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Give Your Mental Health a Natural Boost

By Indy Summers

Now that our society has recognized the important role mental health plays on overall wellbeing, many people are looking for ways to treat their mental health issues naturally. While some conditions do require medication, drugs are not always the best solution. From the foods we eat to the activities we engage in, there are many ways to help strengthen the mind and resolve mental health concerns.

Eat More Omega-3 Foods

As much as 33% of the fatty acids in your brain lipids are comprised of Omega-3s, but, if you're not eating omega-3 rich foods regularly, you're not maintaining that balance. By boosting the amount of Omega-3s you consume, you're giving your brain the nutrients it needs to function at optimum levels. The best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, white fish, mackerel, walnuts, and flax and chia seeds.

Don't Leave Out Lean Protein

In addition to the physical benefits it provides, protein also helps support cognitive functioning and helps regulate hormone production. Additionally, eating protein-rich foods gives our emotions a boost and infuses us with a burst of energy. Research has found that a steady supply of protein throughout each day provides the body with the supply of amino acids it needs to help the body's systems function. This is why you feel fatigued and moody, if you don't consume enough protein throughout each day. Sources of lean protein include beef, wild fish, chicken, yogurt, eggs, and cheese.

Do Leave Out the Sugar

We know that consuming a large quantity of refined sugars is harmful to our physical health, but it also takes a toll on your emotional well being. Several studies have found that there is a relationship between high sugar consumption and major depression. While you may feel a mood boost immediately after drinking a sugary soft drink, the effect is only temporary and your emotional state will soon experience a crash. The lasting effect so much refined sugar has is that it causes oxidative stress in the brain and exposes the brain to harmful inflammation.

Spend Time in the Outdoors

In addition to giving you access to the vitamin D that the sun provides, getting back to nature can have a very real and positive effect on your mental health. While living a sedentary lifestyle increases your risks of developing depression, getting outdoors has the opposite effect. Reconnecting with nature can reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the symptoms of mental illness. This benefit was maximized when people physically connected with nature, so don't be afraid to touch a tree, lay in the grass, or smell a flower.

Pick Up a New Hobby

Another way to combat some mental health issues is to start a hobby that you find enjoyable. Engaging in an activity that you enjoy doing will lower stress and reduce the levels of cortisol in your mind. As you involve yourself in a pleasurable hobby, you'll take your mind off of the problems of the day and, before long, you'll feel a natural mood boost. If your hobby involves complex thought, it will also help strengthen your cognitive functioning.

Start Working Out

Your body needs a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity physical activity each day, but exercise can also benefit your mental health. Just that brief workout is enough to give your energy levels a natural boost and help you sleep better at night. Exercise can also be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, replacing them with happier thoughts that can enhance self-esteem. If your exercise involves team sports or another situation in which you can socialize with others, you'll boost those mental health benefits even more. Socializing has been found to fortify cognitive functioning and improve the overall mood.

There are many activities that can help you improve your mood, and reduce the symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. To achieve maximum benefits, you can combine two or more of these tips into your daily routine. In general, people who eat healthy and live active lifestyles are healthier overall than those who live sedentary lifestyles.

Indy Summers is a freelance writer interested in fashion, healthy living, and fitness. She has worked as an esthetician, as a personal trainer, and as a freelance model for several years. As such, she considers herself an expert in these industries and all topics related to them.

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