Listen to “Mood-Boosting Tools for Mental Well-Being”.
Mental health is an underserved area—in part because there is a stigma around the term ‘mental disease’. More and more people are seeking out natural ways to improve their mood and brain performance. The best approach is a holistic one.
Too often people in this space try the singular approach, like taking one drug or supplement to boost serotonin levels and expecting major long-term benefits. But your brain’s health is multifactorial—it’s connected to your diet, gut health, stress responses, sleep patterns, brain chemistry, and so on.
There are some excellent tools that people can use on a daily basis.
Food plays a critical role in your mental state. Put simply, food is fuel, and the kinds of food and drink you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system which impact how well your mind and body are able to function.
Big Food has completely altered the food environment by making unhealthy foods the cheapest, most ubiquitous, most heavily marketed, most difficult to resist, and socially acceptable. Junk foods are high in calories, sugars, and fats, but lack the most important nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
You can reduce your consumption of junk food by leaving it on the shelf, practicing portion control, and adding more healthy foods to your diet.
Healthy diets may vary from country to country, but research has shown that, regardless of where you live, eating a more traditional, pre-industrial diet rich in plant foods, fish, unrefined grains, and fermented foods, with less meat and highly palatable processed and snack foods, reduces your risk of depression.
Whether it’s the Mediterranean diet or Japanese cuisine rich in fish, seaweed, green tea and tofu, there are plenty of ways to eat healthily.
2. Sleep and exercise
And although we’ve all heard this ad nauseam, most of us are still deficient when it comes to sleep and movement.
The benefits of being physically active extend to other aspects of mental health that contribute to our overall quality of life, such as self-esteem and being energised or fatigued.
Many studies suggest that self-esteem increases among adults when physical fitness is increased. Research also suggests that larger gains in self-esteem can be expected for individuals with initially low levels, once physical activity is introduced.
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. Those with previous mental health problems are more likely to suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders.
3. Stress management
It all comes down to basic stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, environment, and the way you deal with problems.
The ultimate goal of stress management is to lead a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
You can help relieve stress by immersing yourself in nature more often and unplugging from the news. Try taking an occasional ‘news fast’ and limit your screen time as much as possible, especially for the first hour of each day.
Find time for meditation, as it helps it train the mind in a similar way to how fitness trains the body. Relaxation is not the goal of meditation, but it is often a result.
4. Always choose a positive attitude
A positive attitude makes you happier and more resilient. It also improves your relationships and can even increase your chances of success in your endeavors. In addition, having a positive attitude makes you more creative and it can help you to make better decisions. Think of life not as something that’s happening to you, but as something that’s happening for you. Look at any challenging situation, person, or event as if it were a teacher that’s been brought into your life to teach you something.