If you are wondering how to improve your mental health without medication, you’ve landed on the right article. I’ll be sharing 7 habits to improve mental health that you can start incorporating into your daily routine today.
Mental health is often overlooked when we talk about our health. Yet your mental health IS your health. Your thoughts and emotions impact your physical health and vice versa. If you can naturally improve your mental health, you’ll begin to see those changes in your physical health as well.
So, how exactly can you improve your mental well-being without going straight to medications?
First off, I want to say that medications are necessary in some situations. I don’t advise you to stop your medications unless you and your provider agree it is recommended. It’s essential to work with your healthcare provider on your dosage and prescription.
If you want to go a more natural route, I recommend connecting with a Functional Medicine provider who has your best interest in treating the root cause rather than covering up the symptoms.
Sometimes medications are needed just during your healing phase while you get your body back into a balanced state, and then you may be able to come off of them in the future. Stay positive and know that fixing your mental health naturally won’t happen overnight, but it will be so worth it once you feel alive and like yourself again.
If you want to boost your mental health, you need to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine and stick with them. It’s all about consistency here. At first, it may seem hard, useless, and annoying. But I promise if you stick with them, they will make a difference in your mental health.
Nourish Your Body With Organic Whole Foods
Get Out In the Sunshine
Move That Incredible Body of Yours
Address any Gut issues
Get to Bed Before 10 PM
Prioritize Connections & Relationships
When you eat healthily, you feel healthy. It’s common to get stuck in this cycle of feeling crappy and then reaching for sweets or processed comfort foods. Those foods make you feel sick, sluggish, and bloated, making you feel worse. This cycle continues, causing damage in the long term to your physical and mental health.
What you want to do is focus on fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods…even when you are stressed! Actually, when you are stressed out, your body rapidly uses up more vitamins and minerals to respond to the stress.
This depletes your body of vital nutrients, like Vitamin C, B, E, and the minerals selenium, zinc, and magnesium, leaving you more prone to suboptimal functioning. Your body won’t have the ability to produce and regulate needed hormones and neurotransmitters. This can lead to even more stress, anxiety, and depression.
Keep your home filled with healthy options. That way if you want to stress eat, you can stress eat some healthy snacks. If you’re being honest with yourself and know that healthy meals are a struggle, I recommend getting a subscription to Sun Basket meal kit delivery service. Even if this is for a couple of weeks during the month, it can give you a break from trying to think of healthy meals AND can give you some meal recipe ideas that you can create in the future by yourself.
Sunshine makes everyone feel a little better, right? Not only that but some fresh air and getting in nature can help boost your mood quite quickly. When you’re in a funk, I know it’s hard even to want to get off the couch. But try your hardest to get outside, even if it’s to go for a stroll or sit on a park bench.
Spending time in nature, even for 30 minutes a day, is related to lower rates of depression and lower rates of high blood pressure. This can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, getting your body out of the fight-and-flight state that it may very well be in if you are experiencing anxiety and stress.
Aerobic exercises, like jogging, swimming, gardening, biking, walking, and, dancing have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. This is because endorphins are released when you participate in movement!
Moving your body in nature is even better! One study showed that a 90-min walk in nature reduced the level of negative repetitive thoughts linked with mental health problems and reduced the activities of the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is linked with mental health issues.
While you want to focus on consuming organic, whole foods as the base of all your meals, you also want to prioritize gut-healing foods. Since the majority of your serotonin (aka happy hormone) is located in your gut, you want to make sure you are taking care of it. Numerous studies have shown the connection between gut health and mental health. Here are some of my favorite go-to gut-healing foods. You can also read my previous blog on how to improve your gut with the 5R Protocol.
Bone Broth (Use code TAYLORDUKES for 15% OFF)
Garlic & Onions
AVOID gut-inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, corn, soy, & sugar
So many experts are now referring to the gut as the second brain, as the majority of neurotransmitters are actually made there, not the brain. So, if you have dysbiosis, candida/fungal overgrowth, low beneficial bacteria, parasites, digestion issues, and more, you will want to address that by getting a stool test and a personalized protocol.
Every day before you go to bed, write down (or tell your spouse/friend) 5 things you are grateful for. Focusing on the positives of each day will help your mind start to find the good in situations. This can significantly help your outlook on life and therefore boost your mental health. Studies show that when people feel more grateful, the negative effects of stress are weaker compared to when people don’t feel as grateful.
These activities to improve mental health, including meditation, can even help rewire your brain to help you calm your mind when you find yourself getting anxious or worked up in unavoidable stressful situations.
Simply put… when we get tired, we get cranky – Just like our toddlers, if we are being honest! When your body is sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to have meltdowns, get in a mood and not have patience. But the thing is, mental health issues are very likely to be associated with sleep issues. Again, this cycle of poor sleep and mental health problems feeds into itself.
One way to stop this cycle of declining mental health is to prioritize getting high-quality sleep. It’s common to stay up late at night watching television shows and our favorite Netflix series. But, what our body really needs is a calming routine without blue lights.
You want to get to bed before 10 pm to get a full 8 hours of sleep. If you are having sleep issues, it’s even more important to give your body that extra time to fall asleep and rest. Check out my blog on Healthy Sleep Habits for better sleep!
Use blue light blockers after 4 pm
Avoid screen time 2 hours before bedtime
Get in bed by 9:30/10 pm!
Wake up and get in the natural sunlight ASAP and avoid bright lights after the sunsets.
Taking time to spend with friends and family that you love can have significant benefits for your mental health. Take time with those wild loved ones who make you belly laugh and the loved ones who show empathy and always know just what to say.
Even connecting with other people who may be going through the same struggles as you can be life-changing. Sometimes just knowing you aren’t alone can lighten your mental load and give you relief.
The benefits of social connections and healthy mental well-being are numerous. There are countless studies showing how true connections and relationships can lower rates of anxiety and depression, enhance self-esteem, promote greater empathy, and lead to more trusting and cooperative relationships.
Reach out to your loved one. Whether it’s to meet up in person for a coffee date or to chat over the phone, it’s a vital habit to prioritize these relationships.
Incorporating habits to improve mental health doesn’t have to be hard or unrealistic. You can improve your mental health without medication, but it will take some time to build up those healthy habits. Taking one day at a time and one habit at a time can lead to big improvements in the long run.
If you want to improve your mental health naturally, these healthy habits are the first step. However, working with a Functional Medicine provider can expedite your healing and get you feeling like yourself again.
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