Lifestyle Mental Health

Mind Over Matter: Taking Care of Your Mental Health

A young, female gymnist getting ready to do a backflip

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Simone Biles is one of the most celebrated gymnasts and the most decorated American in her sport. She was considered a top contender for the games this summer. When she stunned the world by choosing to withdraw from the competition, she highlighted the need to focus on her well-being and cited “mental health concerns.” Biles’ brave decision opened the door to a bigger discussion on prioritizing mental health over performance.

Like all of our competitors past and present, Simone Biles represents the best in all of us. She also reminded us that we’re all human. There are times when the pressure is too much and even the smallest tasks feel like a major feat.

Your whole health includes your body, mind and spirit. When one is struggling, they’re all affected — and it’s OK to ask for help. Here are some symptoms to consider and strategies for caring for yourself.

Common Mental Health Conditions:

Anxiety and depression are very common among all age groups and affect both genders. They are not the same, but can have overlapping symptoms. Many people experience both anxiety and depression on a regular basis. For some, their daily living is disrupted. If this is the case for you, know that you’re not alone and there is help.

Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Appetite changes
  • Constant worrying
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Edginess
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Nervousness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomachache

Depression Symptoms:

  • Aches and pains that do not go away
  • Constant, intense sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling worthless
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of energy
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of harming yourself
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

There are biological and environmental reasons a person might experience anxiety and/or depression. They might run in your family, or maybe your life is filled with too much stress — sometimes both. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, what can you do to find peace?

Healing with a Healthy Lifestyle

CREATION Life is our wellness plan, a whole-person philosophy based on eight life-giving principles. With each letter of CREATION as your guide, you can find ways to combat anxiety and depression and live a healthier, happier, more peaceful life.

  • Choice
  • Rest
  • Environment
  • Activity
  • Trust in God
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Outlook
  • Nutrition

Here’s some timeless wisdom to help you care for your mental health inspired by CREATION Life.

Choose Rest

Making your mental health a priority includes making positive choices, like carving out enough time to rest. Rest includes getting enough sleep, but it also means taking some time to quiet your mind during the day. Most people focus on rest for the body, but it’s really important to rest your mind too. You can take mini-mental breaks to meditate, pray or do something that relaxes you, like listening to a favorite song or doing a crossword puzzle.

Set the Stage

Your environment affects your mental health more than you may realize. What surrounds you on the outside affects you on the inside. Try your best to declutter your home and office space. Create an inviting atmosphere by surrounding yourself with good things that appeal to all the senses. You can fill your spaces with indoor plants, calming lighting and peaceful images. Try aromatherapy by diffusing a relaxing scent like lavender. Have soft, warm blankets within reach, music playing that induces positive feelings and favorite comfort foods available for when you need a boost. Getting out in nature on a regular basis can also improve your mental health.

Stay Active

Making sure you’re getting enough physical and mental activity can improve your mental health. Anxiety and depression symptoms may have you feeling tired and not very motivated. Make an effort to take even a short walk each day for physical movement. You can add more movement as you feel comfortable. Reading something short and inspirational each day, such as from a devotional or a book of wisdom, can help keep your mind sharp and your spirits uplifted.

Build Connections

Your interpersonal relationships matter to your mental health. Reach out to a trusted family member, friend or mentor if you’re feeling down and keep the connections open. Try to surround yourself with positive, supportive people who understand. Don’t isolate yourself, which makes symptoms worse. You can find a good counselor for additional assistance. Having a pet as a companion is also a wonderful way to find emotional support and connection. Trusting in a loving God or higher power is shown to have a positive impact on mental health and can be a very fulfilling relationship.

Keep Looking Up

In the article, “ The Biology of Hope,” we are reminded that “ being hopeful in the face of challenges is a powerful way to turn positive thinking into action.” Your outlook impacts your mental health and affects the amount of hope and joy you experience. It also informs how you think about yourself, your family, friends, job and more. Intentionally making a point to improve your outlook can lead to actions that enhance your whole life. Start small by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, focusing on all the blessings in your life and remembering to hope for better days ahead.

Eat Well

Choosing nutritious food is as good for your mind as it is for your body. Proper nutrition is a tried and true way to improve your mental health. Some of the best foods to boost your mental health are oily fish such as salmon, nuts, berries, avocados, eggs (especially the yolks), whole grains like brown rice, and vegetables that include all the colors of the rainbow.

Caring for All of You

Making consistent healthy lifestyle choices is a great way to take care of your mental health. Knowing when you need some extra care and time to attend to your well-being is key to feeling better, like Simone Biles just showed the world.

At AdventHealth, we strive to care for your whole-person health — to keep you well physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. You deserve to feel whole.

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