Studies are predicting that by 2030, depression will be the number one sickness affecting our health—more than cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. The numbers are staggering.
As overwhelming as this can feel, I believe this is a call for help to the wellness community to rise up and create awareness around these issues. Two major factors affecting our mental health and moods are the amount of time spent in front of screens (and the blue light they produce), and sedentary jobs that many of us find ourselves working at. Creativity, rest, and the space/time to allow ourselves to process emotion end up being lost in many of our daily lives.
But hope is not lost! Here are some practical ways we can improve our mental health daily.
Start your day strong!
Studies show that sleep is a major factor in our hormone levels staying balanced. These hormones balance our moods and energy levels. Starting your day with a brisk walk or a quick boot camp in the backyard can actually help you sleep better at night! “Natural a.m. light resets circadian rhythms, so it may be easier to nod off at night,” say experts at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, New York. Try to avoid a sunset workout session; it can delay melatonin release, making it tougher to fall asleep.
Did you know that studies show the colour green calms our nervous systems? Environmental Science and Technology did a study on cyclists who biked in front of a green screen and found they were calmer during their workouts. Even five minutes in the outdoors lifts our energy levels and the positive effects have been shown to last all day.
When we are constantly plugged in, our minds never have an opportunity to re-boot, rest, or get inspired. We are constantly hammered with others’ ideas, opinions, and thoughts. Studies show that even five minutes on social media can increase our anxiety. The effects lead to lack of motivation, foggy thoughts, and feelings of physical fatigue from mental exhaustion. Most gyms now are filled with screens and places to plug in, and don’t allow us proper time to re-boot. It’s not realistic to think we can always be unplugged, but scheduling in days to put the gadgets down and allow ourselves silence and space will benefit our mental health and increase our motivation to get our bodies moving.
Place foot on a solid surface.
Slowly come up to standing, leaving a small micro bend in your knee to protect the joint.
Place foot to ground and repeat.
Place one foot on a solid surface.
Slowly bring the body into a squat, pressing the glutes back and keeping the knee tracking over the top of the ankle.
Squeeze your glutes and return to starting position.
This movement can be done with the knees stacked for a modification or on the toes (shown in photo).
Keep elbow stacked under your shoulder.
Ensure core is engaged by bringing the rib cage in and flattening out the abdominal wall.
Lift hips and hold.
Press through the heels.
Press shoulder blades down the back.
Slowly lower your butt down to a 90 degree angle.
Squeeze the glutes to stand, and repeat.
Forearm Plank with Knee Drive
Keep elbows stacked under shoulders.
Place hips in alignment with shoulders (a nice flat line).
Slowly engaging the core, draw one knee at a time into the chest.
Rachel Doell is an instructor, personal trainer, mother, and wife who loves health and fitness. Her fitness company, Daily Routine Fitness, features simple ways to fit living a healthy life into your everyday routine.
Photos by Meghan Bstard
Article was published in The Good Life magazine.