It is estimated that 1 out of 5 people live with mental health issues. Starting an open dialogue about mental wellness is crucial. Mental health is whole body health. One is not more important than the other, they are dependent upon one another. According to “No health without mental health” in The Lancet, “Mental disorders increase the risk for communicable and non-communicable diseases and contribute to unintentional and intentional injury. Conversely, many health conditions increase the risk for mental disorder, and comorbidity complicates help-seeking, diagnosis, and treatment, and influences prognosis.” This means that having a mental illness increases your risk of becoming sick and developing chronic disease, and that your physical health impacts your mental health.
If you have ever struggled with mental health issues, you may have received a prescription from your medical or mental health provider. Pharmaceuticals serve as the main and sometimes only treatment of these issues in a conventional model. They can be absolutely necessary and lifesaving in certain situations. But there is more to consider. Have you ever wondered why we have mental illnesses? What factors contribute to them? Have you ever thought, “There has to be more to this picture?”
There are a multitude of factors that affect our mental health. Factors including genetics and environmental exposures play a role. Some things that can affect a person’s mental health are:
Each mental illness can look very different. Remember we are all bio-individuals! Here are some signs you or someone you know could use some support:
It's important to consider the root cause, rather than just masking the symptoms, when it comes to both physical and mental health. Used in combination with treatment provided by mental health counselors and other providers, the Naturopathic approach to integrative mental health examines many factors that contribute to your whole-person well-being. It supports your natural healing ability, promotes physical health, encourages healthy habits, and, when pharmaceutical intervention is necessary, helps to minimize medication side effects. When you work with qualified practitioners and address underlying issues, you can help support your body’s and mind’s optimal functioning. There are numerous treatment options available, and I encourage you to explore an integrative approach to your mental health. To support mental wellness, factors such as nutrition, exercise, relationships, spirituality, life stressors, and sleep need to be examined.
Areas of focus to increase mental well-being naturally:
Need to talk?
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Text or Call 988
NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness
Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
Text “helpline” to 62640
NAMI: Teen & Young Adult Helpline
Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
Text “Friend” to 62640
SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Eating Disorders Association
Text “NEDA” to 741741
Wishing you peace and vitality,
Vanessa S., contributor
Remember folks, this blog is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician! Always consult your licensed healthcare professional before making any changes to your health regimen.
How will you support your health?
Today is a day for women everywhere to come together, support one another, and recognize that we must prioritize our health. No matter where we are along our health journeys, we can take small actions each and every day to improve our health and love ourselves! Below are five simple ways to encourage optimal health today and the whole year through!
Spend time in nature
Forest bathing, gardening, and walking in the park are just a few ways we can get in touch with nature. Depending on your environment, this can look different for everyone. Forest bathing is my favorite! A lush green forest's positive vibes and tranquility cannot be beat! No access to a safe nature retreat? No problem! Try caring for a few houseplants, grow fragrant and health-promoting herbs in your kitchen, or experiment with container gardening. Even the tiniest of spaces can grow fruits or vegetables!
Research shows that getting our hands dirty and spending time gardening can increase happiness and longevity. In “Gardening is beneficial for health; A meta-analysis,” Masashi Soga et al. concluded, “The results presented here suggest that gardening can improve physical, psychological, and social health, which can, from a long-term perspective, alleviate and prevent various health issues facing today's society.” Centenarians in Blue Zones are known to keep gardens. Hello, positive aging! Gardening is a form of stress relief, a source of healthy microbes, and can provide your family with the freshest produce.
Connect with friends and family
The safe and positive people in our lives can bring us so much joy! Healthy relationships mean healthier bodies. A study by Holt-Lunstad et al. studied the relationship between social connection and public health. They found that “A robust body of scientific evidence has indicated that being embedded in high-quality close relationships and feeling socially connected to the people in one’s life is associated with decreased risk for all-cause mortality as well as a range of disease morbidities.”
What does this mean to you? Cultivating healthy relationships in your life means less disease, fewer health problems, and more vitality! A large portion of the population lacks sufficient social connection. We must be reminded that the people in our lives, or lack of them, are an overlooked health indicator.
Treat your body to nutrient-dense foods
Eat your vegetables. Not the first time you’ve heard this? I thought so. We’ve heard time and again to ‘eat the rainbow’ or ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Too many women stress over calories, carbs, or fat. Restrictive eating doesn’t feel good and usually is not sustainable long-term. Plus, it can be detrimental to our mental and physical health. Simply eat as many whole foods as you can. Get as close to the natural state of the plant as possible.
Having trouble getting all your veggies in? Start small. Try incorporating an additional serving of vegetables each day. Snacking on carrots and hummus or adding a side of greens to each meal are small moves with a big impact! Not a fan of veggies? Know that it is totally normal to have an aversion to some flavors, especially bitter. The Standard American Diet is comprised mainly of very bland and very sweet foods. It will take time, but if you keep adding in these little bursts of produce your body will start to crave it!
Practice positive self-talk
Your body is listening! Tell it something good today! There is no one like you. All women are unique. Our bodies, minds, and experiences are unique. What we think and what we say to ourselves has an impact on whole body health. The mind-body connection is a powerful tool we can employ to boost our health and vitality.
The great thing about positive self-talk? Anybody can do it anywhere. It is free! Write yourself some love notes on your bathroom mirror, purchase or make affirmation cards, or maybe recite a self-loving mantra a few times a day. The body is listening and responding accordingly!
“My body is healthy and capable”
“I love who I am becoming”
“I am strong. I can do anything”
“I have the power to create the life I desire”
“I nourish my body because I love myself”
Focus on joyful movement
Wow! I have the ability to exercise today! My body is truly amazing! As women, we often feel the pressure to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount. We don’t owe the world anything. We do owe ourselves. We owe ourselves love and care. Let us celebrate the unique and marvelous bodies we were given! Exercise is a sacred act of self-care. Research shows that 30 minutes a day can work wonders for your health. The American Heart Association along with the American College of Sports Medicine presents the following recommendation. “To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults aged 18-65 need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on five days each week...”
Do what you love. Move in ways that feel good and natural. Be gentle and kind to yourself, always remembering that you are a beautiful work in progress. Prioritize activities that you love and work with your life. For me, that looks like yoga at home in my living room and long walks after dinner with my family. How does it look for you? I would LOVE to hear what you are doing today to move joyfully!
Remember you are worth it!
Vanessa S, contributor
Friendly reminder-- for educational purposes only. Always consult your primary care physician or other licensed provider before making any changes to your health regimen.
THE BLOG AT NATURAL PATH TO WELLNESS
Natural Path to Wellness values community education and welcomes contributions from writers with a background in Naturopathic Medicine, natural health and wellness, herbalism, homeopathy, Nature Cure, and more.