Most of my life I’ve had a sunny disposition. I’ve always been an optimist and tried to look for the good. But, we all have our trials. In my late twenties, I suffered from stress and anxiety due to an abusive marriage. Towards the end of my marriage, I was in a deep, dark place and overcome by fear. These feelings led to a short bout with depression which I eventually overcame with the support of a family member that helped me to finally put an end to the abusive relationship and build my self-esteem that had been eroded over years by mental and emotional abuse.
The statistics for mental health are sobering. One in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness. What compounds the problem is this- NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT. We’ve been shamed into thinking that we can’t admit that we are depressed. Oh, we can say that we’re “stressed out”, but no one wants to be thought of as “crazy.” There does seem to be a slow shift happening in recent times as many famous people have shared their own battle with depression: Lady Gaga, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and JK Rowling, to name a few. Michelle Obama said, "At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it's still an illness, and there should be no distinction."
While it is important to seek the help of a professional if you think that you may be depressed, or have a mental illness, there are lifestyle changes that you can make that support good mental health.
Practicing The Four Seeds of Self-Care is about so much more than eating real food, meditating, exercising and getting enough sleep. The truth is that we don’t often make the connection to our mental health and our self-care. We know that “exercise is good for us”, but getting regular exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety (which can lead to depression) and improve your mood. Exercise releases the feel-good endorphins, which are nature’s analgesic, reducing the perception of pain. And as the term “runner’s high” suggests, triggers positive feelings in the body. Exercise can also improve another of The Four Seeds- sleep!
Sleep and mental health are intricately