Mental health is finally garnering the attention it deserves. Not only are individuals beginning to share more openly about their struggles, but researchers and doctors are seeing mental health in a new light and they understand it in new ways. While many previously believed mental and physical health to be separate, new understanding and research shows us just how connected our minds and bodies really are.
Bad News First
Negative mental health has been linked to an increase in high blood pressure, obesity, physical aches and pains, sleep issues, heart disease, and even immune suppression. Mental health issues and negative emotions can both lead to stress. No doubt you’ve experienced the effects of stress on your body before. Headaches, chest pains, stomachaches, anxiety, and trouble sleeping are all symptoms of unhealthy stress levels in our bodies. If not appropriately managed, ongoing stress can cause stomach ulcers, high blood pressure that puts you at risk for heart attack and circulation issues, muscle tension and pain, sleep deprivation, and problems with sexual function. Long-term, prolonged stress can disrupt synapse regulation, causing us to be less social and avoid others. Not only that, but stress can kill brain cells and reduce the size of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for learning and memory. Inflammation is the inevitable by-product of these changes, and inflammation anywhere means dis-ease.
Not only does mental health change our physical brains and cause a domino effect of chemical and hormonal changes in our bodies, but poor mental health that is not properly managed can also lead to an increase in risky behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, overeating, gambling, drug use, self-harm, and dangerous sexual situations. These actions add gasoline to the fire of stress in our bodies.
Tell Me Something Good
Now for the good news! Just as poor mental health has a negative impact on our physical health and wellness, good mental health has a positive impact on us as well. Positive mental health is linked to lower blood pressure, better sleep, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life. Mental health is linked to resilience, gratitude, and the ability to hold onto positive emotions and experiences longer.
Psychoneuroimmunology studies indicate that thoughts, emotional patterns, and psychological dynamics are strongly interrelated with the immune response. Moreover, immunological mechanisms not only regulate the health of the person, but they are also an important part of the individual adaptive process in the environment. In various studies, the results of each treatment modality (drug interventions and psychosocial interventions) were observed and compared in patients with mental health problems associated with immune reactions (inflammation). Psychosocial interventions suggest increased efficiency in reducing inflammation and improving immune system function as well.*
How-to Without a Guru
If you are struggling with mental health issues, it is important to know that you are not alone. The increased attention on mental health shows us that far more people are suffering than we previously thought. We’re going to focus on four areas that will help you improve your mental health: vegetation, meditation, supplementation, and regeneration.
Vegetation means adding more colorful and living foods into your daily diet. Smoothies, greens powder, super salads, or even swapping out a starch at dinner for extra vegetables means that your body is taking in more essential nutrients. More nutrients means fewer deficiencies and inflammation; both can exacerbate mental health concerns. No need to try and overhaul everything overnight. Just start by adding to your existing habits. Small changes can have a great impact consistently over time!
Meditation can conjure images of monks in temples, but that does not come close to all that meditation encompasses. A meditation practice can include daily gratitude, walking or dancing, yoga, breathwork, mindfulness, and more. Meditation does not need to take up a large part of your day either. Ten minutes every day is a great goal, although once you start experiencing the benefits of meditation, you may want to do it more. Studies using MRI have proven that meditation shrinks the amygdala, our brain’s emotional thermostat, which controls fear and stress. This indicates the brain’s reduced need for stress management and reduction as a result of a meditation practice.
Supplementation is something we all need in this day and age. For mental health, supplementation should focus on vitamins, minerals, and adaptogens that support the brain and body with handling stress and in neurotransmitter production. A shortlist would include: B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D (which is actually a hormone and not a vitamin), Omega-3 fatty acids, Rhodiola, saffron, and Sam E. Talk to your healthcare provider about dosages and check for interactions if you are taking any medications.
Regeneration includes anything that helps your body and brain heal and repair. The easiest way to do this is quality sleep. By implementing some of the above strategies, you will find that quality sleep comes more easily. Sleep is the time that our bodies require to heal and repair, so quality sleep allows our bodies to do what they were made to do.
BrainTap products integrate meditation with regeneration. Through guided meditation, the BrainTap guides your mind from an awake, reactionary state into an intuitive, creative one, then to a place where super-learning and healing can occur. The outcome of all of this being a heightened state of consciousness with crystal clear focus.
The BrainTap Headset brings a whole new dimension to your “brain-tapping” sessions by adding the restorative power of light frequency therapy. In addition to the sonic effect in the audio sessions, the BrainTap Headset delivers gentle light pulses that travel through the ear meridians and the retina, sending direct signals to the brain and guiding you into extraordinary brain states that would otherwise take years of disciplined effort to achieve. To learn more about the BrainTap products, click here.