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Ways you can support your mental health through nutrition, exercise and sleep hygiene

mental health

We’ve talked a before about sleep being one of the three pillars of good health, with the other two being exercise and nutrition. These three pillars, while each equally important, work together to support your optimum mental health. 

Exercise and Sleep 

Exercising is believed to have a bidirectional relationship with sleep meaning when we are more active, we sleep better and in turn when we sleep better we are more likely to be active and exercise. Being active daily is know to decrease the amount of time we lay awake in the day, as well as to alleviate that daytime sleepiness we all feel. Physical activity is often the prescription for depression and anxiety. While it doesn’t cure it, therapists report that patients who exercise regularly, feel better and are less likely to exhibit severe symptoms. Our moods such as tension, fatigue and anger are all positively affected by exercise. So it’s important to make exercise a priority and to take that walk or trip to the gym! 

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Nutrition and Sleep

In our post linked here we share how tips on how eating better or even how we eat can affect our sleep and mood. We want to eat our larger more complex meals earlier in the day and move to lighter smaller meals as the day goes on. Eating rich and heavy foods later in the day or evening can send our digestive system into overdrive, making it harder to fall asleep. By establishing structure to our meal times and ensuring that we are eating foods that are nutrient rich, it can help to keep our body on track. Meal times are also a great time to create that connection time and positively influence how your family sees and eats food. Creating healthy meals together and enjoying them supports your family to value nutrition and how important it is for our daily lives. 

Mental Wellness and Sleep  

When we are mentally healthy we are to better able to enjoy our life and those in it. We can more easily cope with challenges and our emotions, and in turn make better choices to support ourselves and our family. Nurturing our mental health is something we need to prioritize. By taking the steps to look closer at our nutrition, sleep needs, stress levels and mental wellness we can ensure we are best meeting those needs. While exercise and nutrition helps our bodies stay strong, mental fitness helps us to have good mental health, all of which are keys to healthy sleep and lifestyle.

Supporting your mental health happens by getting the sleep you need, exercising, eating healthy and limiting that stress in your life. Introducing meditation, yoga or mindfulness into our day can help work through those stresses of the day and provide some down time through out day so we are more relaxed at bedtime. Our blog post here helps to show How To Use Mindfulness To Stop The Negative Sleep Cycle

Sleep Hygiene  

The final piece of the puzzle is sleep itself. Setting up a sleep environment that is inviting and conducive to sleep, knowing the sleep we need and making it a priority are important steps to our mental wellness. 

Set up a calming sleep environment, your bedroom should be for sleep only. Remove the clutter and technology, dim the lights and choose some new comfy bedding. Establish a consistent sleep pattern. It’s important to go to bed and wakeup in the mornings around the same time to keep your body clock in synch. This can be a tough step for some. When we synch our sleep with our natural sleep rhythms and internal 24-hour biological clock (sends signals to your body to be awake or asleep) we are able to achieve the best restorative sleep possible. Going to bed and waking up will become easier. 

Take the pressure off. Don’t go to bed until you are tired. If you wake in the night and it’s been over 30 minutes and you can’t sleep, get out of bed. Go do a calming but enjoyable activity out of the bedroom. This may include yoga, colouring, reading a book something calming and relaxing. We want to avoid tech in these early hours, the light and stimulation can often make it harder to fall back asleep. Read more here.

Making ourselves and our wellbeing a priority is the first step! What small changes can you make today to improve your own mental health ?

jolan
jolan
Jolan Holmes, B.A., E.C.E, R.C.C. and Certified Sleep Consultant lives in Anmore, BC with her husband and two beautiful boys. She has over 20 years experience supporting families and children with developmental, behavioural and mental health needs, as well as working specifically with little ones with sensory processing challenges and Autism. Jolan was certified as a Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute and trained as a Good Night Sleep Educator.
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