Many people today suffer from some degree of mental health issues. It’s a small wonder, given the seemingly dire situation the world finds itself in (and there’s a hint right there). Add to that the stress of the modern workplace and a system that demands more and more of our time and attention and a culture that persists in telling us it’s selfish to put ourselves first, and it’s not surprising that people feel out of whack most of the time. And yet, better mental health requires that we put ourselves first. And this can involve making small, but important changes in our lives.
Here are some tips and resources from Olotita to get you started on the right path.
The Importance of Sleep
When work demands more of our time, sleep is usually the first thing that goes by the wayside. The corporate work culture and a 24/7 schedule discourage sleep, telling us not to be so lazy and to get up and get with it.
This is a bad idea, and ultimately counterproductive. Exxon-Mobil found this out the hard way many years ago when authorities investigating the Exxon Valdez oil spill determined that sleep deprivation was a factor. According to Dr. David Dinges, sleep plays a vital role in the ability to think clearly and remember things while awake as well as mood and emotional regulation.
If you can’t dedicate seven hours a day to sleep, you are too busy for your own mental health.
The Importance of Nutrition
Given the demands of the corporate world these days, it’s not surprising that people rely on quick snacks or fast food and caffeine to maintain their energy levels during the day. While it is true that a shot of sugar or caffeine can give you a quick boost, that comes with a major crash afterward. Excessive consumption of sugar and other refined carbs can also lead to weight gain, impaired thinking, and an elevated risk for diabetes. Besides causing the “jitters,” caffeine can exacerbate hypertension. There are health benefits to coffee as well, so if you’re drinking it for that reason, choose decaf.
Adopting a more plant-based diet can benefit more than just your body. Numerous studies show that a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains can have a salubrious effect on a person’s psychological and emotional outlook as well. Besides that, a plant-based diet is better for the planet’s ecosystem, which gives you something else to feel good about.
Organizing Your Finances
It should come as no surprise that financial issues can be a major source of personal stress, so do what you can to get your finances in order. This could include creating a strict budget – and actually sticking to it – as well as refinancing a loan to save money. This is an area where success isn’t actually as hard to achieve as you might think, but it requires a little homework and discipline to get on the right track.
Alternatives to Psychotropic Medications
Drugs used for depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues are scary. While they are effective, they can have serious side effects ranging from stomach upset and dizziness to suicidal behavior. Fortunately, there are several alternatives.
One of these is to simply reach for better feeling thoughts as often as possible. Mental health professionals call this “emotional self-regulation” (ESR). There is a hierarchy of emotional states, with depression and powerlessness at the bottom and joy, knowledge, and freedom at the top. It is impossible to move up from depression to joy in one leap. However, one can move from depression to anger, and from anger to frustration, etc., working up the scale until they can feel satisfaction. It takes time and practice but is very effective. Another alternative for treating depression is St. John’s Wort. Be aware however that it can have its own side effects and interactions.
Explore these tips, take charge of your own wellness, and you’ll be well on the road to better mental health in no time!
Emma Grace Brown
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