Mental Health Awareness Month: Ways To Improve Your Mental & Physical Health

During Mental Health Awareness Month, prioritize your mental and physical health. Next Health shares practical ways to enhance your well-being. Read more.

Mental Health Awareness Month: Ways To Improve Your Mental & Physical Health
Next Health Staff
December 6, 2023

Mental health and physical health are deeply connected. What affects one aspect of our health inevitably impacts the other. During Mental Health Awareness Month, it is critical that we recognize and emphasize this relationship.

By acknowledging the mind-body connection, we can develop a more holistic approach to wellness to better our overall health and quality of life.

Here are some science-backed ways to simultaneously improve your mental health and physical health:

Prioritizing Loving Relationships in Your Life

By nurturing loving relationships with physical touch such as hugs and cuddling, you can actually activate repair genes in your body. This concept is called sociogenomics, how different social factors and processes affect the activity of the genome.

This field has identified that genes both regulate social behavior and are influenced by social behavior. Put simply, there is now a wealth of research showing relationships that make you feel good, are good for you.

The opposite is also true in that studies show when in you engage in unfulfilling, emotionally draining, and/or hurtful relationships, the genes for inflammation are activated, increasing your risk of chronic disease.

The same goes for having no relationships as loneliness is becoming known as one of the greatest compromisers of health. To emphasize its importance, some experts say smoking cigarettes is actually better for your health than chronically feeling lonely. When you consider the research, that may really be true- according to the National Institute on Aging the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation and loneliness have even been estimated to shorten a person's life span by as many as 15 years.

Here are some tips for staying social and supporting your mental health:

  • Make time for regular calls, texts, video chats or in-person meetups with friends and family. Social interaction releases dopamine which improves your mood and well-being.

  • Practice active listening. Make eye contact, don't distract yourself with other devices and focus on the other person. Ask questions and be genuinely interested in learning more about them.

  • Build new friendships or rekindle old ones. Join a local sports league, book club, volunteering opportunity, or take up a new hobby. Making new connections helps combat loneliness and provides a support system.

  • Be present when socializing. Avoid comparing yourself to others or dwelling on past regrets. Appreciate the opportunity to connect with others in the moment.

  • Practice self-care. Take a class, see a therapist, join a support group or engage in exercise. Prioritize your mental health and take steps towards wellness each day. A strong foundation will make social interaction more enjoyable and helpful.

  • Be generous with compliments and positivity. Compliment others sincerely and spread kindness whenever you can. Making others feel good boosts your own mood and self-esteem.

  • Set boundaries when you need to. It's okay to say no or take time for yourself. Don't feel obligated to always be available or please others if it's detrimental to your own well-being. Practice balance and maintain your own emotional needs.

Go Outside

Did you know cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are shown to drop by approximately 20% when we spend time in nature?

Spending too much time in urban areas can negatively impact our well-being and experts recommend immersing yourself in nature to boost both mental and physical health as being in nature can combat symptoms of stress. This practice is a Japanese concept called forest bathing and is considered a type of nature therapy designed to improve immune function, prevent disease, and promote relaxation.

Given that, on average, we spend 90% of our time indoors, taking some time on your lunch break or after work to step outside, get some fresh air and sunlight, and enjoy the benefits of letting nature enhance your mental and physical well-being.

Get Your Vitamin D

Approximately 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D and around 90% have suboptimal levels.

This hidden deficiency is often the cause of common health concerns such as hair loss, dry skin, getting sick often, hormone imbalances, and even mood imbalances.

Vitamin D is as vital for mental health as it's essential for physical health. There is sufficient research to show that not having enough of the vitamin can lead to depression-like symptoms. People with depression have higher chances of having vitamin D deficiency.

Spending just twenty minutes outside a day in the sun is a great way to relax while improving your mental and physical health.

You can also enjoy a Next Health Vitamin D Shot for a next-level approach to enhancing your vitamin levels. Stop by for a quick 5-10 minute appointment at one of our vibrant locations.

Request an appointment here

Cold Therapy (Cryotherapy)

Cold therapy such as ice baths and Cryotherapy trigger a series of natural, protective responses in the body to combat the harsh conditions: The immune system boosts white blood cell count, the circulatory system ramps up productivity, and the endocrine system jumps into action with a hormonal response that includes the release of endorphins--the ”feel good” chemical--and norepinephrine into the bloodstream. These responses cascade into a variety of benefits including:

  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve athletic recovery time
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Boost collagen production
  • Enhance immunity
  • Improve circulation

And, elevate mood and cognition because you are flooded with endorphins in addition to improving your natural stress response.

Cold therapy is a great example of healthy stress as it forces you to become comfortable with discomfort. It increases both your mental and physical capability to withstand stress.

Cryotherapy at Next Health is non-nitrogen and true whole-body so all it takes is just three minutes of cold exposure (-150 degrees Fahrenheit) to feel a total mental and physical reboot.

Fuel Your Mind and Body

A healthy brain is essential for well-being and sound mental health. When the brain is functioning properly, it can regulate thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a balanced and adaptive manner. However, when the brain is impaired or damaged, it leads to difficulties managing thoughts, feelings, and actions which manifest as mental health issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and more.

How do you fuel a healthy brain?

Approximately 90% of Americans suffer from at least one vitamin deficiency and your brain and body need proper fuel to function.

Nearly 60% of the human brain fat, yet a third of Americans do not consume enough omega-3s daily, which is why it is important to make sure you are getting enough healthy fats in your diet (extra virgin olive oil, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, nuts, and more).

Other important brain-fueling vitamins include:

  • Magnesium: Over half of Americans do not get enough magnesium daily yet this mineral is critical in neural cell communication and longevity.
  • Glycine: Glycine is effective in repairing damaged tissues, combating muscle degeneration, and slowing the neurological aging process.
  • Taurine: Taurine is an essential compound that protects the health of the brain and heart. The brain requires large amounts of taurine to aid in the transportation of essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium.

All of these vitamins and more are included in the Next Health Brain IV, which includes ingredients formulated to improve mental clarity, combat brain fog, and promote cognitive longevity.

Final Thoughts

This Mental Health Awareness Month, remember that your thoughts, feelings, and physical body are connected. Prioritize both your mental and physical health for the best long-term well-being. With an integrated approach, we can reduce stigma, improve lives, and create a healthier society for all.

Call or text us at: (310) 295-2075


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