Healthy Mind - New Project 1

Four Health Corners
Four Health Corners
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A healthy mind is central to overall health.  It requires sizeable levels of emotional, psychological and social well-being. The mind and body work in unison and influence how we deal with stress, relate to others and make choices. A healthy mind requires feeling good about ourselves and our lives, accepting what we cannot change and moving through life with a sense of autonomy, purpose and wonder.

How can we help foster a healthy mind? Healthy eating, exercise, stress reduction, a healthy environment and knowing when to get help.
Research suggests there is a link between diet and mental health.  There is an emerging field called nutritional psychiatry emphasizing how diet and nutrition affect people’s mental well being.

One reason food choices affect our mental health is that our gut and its trillions of microbes communicate with the brain to help regulate our moods and emotions.

This relationship is known as the gut-brain axis.  A nutrient dense diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes is known to lower depressive symptoms and improve our mood.

Exercise is shown to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Exercise promotes changes in the brain that stimulate neural growth, decrease inflammation and establishes new patterns that foster feelings of well-being. It also helps by releasing endorphins, improving our confidence and it gives us a healthy coping strategy.

Stress reduction can also improve our mental well-being. We need to look at our relationship with stress and determine if we are doing enough to better deal with life’s stressors.

There are of course many ways to decrease stress, such as going on vacation, going for a walk in the forest, listening to relaxing music, yoga and so on. That said, unless we are addressing our own reactivity to stressful situations and paying attention to the thoughts that perpetuate stress, going for a walk may only be a temporary reprieve.

Mindfulness helps us become aware of what is happening in the mind and body. When we shine the light of awareness on our inner world, we are in a better position to break the cycle of reactivity. This cycle is often based on experiences we have had in the past and may not have anything to do with what is happening in this moment. Our stress reaction may have more to do with what happened when we were bullied at school, for example, than what is actually happening to in this moment. Unobserved thoughts and reactions can cause tremendous suffering.

Mindfulness meditation is proven to help with stress, but we may need additional help and support. Therapy can be extremely helpful. We could all benefit from having a good therapist to help us work through difficult things in our lives.
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