My Top 10 Tips To Empower You On The Road to Healing From Mental Illness
Let's talk about mental health shall we? It's something a huge majority of us have struggled with, either as an ongoing issue or at one point in our lives. There was a point in time in the past where I was mentally ill... like really, coo coo for cocoa puffs. I don't mean to make light of it but it was really to the point where I would be walking my dog and thoughts would go through my head that were just "crazy" and not normal and I recognized it in myself. I was afraid of everything, I thought I was dying and truly saw the world through a veil of darkness. I actually remember thinking to myself at the time, "how did this happen to ME?". Why? If you've been through this, no one can understand what it feels like unless they've been there.
So... I made it out of that hole of darkness but it took a shit ton of work and some medication. There, I said it. No one wants to talk about it but I'm not afraid and you shouldn't be either. I'm a holistic nutritionist and as such, you will always find me advocating for all things natural when I can, but there are times where you need to put on your oxygen mask first so you can get a grip. Sometimes medication is that oxygen mask which allows you to do the work that's required to get better. The trick is to get to the actual work.
This brings me to the real topic of this post. I want to go beyond "talking" about mental illness. I want to talk to you about what you can do to help yourself if you find yourself struggling, besides talking about it (which is super important!!). I don't want you to think that the only way to get better is by taking medication. It can be part of the treatment but it's certainly not the only thing. The thing is, it doesn't address what got you to the place where you are unwell in your thinking, emotions and the way you see the world. It doesn't address the root cause. Some people believe that mental illness is caused by an imbalance in your brain chemicals. Yes, they are right to some extent, but that is not the root cause, the imbalance is a symptom of something else (or many other things) that is going wrong in the body which then is affecting the brain. The work is to determine what the imbalances are in the body that are leading to shifts in your mental status. How do you do that? Well, here are a few tips to empower you on the road to healing:
1) Besides speaking with your medical doctor, seek the help of a natural health professional - a Nutritionist or a Naturopathic Doctor. We are trained to look at root cause of your health issues. For instance, we can connect how what you eat affects your health and consequently, mental health.
The status of your mental health is HUGELY dependent on the health of your digestive system - how you digest food, how you absorb nutrients, and the health and balance of your intestinal bacteria (this is key). Did you know that your gut is considered to be your second brain? They are inextricably linked! This means that what you eat is critical and directly influences your mental state.
2) Spend time in nature - it is one of the most powerful healing things you can do for yourself. Walk in the woods, by the lake....
3) Learn to quiet the mind through mindfulness and meditation. 5 minutes a day is sometimes all it takes to see a difference.
4) Eat Real Food - avoid packaged, processed and refined foods. If it came anywhere near a machine or was created by a machine, try not to eat it.
5) Get enough healthy fats in your diet - healthy fats are critical for brain health - nuts, seeds, avocados and healthy oils (like avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil), and the meat from grass-fed animals.
6) Take an inventory and learn to understand how you react to stress. Many of us think that we don't have any more stress then the next person but it doesn't matter, it's how YOU deal with it.
7) Take a fish oil supplement, high in EPA and DHA.
8) Take a good quality probiotic so that you can keep those friendly gut bacteria happy down there and they continue sending good vibes up to your brain.
9) Remove regular consumption of sugar from your diet - unstable blood sugar is a huge contributor to anxiety and panic attacks.
10) Identify areas in your life where you feel like there is left over business to attend to or that you don't feel happy with and take steps to change them.
I'm always hear if you need to talk. xo