How Psychiatry & Neuroscience Can Help You Improve Your Mental Health In College
Whether you’re a student or college professional, maintaining and controlling your mental health is crucial. Trying to preserve a social life, job, health, and other adulting activities can be particularly demanding. Letting this overpower you and negatively impact your mental health can be daunting. Therefore, you’ll want to develop some coping mechanisms and daily routines within your day-to-day life to ensure a good mental state. The best way to achieve this is through using psychiatry and neuroscience techniques. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Take Care of Your Body
One of the best and most prominent ways of improving your mental health is to take care of your body. From just eating well and exercising regularly, you’ll dramatically reduce the occurrence of any mental health problems. But how?
Food is much more spectacular than what meets the eye. This is because it holds a close relationship between your brain and the gastrointestinal tract (aka “second brain”). Therefore, when you eat healthily and the food enters your gastrointestinal tract, it starts to influence the production of neurotransmitters along with other happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. As a result, your brain starts to receive more positive messages, reflecting on your mental health.
To understand this further, let’s discuss this study from Nature. After collecting data, they concluded that men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar daily were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than those who didn’t. Although this study only involved men, several studies have been conducted around women and how sugar impacts mental health issues like depression.
Including a healthy diet, you need to exercise regularly. This doesn’t have to be anything super overwhelming, and it could be a short run, walk, a 10-minute HIIT workout, etc. Performing exercise is excellent for improving or stabilizing your mental health for multiple reasons. Most notably, improving neural growth, decreasing inflammation, and helps release endorphins that make us feel good.
According to Harvard Medical School, running for 15 minutes or walking for an hour each day can hugely reduce the risks of significant mental health issues closely related to depression by 26%. Along with eating healthy, taking care of your body is a superb way of improving your mental health.
2. Put Into Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness has been around for 2,500 years and has existed in psychological therapies worldwide since the 1970s. It’s a type of meditation that focuses intensely on what you’re currently sensing and feeling. To practice mindfulness, you’ll need to develop particular breathing techniques, guided imagery, along with several other practices which aim to relax both the body and mind.
Mindfulness mediation has been a common practice for improving your mental state for centuries, and there’s sound reasoning. It helps you preserve your brain’s grey matter, reduce fear, enhances concentration, and helps enhance parts of the brain associated with thinking, emotional regulation, learning, etc.
To better understand the power of mindfulness, the University of Oxford created an online course called Be Mindful to educate and examine the effects of learning about this type of meditation. Two hundred seventy-three people enrolled within the course and completed it. After one month of finishing the course, the following results showed:
· 58% reduction in anxiety levels
· 57% reduction in depression
· 40% reduction of stress
The findings alone should be enough to understand the importance and power of mindfulness.
3. Plan Your Day
Including the above, you’ll want to plan your days. Having a good balance between work, school, social life, and health is highly demanding. From obtaining these responsibilities, you may experience a decrease in your mental health. However, there are ways to declutter your mind and make these duties much less stressful and manageable.
Planning can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes each day, but it can make your whole day much less stressful and productive. If you jump from task to task every day without an initial goal, you’ll quickly become burned out and stressed. Instead, plan when you wake up, how many hours of learning you’ll undergo, when you’ll meet your friends, along other daily activities.
A survey that psychologist and self-help Author Robert Epstein conducted showed that a quarter (25%) of our happiness comes from how well we can manage stress. Of course, the most logical way of handling anything is planning. Therefore, you’ll want to consider planning your day (per hour) or weeks (per day).
4. Seek Help
While the above controlling and maintaining techniques can help reduce the possibilities of mental health problems, sometimes you’ll need more Help. Everyone goes through different levels of hardship, and some people find it easier to control than others. This is entirely normal. Just like some people being better at soccer than football, not everyone is built the same.
Talking about mental health issues can massively reduce the effect it has on our lives. First, however, you’ll want to speak to the right people. You’ll either need to express your issues with a family member, close friend, mentor, or therapist, practically anyone that wants to help.
In today’s modern world, there are endless possibilities for Help. You can either call, write, message online, or through an application to someone experienced in supporting mental health. This allows people struggling to have the opportunity to contact someone in a way that they’re comfortable.
By reaching out to someone, you’ll notice a reduction in anxiety, increased self-esteem, improvements in relationships, and enhancements on various other mental health-related emotions. Including this, you’ll quickly discover that you’re not alone, and many people from all types of backgrounds are experiencing similar issues.
After becoming knowledgeable on the above, I’m sure you can start to develop a better understanding of how you can reduce mental health issues from occurring. Acting upon any of the above can help you manage stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it would be best if you took action when you believe you’re showing signs of these illnesses. Acting sooner rather than later will undoubtedly be the better option.