Mental health in response to the coronavirus pandemic is a topic that’s gaining more traction. There’s been quite a bit of talk regarding the immune system because of the current situation we are in. However, immune system health (particularly acquired immunity) is only one aspect of optimal health.
Mental health is a huge aspect of our lives that should be supported especially during times like these. Social isolation goes against everything good for the body, and general uncertainty can cause a certain level of anxiety for all of us.
This blog post may have gotten off to a rough reality check, but rest assured, there are things we can do to support our emotional wellbeing during these times. What’s even better is that these tips that we’ll be sharing with you are habits you can apply for life.
Let’s look at some important factors that support emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Form a Morning Routine
Our schedules have all had to shift as a result of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean we can’t build some consistency into our day. One place to start is by forming a morning routine. The morning routine is a time to set the tone for the rest of the day. Morning coffee or tea alongside some journaling can prepare yourself for the day and give you some time to organize your thoughts.
Routine extends to all actions for the day including nutrition and exercise. With preparation and intention, we can set goals of what we’ll be eating, when we’ll be exercising and what we plan on accomplishing for the day.
Nutrition and Gut Health
Nutrient specificity, food quality and gut health all have a role in the biochemistry and cognitive function of the brain. That’s why a balanced diet that focuses on whole foods is linked to mental health. Specifically, things like omega 3 fatty acids, blood sugar management, antioxidant status, and gut health all factor into mental health.
The correlation between these 4 dietary factors works as follows. The polyphenols found in vegetables and herbs provide the body with antioxidants, quality carbs may influence serotonin and its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, and omega 3 fatty acids influence inflammation levels in the body (which is correlated with cognitive decline.
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Building a morning routine starts with one habit at a time. Once you've owned that habit, move on to the next one. Easy habits to start building into your morning routine… ☀ Make your bed. Not only did your mom tell you to do it growing up, but the barrier to success is low since it's the first thing you step out of in the morning. ☀ Start with one act of #mindfulness. This could be making tea, coffee or writing in a gratitude journal. Here you can move with intention and set goals for the day. ☀ Do something #active: 15 mins of physical activity (this could be a walk, stretching, air squats, etc…). ☀ Consume something nourishing. Obviously, this won't apply to someone who fasts in the morning, but a good meal will set the tone for the rest of the day (from a hunger and blood sugar management standpoint). What's part of your morning routine? #PlatinumNautrals #morninggratitude #morningroutine #goodmorning #mindbodyhealth #selfdevelopment #morningquotes #morningmotivation #morningtime #healthyhabits
Specific nutrients that are associated with a whole foods diet include Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and magnesium. One of magnesium and vitamin D’s effects on mood is seen by its effects on testosterone levels. Low T levels are associated with low mood and depressive symptoms. It’s also worth noting that observational studies have shown a correlation between low magnesium levels and anxiety.
Vitamin B12 serves as a cofactor for a variety of functions in the body. When it comes to mental health, suboptimal B12 levels can affect serotonin (by its effects on neurotransmitter formation). With all of us being in quarantine, B12 shots may not be easily accessible, that’s why a B-Complex may be a good supplement to include at the moment.
Breathing and Exercise
Have you ever been stressed out only to have someone close to you say, “take a deep breath”? Well, there’s some science to that. An objective study showed that deep breathing was able to improve heart rate and cortisol levels in response to stress. Something as easy as 10 deep and intentional breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) can be easily incorporated into your day when stress starts to overwhelm you.
Exercise is one of the cheapest forms of therapy and is seen as a great way to naturally release endorphins. Including at-home exercises or simply walking on daily is a great way to support a healthy body composition and improve mood.
Daily sunlight intake supports vitamin d levels. Vitamin D aside, regular sunlight exposure means more time spent outside and not being isolated. This alone can be beneficial for mood and mental health.
Talk About It
Social distancing is a weird term. It does mean the physical contact between people is reduced but shouldn’t mean the social aspect of relationships should be affected. Making time to speak to friends and loved ones daily can have huge benefits on mental health. Make it a point to speak to someone when frustrated. Chances are they’re feeling what you’re feeling and could use someone to speak to as well.