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Sep 06

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Holistic Approach to Mental Health: for Your Body

Part 2 in a 4 part series focusing on a holistic approach to mental health. This week's focuses is on the body including walking, yoga, stretching & more!Holistic Approach to Mental Health: for Your Body

Last week we discussed part 1 of this 4 part series which was called Holistic Mental Approach to Mental Health: for Your Mind. The focus this week is things you can do for your body to help promote holistic mental health! Watch for the next 2 parts of this series in the coming weeks!

Nutrition 

Nutrition is an obvious foundation for a healthy body. Science is showing us how excellent nutrition can increase mental well-being as well. Often mental distress can be linked to a nutritional deficiency. Sugar, for example, is known to be more addictive than cocaine and is responsible for an emotional rollercoaster of sudden highs followed by intense lows as the body attempts to regulate itself in the aftermath of a sudden spike in blood sugar.

A lack of the B vitamins is known to be associated with depression and low mood. Consulting a holistic nutritionist is a good choice.

 

Exercise

Scientific findings have shown that exercise improves mental health. Regular aerobic activity can help combat the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The overwhelming evidence of research today suggests that exercise is crucial in ensuring successful brain functioning. Walking at a brisk pace is a good, moderate form of exercise, which helps increase bone density.

What’s more, it costs you nothing and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Start at 10 minutes and build it up gradually until you are comfortably able to walk for 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week. You can keep increasing your limit over time.

Weight training or resistance training builds muscle strength and since your body uses protein to build muscle, this, in turn, can help boost your metabolism, since you will burn more calories as your muscle mass increases.

 

Stretching

A simple daily routine of stretching will help keep your body supple, will increase your flexibility and therefore reduce your risk of injury. Stretching helps you relax and reduce tension. It increases the blood flow to your muscles and cartilage. Because stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, more oxygen and nutrients are sent to the muscles via the bloodstream.

Therefore, if you feel sluggish or lethargic, stretching can act as a great “pick me up.” Increased blood circulation will help promote cell growth and organ function. The heart rate will lower since it doesn’t have to work as hard; blood pressure will become more consistent.

 

Yoga

Yoga is very helpful in calming the mind. In fact, one of the main aims of the stretching poses of yoga is to prepare the mind for meditation. Yoga uses rhythmic breathing in synchronization with each movement. This has the effect of slowing the mind down.

Studies have found that those who practice yoga regularly have higher levels of the hormone GABA in their bodies. People with low levels of GABA are more prone to depression and anxiety and the constantly whirling soup of negative thoughts associated with both of these disorders.

 

Nature Walks

The benefits to your mental health of walking in nature are many, including decreased symptoms of depression and negative mood, stress reduction and an increase in well-being. Nature walks may put you into a meditative state. It is helpful if you join a group to do your nature walks as this too has positive repercussions on your mental health and feelings of well-being.

 

Massage

There are a number of different kinds of massage and studies show all of them to have powerful healing powers, including stress reduction, release of muscle tension, boosting relaxation, elevating mood, and stimulating circulation of lymph and blood. Thus, massage can be beneficial for improving cardiovascular health, may be good for depression, and is known to detoxify the system. With massage, you need regular sessions to experience ongoing results and to greatly boost your mental wellness.

 

Be sure to come back next week when we continue the holistic approach to mental health series with a focus on spirit! 
 

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