5 Tactics to Improve Your Mental Health

If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us that mental health cannot, and should not, be ignored.  You are probably familiar with the myriad of physical benefits of training and taking care of yourself.

Let’s examine some of the not so physical benefits of eating right and working out and how to improve your mental health.

1 – EDSO

EDSO is made up of four different hormones:  endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.  These are some of your “feel good” hormones!

Depending on your workout environment, ie:  if you workout alone, with someone else, or in a group, you are releasing each of these hormones.

Endorphins are released to block the physical pain and discomfort of the training itself.  Dopamine is released when you finish your sets and/or your workout.  Serotonin and oxytocin are released if you are working out and accomplishing things with a training partner, a group, or a personal trainer.

The point is this:  if you’ve ever worked out and you have felt like you were in a much better headspace when you were done, this should not be a surprise.  You have a cascade of hormones in your corner to help out!

2 – Sleep

If there is a surefire way to make things harder for yourself:  lack of sleep falls in this category.  There are multiple types of stress (ex:  nutritional, environmental, physical, social, etc.) and they all get deposited into the same chemical bucket.  You need the chance to clear as much of this out as you can for the sake of your mental health.

Sleep is the key.

Without it, you are likely starting with your bucket half-full in the worst way.

Tips for better sleep:

  • Temperature
    • You want the temperature in your room to be somewhere in the mid-60’s.  You don’t want to ruin your sleep because you’re too hot and sweating in your sleep
  • Pitch Black
    • Whether you eyes are open or not, your body picks up on ambient light and will have the tendency to lower, or shut down, your melatonin production
    • Translation?  Your room should be pitch black so you don’t ruin your sleep
    • Blackout curtains?  Cell phone light gone?  Sharpie over that little red light on the TV in your room?  All a resounding yes!
  • Ambient Sound
    • I like to have a fan going in my room as this serves the dual purpose of making noise and keeping it cool in the room
  • Read
    • No screen time
    • Find yourself a fiction book you like and start reading
  • Take a Hot Shower
    • Your body is a homeostatic environment so when you take a hot shower, your body cools itself
    • Guess what else needs to happen to get to, and stay, asleep?  Your body temperature needs to drop a bit

Try one of these, if not all of them.  Thank me later.

3 – Inflammatory Foods

In our second tactic to improve our mental health, we mentioned nutritional stress.  Well, as chronic inflammation is responsible for a whole host of problems, taking control of pro-inflammatory foods will be a big step in achieving better mental health.

As I mentioned above, eating things which cause you general inflammation also raise your baseline level of stress.

Make it your goal to increase your intake of real foods (fruits, veggies, homemade meals, etc) so you are increasing your stress fighting micronutrients.  You may also find you lose weight with this type of eating as well.


4 – Meditation or Breathing

This could be religious but it doesn’t have to be.

This could be spiritual but it doesn’t have to be.

Sometimes spending time in silence and focusing on your breath is just that:  spending time away from the noise and notifications of the world around you so you can focus on your breath.

It’s certainly possible this turns into a short nap and that is fine too!

There are any number of apps for guided meditations but it could also be something as simple as sitting in a room, by yourself, and in silence for 10 minutes.

No matter how you do this, you need to do this.  Take your constant ‘fight or flight’ and turn it into ‘relaxation.’

5 – Seek Support For Your Mental Health

This could come in the form of a community to workout with.  Maybe this is a training partner or a personal trainer.  Or, maybe this is some sort of mental health professional.

No matter what, humans are pack animals and need the support of one another.  This is likely why 2020 was such a dumpster fire for everyone and their mental health.  It was suggested you didn’t spend time with anyone, but If you need people for help, and you aren’t around those people, where is your headspace going to be?

Remember that you don’t need to do this on your own.  In fact, you shouldn’t do this on your own.  Find someone to give you the support, the encouragement, and the listening ear that you need.

Action For Your Mental Health

My goal with this, and every blog, is to give you the tools and tactics to take action today.  Not next Monday, not next month, and definitely not on New Years.  Take action today.

Pick something on this list to try out and see what it does for your mental health… today.

And remember, ask for help if you believe you need help!

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