Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and it’s important to understand the connection between physical health and mental health. Everyone experiences times of difficulty and stress in their lives and developing a healthy lifestyle and habits can help prevent or improve mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as other physical ailments like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems that can be related to stress and other mental conditions.
Millions of people from across the world are affected by mental health conditions, and in the United States, the month of May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month. This observance began in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization and has been reaching millions of people through media, local events and screenings. Every year, a new theme is decided and other organizations interested in mental health use this theme to conduct activities and awareness in their communities.
This May, in 2018, the Mental Health Awareness Month theme is Fitness #4Mind4Body. The correlation between the mind and body is evident when it comes to mental health. Establishing healthy habits in regards to exercise, diet, sleeping and how you manage stress are key factors in establishing a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically.
Andy Roman, a Psychotherapist at Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI), works with guests at HHI, helping them to establish positive tools that they can incorporate into their lives to foster mental health. He suggests that the hallmark of mental health is being in touch with one’s own self and also connecting with other people by developing healthy habits like journaling, remembering dreams and writing them down and by having an intimate conversation with someone about how you are doing. Andy also emphasizes the importance of being in touch with nature so that we can be reminded that we are all interconnected and this connection between people and nature is the common thread for us. Understanding this connection is paramount to developing a healthy mental attitude and perspective on life.
Antony Chatham, also a Pyschotherapist at HHI, suggests the importance of creating joy in our lives. He shared “Once we smile, we receive many smiles in return around us. So even if sometimes you have to fake it, it is worth it, because eventually you will make it.” Antony emphasizes the major roll that we play in our own happiness and mental awareness. He suggests learning how to get into ourselves to create that joy and happiness by developing certain mental practices like meditation, which will bring the body into a relaxed state and increase self-awareness. Developing a daily meditation practice can also help to increase happiness and acceptance of self, help control anxiety and reduce stress and may even help fight addictions.
Improving your physical wellbeing is one of the best ways to support your mental health and by establishing positive daily habits, you’ll have an easier time maintaining good mental habits because your body will have a strong and resilient foundation.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Exercise daily. Daily exercise produces stress relieving hormones naturally, improving overall health.
- Eat well. Eating a plant-based diet with a variety of vegetables, leafy greens, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes and fruit will help stabilize energy levels and mood.
- Get enough sleep. Adults generally need between seven and nine hours of sleep. It’s also important to avoid using computers, TV and smartphones before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. These substances can actually worsen stress and mental health.
- Practice relaxation exercises. A daily meditation practice can help reduce stress and provide self-awareness and compassion toward others.
Almost everyone in our society experiences stress and mental weakness at certain points in their lives. Establishing positive self-help techniques and habits will help to ensure that these stressful times will also pass and we can trust and believe that we will get through these tough times. And remember that you are not alone! Reaching out to a friend or family member to share your struggles and help encourage you along your path to health and wellness will help you feel connected and encouraged. Empower yourself to make the changes and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help along the way.
If you are interested in participating in Mental Health Awareness Month Fitness #4Mind4Body, then please post your healthy habits and self-care techniques using #4mind4body and also include #hippocratesinst so we can follow!
Andy Roman is a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist. He has served as a mind/body psychotherapist at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida since December of 1990, using and teaching radical feeling-centered, body- focused awareness tools to help Hippocrates guests discover the essence of their problems and arrive at solutions. He conducts private sessions with individuals, couples and families, and facilitates the ongoing Healing Circle therapy and support group. Andy has also been a contributing author to the Encyclopedia of Complementary Health Practices and The Cancer Report: The Latest Research; How Thousands Are Achieving Permanent Recoveries in 2005.
Antony Chatham, M. Phil., M.Th., MSW, LCSW, is a Florida Licensed Psychotherapist and a member of the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists, who has worked with Hippocrates Health Institute guests since 1994. He draws his inspiration from Eastern and Western holistic traditions of healing, and integrates the knowledge and experience from psychology, philosophy, and theology/ spirituality, in which he holds Master’s degrees and/or doctoral course work. He has 12 years of pastoral counseling experience, over 20 years of mental health counseling experience, and uses alternative modalities like guided imagery, hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and regression in his work. He has 12 years of pastoral counseling experience, over 20 years of mental health counseling experience, and uses alternative modalities like guided imagery, hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and regression in his work. His popular lectures at Hippocrates Health Institute are: “Principles of Holistic Healing,” “Quantum Concepts of Health and Healing,” and “Stress and its Implications for Health and Healing.”
Article by Andrea Nison