talking through problems; and if you can, offer support in return.

Safe and supportive relationships

Humans are tribal by nature, and the desire to be social is a basic human need.

Some of us crave socialisation more regularly than others – but generally, it helps to seek quality over quantity when it comes to relationships.

Just like different foods, relationships feed your mind and body in different ways, and it’s important to identify a few key people who help you feel your best.  

Having supportive and loving people around us makes it easier for us to see our own value, and take better care of ourselves.

When it comes to relationships, sometimes we are our own biggest barrier. But it’s all cyclical, because having supportive and loving people around us makes it easier for us to see our own value, and take better care of ourselves.

When we have a full bucket, we have more capacity to give back, perpetuating a beautiful exchange of love and support. 

Patience and compassion

We’re never going to bully, punish or deprive ourselves into happiness, which is what we ultimately are all seeking, right? 

Being genuinely kind to ourselves is one of the most potent ‘medicines’ we can take.

Being genuinely kind to ourselves is one of the most potent ‘medicines’ we can take.

The most important relationship you’ll ever have is the one with yourself, and just like any other relationship, it’s not good by default, it takes time, love, compassion, support, kindness, humour, vulnerability, acceptance. Mistakes and failures are inevitable, but we can shift our view to treat those as valuable lessons, from which we can learn from and move on.

Mistakes and failures are inevitable, but we can shift our view to treat those as valuable lessons, from which we can learn from and move on.

Above all, be kind to yourself! It’s easy to say, but often harder to do. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all at once. And most importantly, speak to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love.

There is no magic ingredient to good health and wellness.

There is no magic ingredient to good health and wellness – rather, it’s the cumulative effect of small habits and actions that work in combination to make you feel balanced and positive.

When it comes to nurturing your mind and body, it truly is a case of ‘all the little things count’. Take comfort in the fact that small changes can go on to have a great impact – especially when you keep the bigger picture in mind.  

 

Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique, for your individual health concerns it is important to discuss these with a BePure Holistic Health Consultant or relevant health professional.





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