Characteristics of Mental Health
Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It includes how you feel about yourself and how you adjust to life events. However, the National Mental Health Association cites 10 characteristics of people who are mentally healthy.
- They feel good about themselves most of the time
- Usually, they do not become overwhelmed by emotions, such as fear, anger, love, jealousy, guilt, or anxiety.
- Have lasting and satisfying personal relationships.
- Feel comfortable with other people.
- Can laugh at themselves and with others.
- Have respect for themselves and for others even if there are differences.
- Able to accept life’s disappointments.
- Can meet life’s demands and handle their problems when they arise.
- Make their own decisions.
- Shape their environment whenever possible and adjust to it when necessary
Eat your way to Better Mental Health
A study from Australia in 2016 found improvements in psychological well-being after increases in fruit and vegetable consumption. We wanted to know if this finding held true using a larger sample (more than 40,000 participants) from the UK Household Longitudinal Study.
A five year study in the UK has reported better mental well-being and life satisfaction with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Even after taking into account other factors of good mental health like physical health, income and the balance of other food they were eating.
The benefits of physical activity for mental health are well known. This study suggests that adding one portion of fruit or veggies to your diet per day could be as beneficial to mental well-being as going for a walk on an extra seven to eight days a month. So how much is one portion? This is equal to one cup of raw vegetables (the size of a fist), half a cup of cooked vegetables or chopped fruit, or one piece of whole fruit. This result is encouraging as it means that one possible way to improve your mental health could be something as simple as eating an extra piece of fruit every day or having a salad with a meal.
More Fruit and Veg = Longer Life
The 2016 Australian study authors show that the number of fruit and vegetable portions eaten in a day can predict whether someone is diagnosed with depression or anxiety two years later. This may contribute to longer life. Vitamins C and E have been shown to lower inflammatory markers linked to depressive mood. More research is needed, but it appears there’s evidence that eating fruits and vegetables and having higher levels of mental well-being related.
Best Ways to Prep and Cook Veggies:
Griddle – done on a pan on the stove
Bake or Roast
Saute’ don’t fry
Wash and cut (in large chunks if you much cut) right before you cook – cook whole if practical (think potato or spaghetti squash)
Don’t pre-wash too early as this washes away water soluble vitamins
Use olive as oil of choice
Exercise Your way to Better Mental Health
This is something you can read in almost any magazine, online article or on TV. It’s all about the exercise. Interesting quote from ??
“Sitting at your desk for extended periods of time, is the new smoking.”
There’s not shortage of studies and scientific results to justify our human need to MOVE IT, MOVE IT. Get that circulation going and everything works better from thinking, to digestion to sex! There’s some motivation.
However, we can make exercise our master, which isn’t healthy. One of my favorite heath writers, Tracy R. Graham wrote this in a recent post.
But, this all changed when I finally found the courage to be honest and ask myself- is this really worth it? And by being honest with myself, I discovered:
- I was just doing what everyone else told me I should do,
- I needed to take some time to figure out what was right for me, and,
- The GOAL of exercise, and diet, isn’t the exercise itself.. but, its me!
Yep, I was putting the “cart” of my fitness plan and the latest diet before the “horse” of my own life. I was following fitness around as if it was my Master… instead of using them as a tool, to live a better life!
Fitness became my master.
No! This shouldn’t be! That plan should help me live my best life ever… help me master my own body, instead, I was living as a slave to my exercise routine, or to what I ate.
Just realizing this, helped me put exercise back in its proper place. To make me feel better, to give me more energy (instead of draining it all away), to help me age well and avoid injury.
I can relate to Tracy. Not loving “exercise” but loving how it makes me feel can get out of proportion. Nothing, no matter how good it is for you should drive your life to exhaustion or worse, self-harm.
Let me encourage you to check your motivation and make sure your work outs aren’t mastering you.
Sleep Your Way to Better Mental Health
In a recent article by Business Leadership Mentor, Michael Hyatt, he discussed the benefits of and how to get the best out of the hours we set aside for rest. Michael is also a proponent of Naps, which seem to be a new trend in the business and retirement world. Just last weekend, Mike and I spent several days with retired relatives, not much older than we are. They do a “reset” most afternoons for a bit. Love the RESET!!!
MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY
First of all, you’ve got to take an inventory. Do long work hours leave you fatigued? Does your body crave more sleep than you’re getting? If so, then it’s trying to tell you something which is glaringly obvious: You need more, and better, rest. You can get that rest but you’re going to have to be purposeful about it. Resolve to rest and then do what it takes to make that possible.
GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP
The easiest and best way to do that is to get a good night’s sleep. That may be difficult with work pressures and children. But you can work toward it and, in the meantime, maximize the sleep that you are getting. There are many ways to do this, including:
- Turn devices off and put them away from your body.
- Establish a nighttime ritual and put your mind in the right place to fall asleep quicker.
- Limit late-night eating to cut down on internal disturbances.
- Drink more water throughout the day so that you don’t have to make up the deficit before bed, and make several trips to the bathroom.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF NAPS
If it gets into the afternoon and you feel yourself dragging, don’t be afraid to take a nap. I had a boss who figured out a way to take short naps in his chair every afternoon. He would fall asleep clutching his keys in his hands. When the keys fell, that would wake him up and signal it was time to start working again.
Along with all this, sleep is where we repair, where our brain gets the juice to carry us through the next hours of focus, decision making and health responses to the normal routine of life. Why would any of us skip that.
So 3 ways we can help boost our mental health, which also improve our physical health, include:
- Eating more fruit and veggies
- Exercising (i.e. having fun while getting a workout in)
- Sleeping better and more
I’m in, how about you? Email us and tell us how you’ll change 1 thing this week to improve your mental health. Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com