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How Sleep, Exercise, and Nutrition Can Rescue Your Mental Health

After helping many people thrive during unforeseen circumstance, I'm sharing the exact ways you can rescue your mental health while facing stress. By the end of this blog post you will have a sense of how the three pillars of health can help you stand up to stress.


Often referred to as the three pillars of health, sleep, exercise, and nutrition make up the foundation of our physical and mental wellbeing. Paying attention to these three areas and making improvements, however small, can have exponential benefits.


During unchangeable life circumstances it can be empowering to take stock of what you have control of. Routine provides you with consistency and clear expectations. Unforeseen and unexpected circumstances interrupt routine. More than likely, reminding you that things happen no matter how much you plan. It's common for this to lead to feelings and thoughts of anxiety as well as frustration as you go toe to toe with loss of control.

The notion of control is empowering yet limited. You can’t control what other people do. You can’t control many life circumstances. So, what can you control? You can control what you pay attention to and put energy into. Sensations, images, feelings and thoughts (SIFTs) you focus on and how little or how much you participate in improving your sleep, exercise, and nutrition. This blog post focuses on the latter.


Sleep


Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep!!!! Maybe you’re staying up late and binge-watching the latest Netflix drama or sleeping in by a few hours each day. You may want to rethink this behavior and set a sleep schedule. You’ll find that keeping a sleep schedule that reduces the risk of sleeping too much or too little will improve your concentration, reduce your irritability, and increase your emotional stamina. Click here for useful sleep hygiene tips that can help you get started.


Exercise

Getting up and moving your body lifts your mood because moving your body produces endorphins that reduce pain, aides sleep, and decreases stress. There are many resources on the internet to access free at home workouts. No pressure on following an exercise program though. Choose movement that works for you given whatever physical limitations you are managing. Remember, this is about small changes that are sustainable. Read about the mental health benefits of exercise here.


Nutrition

It is not uncommon to forget to eat or over eat during stressful times. If you aren't getting proper nutrition you probably feel fatigued and irritable. Maintaining a healthy diet promotes bacteria in the gut that helps “feel good” signals get to the brain. It's about small changes like trading pasta for whole grain versions or reaching for a sweet fruit instead of candy or cookie. Unsure what healthy eating looks like? You're not alone. Click here to read more about healthy eating.


Honorable Mention

Okay this is not considered one of the three pillars of health but I will mention it anyway. Find what relaxes you and take time to do that thing each day, even if all you have is 3-5 minutes a day. You can try things like yoga stretches, deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation. Click here for some ideas.



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