May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we want to make sure we talk about it because nearly one in five Americans lives with a mental health condition according to the National Institute of Mental Health. This is typically a sensitive subject, and one not always easy to talk about, and yet it is also a core component for everyone’s health and vitality. In this month’s blog we will give you ideas and options to recognize and address various issues around mental health.
When we talk about mental health, we are generally covering things from some anxiety and/or depression due to our overly stressful lives to conditions that might be diagnosed by a healthcare provider. That includes any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder such as:
• Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder
• Personality disorders
• Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
• Eating disorders
• Substance -use disorders
Something affecting the brain that causes difficulties in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it hard to cope with the ordinary demands of life fall under a mental health problem. Research is starting to uncover the complicated causes of these problems which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, gut health, experiencing trauma, and/or having another medical condition, like heart disease.
You might not be certain your friend or family member is displaying worrisome signs regarding their mental health so here are a few signs to look for as a guide:
- Impulsive behaviors or being more irritated than usual
- Not functioning like their usual selves (i.e., change in habits of how they dress, general appearance, eating or sleep habits)
- Talking about feelings of loneliness or despair
- Excessive worry
- Trouble concentrating
- Substance misuse
Opening the door to begin a conversation can really help and beginning the conversation doesn’t mean you have to dive straight into talking about mental health struggles or have an intense heart to heart. Consider inviting your friend or family member to “hang out”. You can start the conversation by talking about some struggles you are going through to give the other an opportunity to open up. Whether it’s over a bite to eat or taking a walk, a simple “what’s up” is a great place to begin.
In the Center we begin with a simple conversation about the importance of mental health to our overall health and vitality. When we recognize a problem, our solution includes the integration of the 5 pillars to restore brain and body health:
Holistic chiropractic care for the spine and nervous system. The spine houses emotional receptors and is the relay station in the communication between the optimal function of brain and body. A Discover Vitality visit gives new people to the Center a personal experience of what this feels like.
Nutrition: Nutrition brings in the building blocks we need to constantly rebuild our brains and bodies. Did you know that we have a new body every 7 years? The food we eat is also to make the proper neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that affect our mood and thought processes. We can make recommendations for your diet.
Mindfulness / Positive thinking: Our mind is more than just our brain. Our brain needs certain brain chemicals to function well, and then there are the thoughts that we focus on every moment of every day. Being mindful to positive thinking helps retrain the brain to work differently. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. Being compassionate and loving creates a physiology of well-being and can release endorphins to make you “feel good” too.
Exercise: We are mind and body. We all know how a good workout makes us feel. A good workout and exercise routine helps more oxygen get to every cell and will increase chemicals in your brain that help you focus, stay calm, feel good and motivated.
Toxicity: To truly protect your well-being, you need to start actively avoiding the worst ingredients hiding out in our food and cosmetics, as well as environmental toxins. It is sad but true we live in a toxic world.
Avoid additives, Trans fats (Primarily used in processed foods), Artificial sweeteners (especially High-fructose corn syrup), preservatives, GMO ingredients to list a few. Improper bacteria and parasites in our gut can produce toxic wastes that also negatively affect our brains and bodies.
We are here to help you understand what your brain and mental health need to reclaim their Vitality. Schedule a session today to optimize your brain function. Or leave us a question in the comments.