September is suicide prevention month and a reminder of how important it is to know the signs and symptoms of depression in order to help those who are suffering. Because suicide is so complex and sometimes very hard to predict, having holistic approaches to mental health and wellbeing can support the integration of mind, body and spirit and provide a foundation to diminish the possibility of desperation and desperate acts.
In our very busy world, we all need to figure out how to take care of ourselves and learn better ways to support healthy habits for a lifetime. When people hear the term “wellness” they often just think of physical wellness: sleeping eight hours a night, drinking 64 ounces of water a day, working out for at least ½ hour three times a week, eating five fruits and vegetables a day, etc. Physical wellness is important, but it is only one dimension of overall wellness. Mental, social/emotional, and spiritual aspects of wellness are also key and highly related to each other. Here are 6 holistic approaches to mental health and wellbeing to support anyone of any age. Start incorporating them now!
Keep physically active: it’s a vital holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Keeping physically active is vital to mental and physical health and there is new research to show it helps with ADHD and those who are physically active feel better in mood and outlook. This article is one of many that shows the connection between exercising and mood enhancement, reduction in fight or flight responses (anxiety) and increase in brain functioning. By moving our bodies, whether through daily walking, running or some other exercise, we are helping to lift our mood and thus our overall feeling of wellbeing, a real antidote to depression and anxiety.
Meditation and yoga facilitate the concepts of mindfulness and meditation to keep a mind-body connection which allows us to keep in touch with what is happening between emotions, mood, thoughts and physiological sensations. Being in touch with this connection helps us to be in-tune with ourselves and with how we are feeling, what we need and how to stay balanced. Most yoga practices have a component of reflection and meditation to just “be” and not have to always “do” which is so vital for managing stress.
Eat a proper diet.
It is clear that what we eat, how much and whether the food is processed or not can affect our mood, energy level and physical symptoms in our body. Finding the right food for your body and treating any ailments you might have (i.e. diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammation, etc.) can really help with overall wellbeing. Eating more vegetables and protein and less carbohydrates and processed sugars has been recommended by the government’s 2015-2020 health guidelines. However, consulting with a nutritionist to assess your needs could provide another approach to understanding your own health and wellbeing needs from a more holistic approach. Finally, joining a RESTART program which is educational, supportive and a sugar-detox could be a way to jumpstart into healthy habits.
Healthy relationships are the most important antidote to loneliness, unhappiness and isolation. Keeping connected to others provides support, emotional closeness and a community. One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help but it’s an incredibly important way to support overall wellbeing. WE CAN NOT DO EVERYTHING! Humans are wired to connect with others and if we isolate and don’t share with others what we are feeling, what we need and when we are suffering, it only compounds the problem of isolation, depressed mood and low self-esteem. Asking for support when you are suffering, when you are overwhelmed with a project or school work or need to accomplish something is an important lifestyle skill and will prevent feeling overly stress and alone, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Of course, seeking a mental health professional before you are burnt out or depressed, is a smart approach and can stop a downward spiral.
Making a habit of acknowledging what we are grateful for in our life can help to raise hope, remind ourselves of what is important in our life and put things in perspective. By doing so, this can raise our optimism about our situation and our future. All this can raise our mood, lower our blood pressure, and provide a calmness and peacefulness in our mind and bodies, which provides that holistic aspect to wellbeing, as well.
Balance your lifestyle.
What does it mean to have a balanced lifestyle? With life having so many demands and expectations, it can be very difficult to carve out time for yourself, your friends and family, your passions and hobbies and/or for developing new interests. Juggling all this and family life can result in the overwhelm and overload that many people feel. Naturally, this can lead to depression and anxiety that can become debilitating. Developing a practice of self-care and self compassion is a very important aspect to living a more holistic life, even if it means giving up something else. Find a time to take a solitary walk in nature, listen to some music, take an art class, play golf or just read a book. It’ll do wonders for you mood and ability to manage.
Here’s a great quote to think about if you are afraid to make some changes: