What can you start doing today to improve your mental health? Quora: a place to gain and share knowledge, enabling people to learn from others and gain a deeper understanding of the world.
answer By Dr. Abby Maronho, PhD in Psychology and Behavior Analysis, Quora:
Mental health is complicated and there’s not always a quick fix to make everything go smoothly, but I wish there was. But there are some things we can do that will have a positive impact and help improve our overall mental health. Based on my experience as a practitioner and researcher, I will focus on two that I believe are the most powerful: healthy eating and gratitude.
This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Eating well is more likely to make you feel better, but eating bad food is more likely to make you feel worse. While most of us are aware of this fact, we often overlook the importance of diet to mental health and assume that the relationship is solely a matter of weight and energy levels. But it goes much deeper than that.
For example, consider serotonin. Serotonin is the little neurotransmitter/hormone we all know and love because it plays a role in supporting our well-being. Where do you think most of our serotonin is made? You would be wrong to say it’s the brain, it’s actually in our gut. In fact, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s serotonin supply. No wonder the quality of food influences the quality of thoughts.
Eating healthy is obviously important for mental health, but it’s not just about eating healthy. Rather than limiting yourself or overeating, it is important to make informed and balanced food choices. Incorporate a variety of foods from all major food groups into your diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It’s okay to eat a piece of cake or a cookie once in a while.
Practicing gratitude involves deliberately focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life, both large and small. This practice can take many forms, such as keeping a gratitude journal, reviewing your day, or simply expressing gratitude in your thoughts.
There is a misconception, mainly among young people, that you can only appreciate what you have if you have everything you want or if you lead a certain lifestyle. But this couldn’t be more wrong. Wherever you are in life, there are always things to be grateful for. If you can’t find anything, you’re not looking enough. Open your eyes and look again.
But is this practice actually having a measurable effect? Absolutely. Constantly focusing on the positive aspects through gratitude leads to an overall sense of well-being and life satisfaction. But again, it goes deeper, and research shows that practicing gratitude can alter brain activity and neurochemistry, promoting positive emotions and feelings of well-being.
Of course, these are just two of many examples, but they illustrate the importance of taking care of both mind and body. In fact, we are interconnected beings. So, just as our or our psychological well-being affects our physical well-being, our physical well-being affects our psychological well-being. So don’t ignore one and pursue the other.
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