I think we can all agree that mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being. I think we can also agree that when it comes to society’s mental health as a whole, we’re failing ourselves miserably. With so many challenges this year, we haven’t made mental health a priority. According to Mental Health First Aid, in June 2020, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use; one in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year; and the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. are anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million adults.
Social Isolation, fear of illness, financial worry, the grieving of losses have caused widespread devastation for our mental health. These challenges make it more important now than ever to check in with ourselves and the ones we love.
Break the Cycle
When your mental health isn’t being taken care of, you can have that feeling every day and not just physically but emotionally and mentally. You might feel as though something isn’t working right, and in general, you feel “off.” One day like this can turn into weeks or even months but this cycle can be broken.
The lesson learned is don’t wait until it’s too late. Make mental health your priority. If you’re feeling in a “funk” on the regular, don’t ignore it. Pay attention to the signs and start nurturing yourself by taking better care of yourself. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Limit Meda Exposure
Obviously, we all want to stay informed but we are being bombarded with fear tactics in every direction all day long. Turn off your TVs and limit your online news feed. I don’t watch any news and haven’t for years, even before this pandemic. News can be a huge downer. I choose when and how I obtain relevant information when necessary. Try picking a dedicated time to seek out the information you need, for some that can be once a week and maybe longer for others.
And while we’re on the subject, social media should absolutely get a “time out” every once and awhile. You can allow yourself a little time to catch up but beware of this mindless time suck, and if you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through story after story, pump the brakes. You may not realize it but social media can and will drastically affect your mood.
Let the Sunshine In
Vitamin D works wonders for depression. It’s no coincidence that when you have low levels of Vitamin D, you feel down. Your body absorbs Vitamin D through sun exposure which is great in the summer months but can be challenging in the wintertime. Good alternative sources of Vitamin D are available through supplements and certain foods such as mushrooms, oily fish like tuna and salmon, and egg yolks. To keep your levels up, try taking a daily walk through the park, riding your bike along the beach or just relaxing in your backyard.
Eat with Purpose
You’re probably already keenly aware of this but your eating habits greatly affect your mood. I tell my patients, “eat well to be well.” Choose foods that are nourishing, plentiful and purposeful. What does that mean? It means taking in more greens and plant-based foods that are chock-full of vitamins and minerals. By eating these types of foods, you’re eating not only to feel satisfied but you’re eating with purpose. Mindless munching can get you into trouble. Sugar, soda and loads of carbohydrates tax your body and make it work harder to find the good stuff in what you eat. Make life easier on yourself by eating with intention, and your mindset will improve.
There are so many reasons to make tea time a routine in your day. The gentle process of steaming the water, filling your mug, and feeling the warmth from the cup in your hands as a practice is soothing. Brew a simple mixture of Chinese herbs or drop in a sachet of chamomile or mint leaf tea, then deeply inhale. The scented steam will fill your nose and senses with a sense of calm, and with the first sip, your shoulders will fall. For real.
But don’t be fooled. This ritual takes time to feel the full effects. You can’t expect to run through your kitchen, grab a hot cup, and receive the same sensations. I want for you to focus on the process of tea time and the motions that will bring you calm. Try it.
Talk About Your Feelings
It doesn’t matter who you choose, find someone to talk about how you feel. Find a friend, family member, your partner, or even a therapist. It is vital that you work through your emotions. Keeping everything bottled up does a number on your mental health. Pent up emotions will eventually turn into physical disease if you let them go on too long.
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
For many of my patients, this has proven to be a magical combination that provides safe effective treatments for mental health issues. Regular acupuncture sessions will help manage stress and maintain emotional stability, while a prescription of Chinese herbs offers a natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When used together, acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy simultaneously help your body regain balance and strengthen its resistance to further maladies. My patients tell me they have no idea what they would do without this dynamic duo during these chaotic times, and I feel honored to have been able to help.
Even as we practice safe social distancing, your health does not need to suffer. Acupuncture is considered an essential service and I provide in-person treatments following the appropriate safety protocols. I also offer virtual services so we can collaborate and decide together the best course of action for your treatment.
Ready to begin your wellness journey?
Improve your mental health today