World Mental Health Day: 9 Ways to Rethink Your Health and Influence Your Mental Health

Over the weekend I volunteered for a local community-based expo called Rethink Your World. I had a blast with Seeds Newcastle that organised the expo and I have learned a great deal about how physical, mental and spiritual health intertwine and support each other for optimum health.

I took notes. Mostly because I selfishly want to remember the main points to incorporate into my own mental health and general wellness journey.

Here are just a few ideas to help you toward optimum overall wellbeing that I thought were really helpful considering today is World Mental Health Day. The nine points listed here come from a book written by National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones. You can read more about it here but the basic principals are ahead.

Move Naturally

Woman walking on the beach.jpeg

Be active without thinking about it at least 5 times a week for 30-60 minutes each time. You can do activities that incorporate aerobic, balancing, and muscle strengthening sessions. Some practical ways to do this are:

  • Inconvenience yourself – park further away, place office equipment out of reach
  • Have fun with friends, and even by yourself
  • Walk. Anywhere!
  • Make a date with your loved ones that involves some physical activity such as a walk, bike ride, swim or other physical activities.
  • Plant a garden

 

Movement is an opportunity not an inconvenience

Hara Hachi bu

Vegetarian meal.jpegThis Japanese phrase simply means

– eat to about 80% full.

The amount eaten is influenced by our circumstances and environment so:

  • Choose good food to eat. Lower calories
  • Serve and store
    • don’t lay it out on the table or bench but put it away before eating
  • Make food look bigger and use smaller vessels
  • Eat more slowly
  • Focus on food and eat earlier
  • But smaller packages

Eating with intention and consideration assists natural weight loss and this means lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Plant Slant

salad-bowl

Major on plant-based meals. Restricting meat and processed food intake may help us live longer so avoid (or at least reduce) meat and processed foods.

A plant-based diet provides protein and calcium. Eat 4-6 serves daily. To do this try:

  • add beans, whole grains, and larger quantities of garden veg
  • restricting meat to a few times a month
  • increase nuts in  the diet but keep an eye on quantity
  • try tofu which is low cal, high protein and has no cholesterol

Under the right conditions the body can heal itself – Dr Michael Gregor

Grapes of life

Consuming dark grapes and other foods that contain polyphenols help to reduce stress and support our need for a higher content of antioxidants in our daily diet. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Drink grape-based beverages in moderation, especially fermented ones
  • Drink beverages with high polyphenol content – dark grape juice, herbal teas
  • Have a time out happy hour
  • Don’t go overboard. Take it easy

A photo by Maja Petric. unsplash.com/photos/vGQ49l9I4EEOne way to incorporate more food and liquid into our diet that contains a higher polyphenol content is to create an ‘event’ – spending time together and enjoying a beverage at the end of the day increases our connection with others, slows down our physical activity and encourages conversation and feel good emotions to flow.

A 2010 Heart Foundation review found that studies do not support chocolate or coffee to be high in antioxidants like purported. So stick with grapes 🙂

Purpose Now

Take time to see the bigger picture. Having a purpose may help to increase our life expectancy so think about these questions and take a little time to connect them with your life:

  • What is my purpose?
  • Why do I get up in the morning?
  • Do my activities and obligations align with the parameters of my purpose?

volunteer

Some cool things to do that line up with purpose are to:

  • Craft a personal mission statement
  • Find a partner
    • someone to be accountable to and be encouraged by
  • Learn something new
  • Get focussed

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it. – Joshua Becker

Down Shift

sitting-on-a-bench-in-front-of-sand-dunesTaking time out to decompress (I like to call it ‘defragging’!) helps to create a greater sense of well-being and reduces chronic inflammation and adrenal fatigue. A few ways you can down shift are to:

  • Take time to relieve stress
    • Set aside time intentionally to rest and commune with others
    • Reduce the ‘noise’ – devices, tv, phones etc. create time to just let our mind wander
  • Be early to things
  • Set aside quiet time to journal, reflect and contect with your life and with God

You say ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. – Charles Spurgeon

Belonging

Belonging.jpegNo matter the denomination  or community, attending weekly services could add 4-14 years to your life. People who pay attention to the spiritual side of life have decreased rates of suicide and physical disease.

  • Participate in a spiritual community
  • Be involved and just go
  • Attendance doesn’t have the same impact as active involvement, so get involved and volunteer in an area that inspires you

Loved ones first

time-together

When we prioritise family we create an environment where love and care are naturally represented, where children are taught how to treat others and where strong ties between generations are developed. We do this by:

  • Making family priority
  • Teaching children how to love and care by leading by example
  • Getting closer:
    • establish rituals
    • create a family shrine and put family first – history, memories and belonging is rekindled and increases family bonding
  • Intentionally spend time together and get to know each other

The right tribe

Community.jpegWe are strongly influenced by the people we spend the most time with so it goes to say that choosing who we ‘do life’ with is vital to our own personal health, wellbeing and growth.

  • Be surrounded by those who share the same values
  • Choose carefully who we are impacted by
  • Be social because this kind of connectedness impacts longevity

So this was just from one session with Dr. Russell Ing, who spoke about taking a more holistic approach to living well. He used the phrase lifestyle medicine and I found it to be really encouraging and fascinating.

I hope that you can take this list and incorporate a few of the ideas here into your daily schedule. Even just starting with one or two will make a difference. It certainly is in my life!

 

May you be blessed today and always,

Miriam

 

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