May is Mental Health Awareness Month and each week we have been sharing tips and strategies to raise awareness and work together to #breakthestigma of mental health (view our weekly videos on all our social media platforms). This month we are discussing, Meditation & Gratitude, Nutrition, and the Benefits of Exercise & Movement, plus an interview with Mary Ellen Alward, from CLAC as she helps advocate for Mental Health support in the workplace.
Building a mindfulness and gratitude practice while eating a nutritious diet of healthy foods, directly impacts your overall health and wellbeing. The word “practice” is the key word to notice here. These simple yet challenging practices take time to build. Sometimes even years! Be kind and gentle with yourself as you find what works best for you.
Notice how you feel both physically and mentally after meditating and eating well. Do you feel calmer? Are you sleeping better? Do you have more energy? Are you able to handle one of life’s challenges more easily? Over time, you will begin to notice how much you look forward to meditating because of the positive effects. The same goes for eating a well-balanced diet.
Both Lisa and Jenn have had to navigate lifelong medical illnesses, Lisa with diabetes and Jenn with a heart condition. One of the many ways they manage their active lifestyles is by being mindful of what they put into their bodies with nutrition. By spending time meal planning, shopping, and prepping food they have both seen an improvement in their overall health and mood. Foods high in fat, sugar, or caffeine can have an impact on mental health-shifting anxiety levels, decision-making, and moods. Staying committed and changing the narrative with food helps maintain overall health. Remember, progress over perfection. Keep on practicing. You’ll be glad you did!
Exercise and Movement
Exercise is not just about aerobic activity and muscle size- although those are added benefits. Most people exercise for their overall well-being and mental health.
Regular exercise can have a profound effect on mild to moderate depression, anxiety, ADHD, and stress levels, it can improve sleep and memory, and boost overall mood.
Exercise and movement are powerful tools that can be used to promote changes in the brain which include neural growth, reduce inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.
Just a short walk can have tremendous benefits for mental health and excessive overthinking if you can stay present.
Some helpful hints are:
notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground
the rhythm of your breathing
the feeling of the wind on your skin
By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you'll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.
Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.
Even when you know that exercise will help you feel better, taking that first step is still easier said than done. Obstacles to exercising are very real—particularly when you’re also struggling with a mental health issue that has you feeling worn out and stuck.
It may be difficult to start a new habit of movement when struggling with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or stress. Which is why we practice the S/S rule of new habits, short and simple. Start with 3-5 minutes of movement, like walking or stretching, remembering that any movement is better than no movement.
There are numerous benefits to making exercise a great part of your day. You don’t have to spend long hours at the gym or do workouts that hurt you, you can be creative and do activities you truly enjoy, by yourself or with others. Either way, movement, and exercise will help you start to feel better and improve your overall health.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Stay tuned this month on our social media platforms as we interview Mary Ellen Alward about bringing awareness to mental health support in the workplace. You can read her article here: What Mental Health Is and What It Isn't
How can you cultivate resiliency in your personal and professional life?
Let's schedule a discovery call to explore how we can support your resiliency growth and development.
Jenn and Lisa