Mental well-being is important for and to every individual, family and community. Incorporate these 7 areas to improve your state-of-being and spread some joy.
In addition to lowering cortisol, numerous studies demonstrate additional benefits of laughter including increased immunity, enhanced learning ability and improved memory recall. Laughter also enhances relationships and communication.
The benefits of exercise are profound and equally as powerful as physical and mental well-being. Exercise reduces cortisol and adrenaline as well as produces endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Physical activity improves the ability to sleep, further reducing stress. Exercise can simply be walking to work, taking the stairs rather than the lift or hunting for Pokemon on the weekends. See our Tips For Exercise Success for more information.
In a 2015 study, face-to-face communication was found to be significantly more effective at decreasing sadness than non-face-to-face interactions such as phone calls, social media browsing or e-mail. The more in-person sharing of joyful moments and struggles lead to more meaningful conversation whilst simultaneously decreasing the risk of depression.
Resting the mind and finding a special state of consciousness without distractions is the essence of meditation. Most beginner meditative exercises focus on deep breathing. Add visualization, and you get a hefty dose of mental detoxification.
An up and coming popular technique that can be done anywhere is the Emotional Freedom Technique, or “EFT.” In a 2012 study, EFT showed significant decreases in overall cortisol, anxiety and depression levels after only 1-hour of intervention and training on the technique. It has also shown to help with more severe forms of mental distress such as PTSD. Caroline Rhodes, EFT trainer and owner of The Body Group says, “EFT is a combination of focusing on your worry and tapping on a series of acupressure points to open up blockages in the meridian system. If anyone has a negative thought, cannot let go of an event, has regrets about a decision or not saying something they wanted to say, chronic pain, cravings, addiction, fear, phobia or chronic illness, EFT can help.” For more on EFT see our article: EFT – Releasing Trauma & Stress Through Tapping.
Massage can help the body and mind reach a relaxed state whilst simultaneously promoting a decreased heart rate, slower breathing and relaxed muscles. Registered massage therapist, John Pennie states, “Massage can help with the healing process by increasing circulation to an area. By gently manipulating the tissue, we can create a neurological effect that helps reduce pain perception.” Relaxation massage helps our bodies turn off the constant internal stress making way for an internal environment more conducive to healing.
Stress Is Your Friend
Kelly McGonigal, in her landmark Ted Talk discusses how to “Make Stress Your Friend.” She demonstrates that viewing stress as an energising and positive response releases the naturally produced social- bonding hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin protects the heart, increases empathy, helps the body recover from stress more quickly and urges you to seek out individuals to help you through stressful experiences. McGonigal says, “When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”