Though it’s important every day, World Mental Health Day is marked annually on October 10. It was established in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), an organization representing over 100 mental health associations in over 120 countries. Their goal is to educate the public about mental health and mobilize efforts to improve it.
To mark the day, we’ve rounded up some ways you can support your own mental health.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is a state of emotional well-being in which an individual can realize their own potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and contribute to their community. Mental health is an important part of overall health and wellness as it includes the ability to enjoy life and to develop a wide range of skills and interests. It affects all aspects of our lives, including our physical health, work performance, and connection with others.
Mental health can be impacted by many different factors, including:
- Depression or anxiety disorders
- Substance use disorders (including alcohol and drugs)
- Chronic conditions like pain, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune diseases, and anything that affects one’s ability to enjoy life
Our mental health affects what we think about ourselves, how we relate to others, and what choices we make.
What Are Some Ways to Improve Mental Health?
Mental health conditions can affect anyone. So, if you’re struggling with your mental health, or know someone who is, it’s important that you know you’re not alone. Here are some ways to take care of yourself:
- Reach out for help, whether that be by talking to a friend or family member or going to see a therapist or health practitioner.
- Practice self-care by taking time for yourself each day. This could mean taking a walk outside on your lunch break, practicing ten minutes or more of breath work or meditation, or doing some stretches or taking a soothing bath at the end of your day instead of immediately turning to the TV.
- Eat healthy, brain-supportive foods like omega-3-rich nuts (walnuts are shaped like brains!), seeds, and fatty fish, as well as leafy greens, brightly coloured vegetables, and berries.
- Keep your gut healthy by including fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, miso, and kimchi, as they provide good bacteria (probiotics) that are key to our emotions. The digestive system provides more feel-good serotonin than the brain.
- Include movement activities. This might be going to the gym or playing a sport, but it can also be stretching, going for a hike in nature, walking your dog (or cat—getting to be more common!), doing some yoga or tai chi, and even just taking the stairs or parking your car a little further from where you need to be.
- Get enough restorative sleep. Create a wind-down routine and shut off backlit screens a few hours before bedtime, address sleep disorders like sleep apnea, and make sure your bedroom is geared for a restful environment.
- Seek joy. That doesn’t mean always being joyful, of course, but find activities, places, people, and animals where you can feel pleasure, awe, flow, peace, and comfort.
- Express yourself. While we may not enjoy feeling angry, frustrated, sad, hurt, lonely, fearful, anxious, or worried, suppressing our emotions and pretending they aren’t happening doesn’t necessarily make them better. Of course, there’s a time and place for strong emotions, but stoicism isn’t always the best approach. What we feel is valid and important.
- Practice gratitude. Some days this can be particularly difficult, but seeking and expressing gratitude for even the tiniest of things can help shine a bit of light.
Mental health concerns affect everyone, whether we realize it or not. The good news is that there are many ways we can help ourselves stay mentally healthy—not just during this special day, but every day of the year.
How Can Reishi Improve Mental Health?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), reishi mushroom is one of the top herbs for calming the nervous system. It is also recognized as a powerful adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stressors and can support the body’s natural defences against physical, chemical, and biological stressors. This makes reishi an excellent choice for people looking to improve their mental health as well as their physical health.
Reishi is known to have a very positive effect on the mind, and many people use it for mental health issues, including:
Depression: Reishi can help reduce depressive symptoms by balancing hormones and supporting neurotransmitters. The anti-inflammatory properties of reishi also help reduce the risk of developing depression in the first place.
Anxiety: Reishi can help reduce anxiety by regulating neurotransmitters, balancing hormones, and reducing inflammation.
Stress: Reishi has been shown to reduce stress levels by increasing serotonin production while decreasing cortisol production (the stress hormone).
Reishi may be a strong tool for improving mental health and stabilizing mood swings. It’s a great option for anyone suffering from depression or anxiety. And the best part is, you can use reishi to complement your existing treatment plan, not replace it. So, what are you waiting for?
The more we talk about mental health, the more others will realize they aren’t alone. And hopefully, they’ll feel comfortable reaching out to get help if they need it. Knowledge is power, after all.