More than 44 million Americans suffer from a mental health condition, with one in six youth having experienced a major depressive episode. As a society, we haven’t found a way to tackle the issue in a way that will safeguard our overall long-term well-being. The use of antidepressant drugs in the United States rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014, but these carry an alarming risk of dependency, impairment and adverse reaction with other substances. However, prescription medication is not the only solution. We could be taking a more holistic approach to mental health by addressing some of the most common causes with proactive techniques.
What Are the Factors Affecting Mental Health?
Various factors contribute to the rise in mental health issues. Our always-on, hyper-connected lifestyle wreaks havoc with our concentration levels, sleep patterns and serotonin levels. Stress from work, lack of work or just getting to and from work can create anxiety, which can manifest itself as insomnia, inflammation or a weakened immune system. Prolonged exposure to stress can contribute to depression, which affects some 300 million worldwide. Here are some steps toward mental well-being that you may include in your daily or weekly regime.
1. Breathe Easily With the Wim Hof Technique
Using a combination of rapid breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and cold therapy (exposure to cold), Dutch athlete Wim Hof has baffled scientists with his ability to influence his autonomic nervous system in research conditions. This has allowed him to complete a marathon without drinking water and to meditate on top of a glacier. Practicing the Wim Hof method requires less than half an hour per day, but the alleged benefits to mental health include increased focus, more energy, improved sleep and better relaxation.
2. Practice Mindfulness With Yoga
With one in four Americans sleeping fewer than six hours a night, we’re in the grip of a sleep crisis. By reducing anxiety and sleeplessness, yoga can help address the causes of poor mental health. In one study using Kundalini meditation, participants reported an 11 percent increase in sleep quality after just eight weeks. That’s not all. Studies have shown that yoga can be effective in reducing chronic pain, alleviating depression and reducing inflammation in the body. As with the Wim Hof method, yoga can be integrated seamlessly into a busy lifestyle. Even one or two sessions a week will produce results.
3. Get Mood-Boosting Exercise
Studies confirm that regular exercise decreases overall tension, improves sleep and serves as a mood stabilizer. As little as five minutes of aerobic exercise can make a difference – and there really is no barrier for those who have yet to jump on the bandwagon. You don’t need to sign up for a gym membership. By simply cycling to work, walking instead of driving or taking a spin, dance or workout class during your lunch break, you can flood your body with endorphins and boost your overall well-being.
4. Strive Toward a Happier Diet
Breaking out of a cycle of fast food and sugar rushes is the first step to improving mental health, but some foods actually boost your mood. Moderate caffeine intake is linked to lower levels of depression as well as heightened alertness and improved cognitive function. There is a flip side, however: anything over six or so cups of coffee a day can have a detrimental effect on sleep patterns and exacerbate anxiety. Other foods with positive benefits include dark chocolate, which provides a gentle mood boost, and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as nuts and oily fish. These have been shown in studies to reduce depression and inflammation.
5. Sleep Like a Pro
Chronic insomnia or simply extended patterns of disturbed sleep have a drastic effect on mental health. Sleep and wellness are inextricably linked, which is one of the reasons that the frequency of insomnia is much higher among psychiatric patients (around 50 percent) than among the general population (10 to 18 percent of adults in the United States). Practicing healthy “sleep hygiene’” is the first step to taking control. It means banishing devices from the bedroom, setting a light and temperature balance that is conducive to sleep, and establishing a firm routine for bedtime.
6. Seek Sunlight
At some times of the year, the main cause of depression is literally out of our hands. The prolonged absence of sunlight during the winter months causes seasonal affective disorder, which interferes with the processes in the brain responsible for producing serotonin, limiting melatonin, and regulating the body’s circadian rhythms. Light therapy — using a special lamp that mimics the effects of sunlight — is one solution, but cognitive-behavioral therapy or natural treatments can also alleviate the symptoms.
Unleash the RESET Effect
While currently not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety, CBD can be integrated into all of the above activities as part of a balanced wellness regime. Made with plant-based ingredients THC-free CBD, RESET Balance is THC-free, pharmaceutical-grade, water-based CBD, the perfect addition to your wellness routine. Our water-based CBD delivery system facilitates optimal absorption, which can be up to 80% more than the traditional consumption of CBD oils.
The cyclical nature of depression and poor mental health can be interrupted — perhaps even erased — with a robust wellness regime incorporating some or all of the above methods. Because each takes its inspiration from a fortified immune system and more balanced neural activity in the brain, CBD is the ideal complement, since these are the areas where cannabidiol delivers its greatest benefits.