We live in a culture with a propensity to reward and privilege a stressful, overwhelming lifestyle. The busier we are, the more successful we may appear to the people around us. Having a full schedule and a challenging occupation has its benefits, but if we don’t take our personal needs and mental health into consideration, it’s all too easy for our anxieties, stresses, negative habits and depressive tendencies to get the better of us. Let’s discuss some easy ways to improve emotional wellbeing. Just like brushing your teeth or getting a regular check up, these activities and habits can act as mental health maintenance, and even help to prevent more serious issues that arise from prolonged emotional neglect.
Exercise has the real capacity to promote chemicals in the brain that improve mood and increase levels of relaxation. During and after exercise, the brain releases endorphins throughout the body. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and low mood, and to enhance self-esteem. Only a few years ago, researchers at Princeton University discovered that physical activity creates “vibrant new brain cells – and shuts them down when they shouldn’t be in action.” This finding further helped the University’s researchers prove that exercise reduces anxiety in both people and animals. A 1999 study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, also found that a regular fitness regime was comparable to a low dose of the SSRI sertraline (Zoloft).
The right food choices can make a big difference for your mood. For example, think back to Thanksgiving dinner and how relaxed and lethargic turkey made you feel. Different foods affect us in different ways; some can calm us down or make us sluggish, while others can increase energy and productivity. More specifically, healthy foods are full of minerals and vitamins that can improve our mood. Dark green vegetables like asparagus and spinach are full of vitamin B, which is known to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Fermented milk, or kefir, has the capacity to help reduce anxiety by raising serotonin levels in the brain. Food chemistry is an important and undeniable factor of our mental wellbeing and should be taken seriously, especially if you find yourself stressed, anxious or depressed.
Just talking about your emotions and feelings can be a huge relief, improving your mood and emotionally stability. Try to talk to the people in your life who you trust and who are good listeners. They won’t have all the answers, but just vocalizing your worry or concern can help you begin to approach working through your stress and anxiety.
Writing down your thoughts can be a practical and surprisingly helpful tool for emotional wellbeing. Journaling about your stress factors can help put your problems and anxieties into perspective, giving you a better idea of how to approach them or, at the very least, allowing you to become aware that they exist. Don’t know what to write about? Try stream-of-conscious journaling, a style of writing where you write whatever is on your mind. The only rule is that you don’t take your pen off the page. This can be a freeing way to find out what your subconscious concerns are. It can also be a calming activity to help pass an anxious time or moments of heightened sadness or stress.
Counselling is an invaluable tool for maintaining your emotional wellbeing. The benefits of seeing a counsellor or therapist are unending. They can help you tackle and understand a number of underlying issues that you may not be equipped to find or work through on your own. Sometimes people associate seeking therapy with a sign of weakness or an acknowledgment of mental illness – but these are common misconceptions. Therapy is an exceptionally beneficial tool in healing or maintaining one’s mental health, mood and wellness. It’s important to make mental health a priority and to take it as seriously as personal hygiene or physical fitness. Emotional health is just like physical health: it requires daily maintenance and regular upkeep to stay on track. Ignoring how you feel can be dangerous and destructive, but making the effort to stay cognizant about your emotional wellbeing can also be difficult.
It can be challenging to make your emotional health and mental wellbeing a priority. We all have so much on the go that sometimes it’s easy to ignore our mood and what we require emotionally.
Are you interested in pursuing the benefits of counselling?
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