If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or any mental health issues, you are not alone.
It can be hard to feel supported while battling heavy emotions and dark thoughts. Our mind can leave us feeling completely separate from the world around us; like a dark fog lurking with no sunshine in sight.
In this article you’ll find a handful of tips and evidence-based solutions to help support you. P.s, a special and important reminder before you dive in… you are loved.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is an increasingly common counselling technique used by practitioners across the world. It views the mind as a space where negative or anxious thoughts can amplify and develop. By using a structured exercises to work through real-life situations, it can help us to retrain our mind and our perception of events. It has proven to be as effective as medication in treating anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. It is important that you reach out to a trained professional if you are seeking one-to-one therapy, but there are also plenty of CBT exercises and short-courses (free and paid) that you can access online.
Meditation has been practised in many different forms for thousands of years. Recently, mindfulness meditation, which originated in Buddhism, has been emerging as a highly effective technique for relieving stress and helping to treat mental illness. Some professionals claim that it can also help with physical illness and pain. Mindfulness works by retraining the mind to focus on a particular object or activity, usually the breath, which allows us to step back from and observe the thought processes that unconsciously govern our lives. Over time, we can develop our awareness so that we can be fully present in each moment and free ourselves from negative patterns of thought.
There is medical evidence to suggest that tuning into classical music has a huge range of health benefits. A study held at Oxford University showed that people who listened to classical music after a stressful task had significantly lower blood pressure compared to those who listened to other genres. Studies have also shown that relaxing classical music lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone). For anxiety, it has been shown that classical music can be more effective than commonly used sedative medications. Don’t be intimidated by classical music if it isn’t something that you’re used to – there are plenty of playlists available on YouTube, iTunes or Spotify. One relaxing melody you could start with is “Raindrop” by Chopin.
Studies in recent years are suggesting that there is a constant communication between your gut bacteria (microbiome) and your brain. It has been shown that people with severe mental illnesses have an altogether different microbiome than healthy people. Some studies have suggested that ingesting certain probiotics (live organisms) alter electrical activity in the brain, resulting in positive mental health benefits. The foods that you eat influence the balance of bacteria in your gut – several studies have shown that, for example, eating a plant-based diet can positively affect your microbiome. This is due to the live enzymes in the fresh foods that supports our good gut bacteria. Although not enough studies have been done uncover the relationship between our mental health and gut bacteria, the evidence from existing studies is very promising.
Our brain has a unique self-care system that takes place while we slumber. Essentially, our spinal fluid swirls around the spaces in our brain, clearing out all the “junk” that has been collected throughout waking hours. This process reduces inflammation and has undeniable restorative effects on our memory, mental health and physical wellbeing. Research suggests that we need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you aren’t prioritising your sleep, this is simple change that you can make that will drastically improve your mental health.