Compared to the U.S. government’s own study back in 2018, a new study done in the first quarter of 2020 found that people are now eight times more likely to screen positive for a serious mental illness. It’s clear that the modern times we’re living in, from pandemics to global protests, are having an impact on our mental health. And the effects go far beyond simply our mind.
Mental Health and Your Overall Wellness
Mental health and immunity are closely intertwined.
For example, men and women with mental health issues are more at risk of immune system issues.
This may be because the signaling cells for your nervous system are similar to the signaling cells in your immune system. So when one is affected, so is the other, and vice versa.
Likewise, it’s been well-documented that chronic stress is strongly associated with both mental health problems and an impaired immune system.
For example, people who are chronically stressed have weaker lymphocyte-T cell responses, which leaves them more susceptible to infections. “Emerging evidence is tracing the pathways of the mind-body interaction,” explains the American Psychological Association. “For example…chronic feelings of loneliness can help to predict health status — perhaps because lonely people have more psychological stress or experience it more intensely and that stress in turn tamps down immunity. It’s also no surprise that depression hurts immunity; it’s also linked to other physical problems such as heart disease. At the same time, depression may both reflect a lack of social support and/or cause someone to withdraw from social ties. Both can be stressful and hurt the body’s ability to fight infection.”
How to Improve Your Mental Health and Stay Positive
In a previous report published on Alternative Health Concepts, we already discussed how staying positive, believing in your immune system and trusting your body can help boost your immunity.
But that’s not the only thing you can do to protect your mental health, guard your wellness, and bolster your immunity during times of anxiety, stress and unease.
1. Nurture with nutrients
What we eat has a powerful impact on our mood, our wellness and our mental health. For example, dozens of studies on omega-3 fatty acids (the healthy fats found in salmon, flax seed, etc.), have found that increasing omega-3 intake may improve markers of depression.
Likewise, if you’re worried about the impacts of your stress or anxiety on your immune system, supplements like BioPro Plus 500 can support your immune strength by delivering the thymic proteins that your body needs to respond to infection. Thymic protein levels fall as we age, which is also a time when many of us experience higher levels of stress and worry.
Finally, take a look at your diet. “Individuals who consume whole foods (as opposed to processed foods and fast food diets) are at reduced risk of developing depressed mood,” explains Dr. James Lake, M.D., a psychiatrist who founded the American Psychiatric Association’s Caucus on Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Mental Health Care. “For example, individuals who closely adhere to a Mediterranean diet, as well as traditional diets in Norway, Japan, and China, which are rich in vegetables and fish, have a 30% lower risk of developing depressed mood than those with the lowest rate of adherence to a Mediterranean diet.”
2. Enjoy routine
During times when our lives are in upheaval, routines offer us an opportunity to stay grounded and maintain a sense of normalcy to protect our mental health. Find healthy habits that you engage in regularly, whether that’s journaling or meditation or exercise.
When you find small ways to maintain a sense of control in your daily life, you give your mind a break and you help create a schedule that you can return to even when everything around you feels chaotic, stressful or out of control.
3. Get connected
Social connection is one of the foundational elements of positive mental health. In fact, the opposite — isolation and loneliness — has a negative impact on your life that’s not dissimilar to smoking a whopping 15 cigarettes a day!
Depending on your circumstances, and how various social lockdowns during the pandemic may be impacting your ability to interact with others, you still have many options:
- Find ways to connect to the world outside of yourself, even when in isolation. Whether it’s going grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor or mowing the lawn for a friend who’s sick, doing acts of goodness for those in your community can help you feel connected even if you aren’t face to face.
- Use technology. Whether it’s phone calls, apps, video chats or texting, we have more and more ways to see those we love and talk to those who cheer us up.
- Think beyond our species. Connecting with nature or a pet is a positive and proven way to raise our vibrations and make us feel less alone, more restored and more connected.
And finally, mental health is no small matter. If you need to talk to someone about the feelings and thoughts you have, reach out to your doctor, call your local crisis hotline, or text the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 today. You are not alone, and you have a purpose and a positive impact on the world around you even if you don’t feel that’s true right now. You are loved, and you are cherished more than you may realize.