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5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Mental Health

5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Mental Health

We are living in a hectic world where things seem to happen at a fast rate and require more of our thinking power to adapt to the changing environment. Therefore, it is important to take care of yourself by specifically improving your mental health. Each day, there are many easy tasks to perform which will allow you to maintain and enhance your mind and wellness and have lots of benefits later.

When you take care of your mind, you can make better decisions, think more clearly, feel more optimistic, create and maintain better relationships, sleep more peacefully, and generally feel cheerful. The question is who would not want these achievements?

Below are some of the five easy tips to improve your mental health.

1. Make healthy choices

It is very easy to relieve your hunger pangs by taking a snack, but simply interchanging food can help your mind stay more focused throughout the day. Nutritionists advise that swapping food that is moderate in protein, high in fiber, and low glycemic index, regulates food appetite and consumption.

For instance, a good example of a healthier snack is eating a fresh fruit and raw nuts. It is possible to train and persuade your brain to get stimulated about vegetables and to have no pleasure when you consume junk or sugary foods.

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You can achieve this by changing your eating behavior over time, and training your brain to desire healthier foods. Extensive research has found that the brain functions best with 25 grams of fruit sugars in the body.

Therefore, try training your brain by eating a fruit rather than a packet of crisps mid-morning. Sooner, your brain will get used to this eating habit and desire a fruit around that time.

Also, never forget to drink water too. Keeping your body hydrated can increase brain power by up to 20 percent. Always ensure you carry water in a bottle all the time since you will always remember to sip more often especially when you have a lot of work.

2. Have some quiet time

Our surroundings have too much noise since there are so many activities taking place around us that we lack enough resting time. When we are outdoors, we are surrounded by cars hooting and public noises from people, or the general hustle of the environment. On the other hand, when we are indoors such as being in an office, we are surrounded by noises from conversations, typing, telephones, printers, etc. Inside our houses too, we have the noises from TVs or Radios.

Out of all these distractions, when will our minds ever have peace or rest during the day?

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Getting some quiet time through relaxation in a quiet room can produce miracles for our mental health. Doing so will create focused  thoughts during the day. You can even practice some meditation since it encourages mental health.

The best way to maintain a quiet time to boost mental health is attempting some relaxation exercises. These include prayer, deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness practices and even short naps at mid-day.

3. Avoid stress

There are many forms of stress. People do not even realize they suffer from stress, but the buildup of small and regular negative thoughts and energy could contribute a negative impact on your mental and even physical health.

Stress can cause poor mental health in various disorders such as such as depression and anxiety, personality changes, bipolar disorder, problem behaviors, cognitive (thinking) problems, etc.

Apart from poor mental health, stress can also cause extreme fatigue, negative feelings, hair loss, infertility, muscle pains, weight loss/gain, and poor functioning of internal organs. Always try and find out what could be the leading causes of stress in your life. You can easily find out by assessing your environment.

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Later, try to change the possible causes of stress where you can. Most of the above stress causes can easily be solved by making small, positive changes by avoiding the what triggers them. For instance, it’s hard to avoid distractions from the office such as work colleagues very often. However, you may make a conscious decision to leave the office during lunchtimes and take a walk or rest in a quiet place in the fresh air on your own.

4. Keep your mind active

Using your computer or watching the TV after work every evening can have some benefits occasionally. But generally, combining your monotonous habit with something that maintains an active mind is an excellent way to stay sharp.

For instance, try playing with crosswords or puzzles, reading a book or solving a jigsaw. Many people decide involving themselves in gaming as a way of improving brain power. Games induce excitement, releases positive emotions that keep the brain active and encourage a sharp mind thus improving mental health.

Studies show that video games improve reaction times by 25 percent! Simple games like bingo can improve your reactions, create a lively mind and relieve stress. These days due to advanced technology, you can obtain lots of game applications on a tablet or phone which are available online.

5. Talk about it

If you have something or a problem on your mind, it does wonders when you get it off your chest. It is worth remembering that seeking help indicates strength, not weakness. It has been said that a problem half shared is a problem half solved.

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When you hold back negative or hurting thoughts such as anger, your mental health is prone to suffer. You will experience stress and tension, and you might also lack sleep at night. These feelings can build up so quickly, causing a seemingly desperate state in which you cannot avoid such as depression or stomach ulcers.

Fortunately, there is always a way out and help available, and it is never as hard as it appears to find a solution. You can also conquer any issues you have with patience, time, acceptance, understanding, and support.

Featured photo credit: Lena Bell via stocksnap.io

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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