Taking into consideration that physical health is often dictated by mental health, it would be wise to take care of the latter seriously. In our busy day-to-day routine, it can be hard to remember that mental health is important, and it can be even harder to know where to start. There are countless ways that this can be achieved, but hiking/being in nature, meditation, yoga, nutrition, and listening to music are the focus here. Each of these ways offers well-documented and researched benefits that are advantageous to brain stimulation.
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Hiking/ Being Out In Nature
Hiking is an excellent means by which our brains are given a chance to flourish. The combination of a serenely scenic and calming environment allows the mind to intellectually realign itself. Being out in nature has a documented, physiological effect on the neurological functioning of the brain.
A study conducted by Stanford University explores the benefits of being in nature, even in small doses. Unfortunately, the opportunities for many to experience a walk in nature for any period of time have grown fewer and farther between with the ever-expanding of the urban sprawl.
Noted by the findings is an acknowledgment that “more than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings, and that is forecast to rise to 70 percent within a few decades. Just as urbanization and disconnection from nature have grown dramatically, so have mental disorders such as depression.”
Yoga is also greatly beneficial to mental health. In the practice of yoga, you are encouraged to use your body in many ways, but ultimately with the intention of drawing yourself inward. It increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centers the nervous system. This article details these findings, which talks about the link between yoga and a substantial decrease in both anxiety and depression.
The beauty of yoga is that it is for everyone. You do not have to be a yogi to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Choose a yoga class that fits with your physical capacity and mental health requirements. There are yoga courses for beginners and advanced.
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Meditation is an excellent practice in regard to mental health. It is a very intentional reflection allowing the brain to cease its racing, especially in these modern times that demand we continuously multitask, meet deadlines, and endure undue stress is a crucial practice for our overactive brains. Whether prayer, breathing exercises or focusing on the blessings in our lives, meditation promotes an environment of tranquility and peace in the midst of the chaos we have become accustomed to in our personal lives.
Meditation is a relaxation method that you can begin practicing right away. If it is something that you are practicing already, continue doing it as it is worthwhile. If you need direction on how to start, check out YouTube videos and Podcast episodes. My favorite podcast that I listen to daily is The Meditation Podcast.
The role of nutrition is one of the most unrecognized factors in the development of mental health. We know nutrition has substantial physical impacts, but it is the mental impacts of nutrition that are gaining traction with additional research and heightening awareness around this topic.
Proper nutrition is what fuels our bodies and our bodies need a regular supply of fuel. If we supply our bodies with a diet with tons of sugar, we are filling up on poor fuel. But if we supply our bodies with a healthy diet, we are giving our brains the fuel it needs to affect our cognitive processes and emotions.
Music can evoke nostalgia, good memories, and a general sense of warmth, all while engaging the brain. Research shows that listening to music can reduce anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, memory, increase some cognitive functions, enhance learning and concentration, and ward off the effects of brain aging. Music is so good for your brain because it is one of the few activities that stimulate your whole brain.
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