Spotlight on Mental Health: Compassionate Self Care

Mental health refers to a person’s psychological, social and emotional wellbeing.  Our mental and emotional state affects everything we do, feel, think, and act on. How we handle stress, make choices, relate to others, and take care of ourselves is a reflection of our mental state.

Traumatic experiences and significant shifts in our lives can lead to serious health complications that manifest mentally and physically. Prolonged periods of poor mental health can negatively change the course of a person’s life.

Every year over 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected by anxiety disorders, and that is only the number recorded. Unfortunately, many people who experience poor mental health do not get help.

Mental health disorders may develop over time and even overlap. For instance, a person managing an anxiety disorder may also suffer from depression. Common risk factors can include genetics, brain chemistry, personality traits, and traumatic life events. 

Globally there has been a significant increase in mental health problems over the past year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, most of us have experienced dramatic shifts, upheaval, loneliness, and stress.

Addressing your feelings, acknowledging circumstances, and being open to talking about the things that trouble you are ways to have more compassion for yourself.

Oftentimes people go through great suffering and put off getting help until they are in dire need or find themselves in crisis. Getting help before that point can ultimately prevent the negative impacts poor mental health can have on the individual’s life. Taking steps to care for your mind and body will better equip you to live a healthier, more fulfilled life.

There are numerous natural ways you can start supporting your mental health. Make it a priority this month to implement some of these practices into your daily life.

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1. Maintain a Balanced Diet 

When experiencing poor mental health, we may tend to eat more junk food as a way to comfort ourselves. Emotional eating is a natural response during stressful times. Make minor adjustments like drinking an extra glass of water and eating mindfully away from screens. Remember to go easy on yourself. Nourish your body by eating balanced meals and try to avoid indulging in sugar and alcohol. Eating a healthy diet will help regulate your hormone levels and balance your gut bacteria. This is very important for your mental health because your hormone levels and gut bacteria levels have a major effect on the way you act and feel.

 

2. Take Natural Supplements

There are many natural supplements, herbs, and plant medicines that can help you find balance during stressful times. Here are a few supplements that have stress support benefits and support your mental health.

Talk to your doctor about starting a supplement regimen to support your mental health and overall wellbeing.

 

3. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is essential to maintaining good physical and mental health. The human body relies on sleep for survival. Getting a full night’s sleep is vital for the body to repair itself and supports optimal brain function.

 

4. Breathing Exercises 

Breathing exercises and meditating are great coping mechanisms to use during stressful times. For example, if you go into a state of panic, focus on calming your mind by taking slow, mindful breathes to help deliver more oxygen to your brain. Practicing breathing techniques signals your brain to relax and reduce your heart rate and cortical levels.

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Sleep health and mental health
Mental health breathing techniques

5. Find a Safe Place to Speak Your Truth

Human connection and feeling safe and free to be you is one of the most important forces of mental health therapy. Talking to a therapist about your mental health can have a major positive impact on your wellbeing. Talk therapy can help you become more aware of your triggers and managing difficult emotions with compassion. Finding other people who are going through similar challenges may also be an effective way to get through mental health challenges. Feeling safe to talk about what you are going through and speaking your truth will help you feel empowered and well.

 

6. Music Therapy

Having mood swings, feeling irritable or unmotivated are common symptoms of depression and anxiety. A great tool to help lift your spirit and shift your state of mind is to listen to music. Uplifting music can help you improve your mood and reduce stress. Neurologist Dr. Michael Schneck found that classical music helps relieve anxiety. Various studies found that music helps lower cortisol levels, which are associated with stress. Music can also enhance a person’s productivity, health, and performance.

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Music for mental health

If you or someone you know is struggling mentally, emotionally, or physically remember to have compassion. Humanity needs compassion more than ever at these times!