As we come into the new year, it’s important to focus on how we can set up the foundations of our mental wellbeing for the year ahead. While there are many components of mental wellbeing, it can be supported through four basic pillars that we can all do to help ourselves feel happy and healthier that can be easy to change and manage. The four pillars of mental wellbeing are sleep, nutrition, exercise and sunlight.
Sleep is essential to health, both physical and psychological. During sleep, your brain and body undergo vital functions to rest and repair. Not only does it assist with managing your mood, it can enhance your ability to cope with change, solve problems and lower your risk of health problems. Our need for sleep changes as we age, however 7 – 9 hours of sleep is generally recommended, acknowledging that waking a few times per night is completely normal! If you find that you're not getting enough sleep, practicing positive sleep hygiene can be helpful for getting your sleep back on track.
Did you know that most of our serotonin (a brain chemical that manages our mood) comes from our gut? Eating nutrient rich food and having a balanced diet can significantly improve our brain functioning and our overall wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Many nutritional deficiencies can lead to symptoms relating to poor mental health, effecting how our bodies function. Small changes can have big effects and most people notice a difference in how they feel after two to three weeks of eating a balanced diet.
It is well known that exercise helps you feel better and feel more energised. It sounds paradoxical but burning energy through exercise can increase your energy. It aids in stress management, can improve your mood and help you to feel more confident. A recent study indicated that exercise is 1.5 times more effective in managing symptoms of depression in comparison to medication. But exercise doesn’t have to be difficult, even walking regularly can help manage your mental health.
Exposure to sunlight, particularly in the mornings, can have so many benefits! It has been suggested to improve energy levels, improve our sleep quality, increase our levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that manages our mood) and provide you with much needed vitamin D. Only 10 to 15 minutes each day is needed to see the benefits. Consider adding this to your morning routine and notice how you feel.
Implementing changes in these areas can have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing and promote a happier, healthier mind. Invest in your mental health this year and notice the benefits with Psychologist, Kaitlin Scott!