By Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy
This year has been filled with sources of stress that are likely taking a toll on your mood and mental well-being.
As COVID-19 cases began to rise across the country, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of adults in the U.S. felt the pandemic is affecting their mental health. Fear surrounding personal health and the health of loved ones, loss of employment, financial worries and feelings of isolation resulting from the pandemic are prevalent. These stressful conditions can also lead to new or increased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The Census Bureau recently reported that 34 out of every 100 American adults are showing signs of anxiety, depression, or both. With so many factors impacting our state of mind, it is more important than ever to take an active approach toward promoting mental wellness.
There are many natural approaches that can help boost your mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Eat a healthy diet. A proper diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health, yet nearly 40% of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress. Studies have shown that a diet that is high in overly processed food and low in micronutrients can lead to greater levels of anxiety and depression. Instead, follow a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and whole grains. Balanced meals and drinking enough water can be a great start to helping reduce stress. Keeping your blood sugars stable creates a feeling of calm with less worry.
- Correct nutritional imbalances. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to an array of health issues, including changes in mood. The CDC says over 95% of the population has serious nutritional deficiencies. For a mental health boost, consider introducing supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, amino acids, probiotics, iron, GABA and CoQ10. A blood test can be performed to determine nutrient levels, helping identify areas where nutritional support may be needed.
- Exercise regularly. Beyond its many physical health benefits, exercise also serves as an all-natural mood booster. When we exercise, our bodies release feel-good endorphins, which can result in improved mental well-being. In fact, many experts believe that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for those with mild to moderate depression.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is a critical factor for health and wellness, and lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Disconnect from your electronic devices and create a bedtime routine that calms your mind and relaxes your body so that you can get a restful night of sleep.
- Consider CBD. Full-spectrum, pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol, or CBD, is linked to a variety of mental health benefits, including relief for anxiety and depression. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. We have cell receptors everywhere in our bodies, and CBD will bind to the brain receptors responsible for controlling your nerves, which ultimately keep you feeling less anxious and more in control.
- Practice self-care. Create balance in your life and pursue your passions. Small steps such as meditating, learning something new or enjoying a hobby can help bring joy. When we are feeling fulfilled and at our best, we are better prepared to handle life’s stressful situations.
- Maintain your community. Friendships can bring new perspective and keep us grounded. Even while distancing physically, you can remain connected with friends and loved ones by phone or online. Consider creating a buddy system with a friend that will keep you accountable and ensure you are interacting regularly.
Everyone perceives and reacts differently to stressful situations. However, a proactive approach to promoting both physical and mental health can help prevent or reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Before introducing new lifestyle changes or supplements into your routine, it is important to speak to a medical professional or pharmacist that can help determine any risks, side effects or negative interactions with other medications you may be taking.