While the majority of our work here as women’s healthcare providers takes place in the physical realm, we know mental health is a foundational component to physical health.
When your mind is healthy, balanced, clear, and grounded, you are better able to take good care of your body. Review these steps for good mental health and see if there’s anything you can do to support healthy brain function – and a more rejuvenated body and spirit – this year.
Establish Healthy Sleep Habits
Before brain imaging and more innovative testing tools existed, sleep was such a mysterious part of human existence. Obviously rest was part of that need, and we knew healing took place best when we rested, but now we’ve learned so much more.
Healthy sleep (via a synced circadian rhythm) is hugely important to the brain’s natural “detoxing” process, including eliminating certain proteins and amyloid plaques that contribute to dementia. Lack of sleep exacerbates inflammation and compromises the immune system. Visit sleepfoundation.org’s, Healthy Sleep Tips for Women, and revamp your sleep routine.
To that end, we recommend ceasing all screen watching/gazing at least 30-minutes before sleep – and get your phone(s) and gadget(s) out of the bedroom.
Focus on a Whole-Foods (anti-inflammatory) Diet
We loathe the word “diet” in this context because a whole-foods based
“diet,” focusing on anti-inflammatory foods, is not limiting. It is rich in delicious, colorful fruits and veggies, and you can have plenty of lean protein – and it nourishes your brain.
What you learn to reduce/eliminate are the processed foods and snacks, as well as refined sugars (a few treats here and there are fine), that contribute to inflammation and weight gain. Switching to nutritional plan such as Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, the South Beach Diet, or a Mediterranean Diet also reduce or eliminate symptoms of multiple reproductive-related conditions, such as endometriosis, PCOS, perimenopause and hormone dysregulation, and so on.
Get outside and move
We’re going to link the positive benefits of being outdoors in the sunshine (even on cloudy days) and moving your body. Natural sunlight is the best way to get your body making and metabolizing Vitamin D, an essential vitamin. Yes, you can get it via fortified milk and food products, but our bodies were actually designed to collaborate with Mother Nature and her daily doses of sunlight to get adequate amounts.
Being outside is also beneficial for the brain, enhancing moods and diminishing depression and anxiety. As long as you’re out there, hitting the pavement or the trails is a great way to maintain your target weight, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen those bones and muscles. Plus, exercising outside is as easy as stepping outside the door; getting to the gym requires far more effort.
Practice Stress Management Every Day
We recently posted, Simple Changes to Reduce Stress, because stress is detrimental to mental health – and it also makes it more difficult to sleep and eat well. So by managing stress, you have a better leg up on all of the other physical and emotional factors that affect mental health.
Take a deep breath, give yourself a big squeeze, and start taking the steps necessary to support good mental health. Your body and spirit will thank you for it.
Interested in working with women’s healthcare providers who focus on the whole body experience? Schedule an appointment with us here at Overlake OB/GYN.