Welcome back to my four-part blog series on mental health. So far we’ve talked about anxiety and depression, what they are and their root causes.
In this blog post, the third in the series, I want to offer you some tools for prevention, so I’ll be sharing a few resources that I use personally and recommend to my patients to prevent anxiety and depression and keep our minds healthy.
Before we dive in, I want to remind you that while these resources can be helpful in preventing bouts of anxiety and depression, they are not meant to replace medical care. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or depression, reach out to a health practitioner for guidance and support.
Therapies and Practices for a Healthy Mind
Set aside time for yourself
Life is busy, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily living. Working, parenting, prioritizing everyone and everything except ourselves.
All of those things are important, but so are you. It’s really important to set aside time to be with yourself if you want to maintain and healthy mind and prevent anxiety and depression.
Get support from a professional that you trust
If you’ve experienced anxiety and depression, you know that they sometimes cause us to ruminate or continuously think about people, places, or situations that are upsetting. To combat this, it can be helpful to have professional support – someone to help you put things into perspective and offer tools for personal assessment and reflection.
I personally see a life coach twice a month. Having someone to check in with and to offer perspective is essential to my mental wellness and something that helps me prevent anxiety and depression in my life.
Working with my life coach has helped me to gain clarity around my life and my feelings. He helps me to assess where I am with everything in my life and provides tools to assist me in daily self-reflection.
There is a lot of guidance that happens in his office, but whether you see a life coach, therapist, or another health practitioner, there is also work to be done on your own.
Running a busy (and growing) practice can be overwhelming for me at times, so setting aside time to breathe and check in with myself is a non-negotiable daily practice for me.
I sit for 20 minutes twice a day in a quiet space breathing and connecting with myself. I notice how I’m doing and what I’m feeling in my body.
Our bodies are incredibly wise, so setting aside time to check in and notice what’s present for you in your body can be really telling.
I encourage you to add this to your daily routine to help prevent anxiety and depression, make time to connect with your breath and your body. If 20 minutes feels like a challenge to fit into your schedule, start with 5 minutes.
No matter how much time you decide to incorporate, make sure it’s quality time. Get intimate with yourself and cultivate a relationship with your body. Take the time to pay attention to what you’re feeling, sit with your emotions, observe them without becoming attached. Most importantly, hold space for yourself in the same way you hold space for others.
Sleep is essential for a healthy mind
Your mind is a beautiful machine that works all day to keep your body functioning and well. It also produces the neurotransmitters you need to keep your mind healthy, like serotonin and dopamine. Without adequate sleep this process can become impaired, leading to bouts of anxiety and depression.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, a supplement like Mood 5-HTP may help. I recommend this often to patients as it supports the body in producing the serotonin you need at night for more restful sleep.
Connect with Nature
Connecting with nature is one of my favorite ways to reconnect with myself when I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I especially love spending time at the beach.
Recently, I spent four days at the beach to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Initially, I thought I was going to use some of the time to catch up on work, but once I got there, I realized that I really needed a break. I needed time to reset after weeks of working non-stop, so I decided to put work aside to make time for self-care and rest.
I forced myself to pause, which created time and space for me to be more present and connect with nature more intentionally. Spending my time communing with nature, instead of working, helped me to feel more grounded and energized. I encourage you to do the same.
Step away from your computer or your phone and go outside.
Go to the mountains or the water, whatever terrain makes you feel most at peace. Make time to take off your shoes, feel the earth, and breathe in the fresh air. Being outdoors, connecting with nature, supports the body’s natural cleansing process. It can also help your body reset and find its natural rhythm. All of these things are important as you work to maintain a healthy mind and body (1).
Exercise and a healthy mind are directly linked. When you exercise the blood flow to areas of the brain, like the hippocampus, is increased, resulting in an increase in brain volume as well as an increase in the production of the neurochemicals that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections (2). Research has shown that it can also reduce anxiety and depression (3).
Part of my daily movement routine is walking for at least 20 minutes, but find the type of exercise that works for you and incorporate it into your wellness routine at least three times each week.
Take supplements to ensure proper nutrition
Another way you can prevent anxiety and depression is to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need on a daily basis to support the health of your brain and body. These are the supplements I take and recommend to my patients:
- Methylated B Vitamins help to improve mood (4).
- Magnesium to help calm and soothe your brain.
- Fish oil for overall brain health and cognitive functioning.
- A high quality probiotic to support the production of neurochemicals that are produced in the gut, your second brain.
As you can see, there are several things you can do to prevent anxiety and depression and maintain a healthy mind. Many of them are easier to incorporate than you think!
In the next (and last) blog post in this series on mental health, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the connection between spirituality and mental health. It’s a topic that isn’t spoken about as often as it should be, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for what’s to come.