We seem to be in an epidemic of mental health problems. It’s hardly surprising given the toxicity of the modern world.
Statistics are showing that there are higher levels of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses than ever before.
And this is is particularly true among young people.
On a individual level this raises the question as to whether there is anything we can do in our personal lives in order to avoid these conditions.
Nobody is suggesting that it is possible for everyone to avoid all mental health problems.
However, are there things that you should, or should not do, in order to keep your mind healthy?
Many scientists agree that there ARE things you can do to maintain a healthy mind.
A Sound Mind, in a Sound Body
There is a certain amount of truth behind the Latin phrase ‘mens sana in corpore sano’, which means ‘a sound mind in a sound body’.
Clearly people who have chronic problems with their physical health often suffer with mental health problems.
This is not altogether surprising given how hard it is to cope with constant pain, or a debilitation that goes with a long-term physical health problem.
On a more superficial level, looking after yourself physically can also make you feel better about yourself.
What, though, can you actually do in order to keep your mind healthy?
A good diet is not only essential for your physical health but a growing body of evidence now suggests that it also makes a huge difference to your mind.
The Mental Health Foundation notes that a good diet can play a role in the development, management and prevention of several specific conditions, including schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer’s disease.
That is not to say that diet can control these conditions, nor that it should be looked upon as a panacea or cure-all, or that other treatments should be stopped in favour of a particular diet.
However, diet may play a role, alongside other treatments, in the management of these conditions.
The Mental Health Foundation also notes that fewer than half of those who report mental health problems consume fresh fruit every day, compared with more than two thirds of those who do not report mental health problems.
There is little doubt that feelings of health and well-being are more likely if you consume a balanced diet, with the correct balance of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.
Keeping your Mind Active
There has been plenty of speculation about useful ways to slow down brain degeneration as you age and in particularly, how it might be possible to overcome Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
One suggestion is that doing crosswords, and other puzzles or ‘brain-training’ that keep your brain active, might be helpful.
However, this is less helpful than doing some form of physical exercise.
This is because doing puzzles only occupies a small part of your brain and does not do anything for the rest of your body.
Exercise, can mean simply taking a walk each day and/or doing sits up and stretches.
Deep breathing exercises are also extremely helpful. For more on how deep breathing can help read –> Surviving This Toxic World
However, if for some reason you cannot do any form of physical exercise, then doing puzzles is considered to be better than nothing.
Your ‘Mind Diet’
There is more to mental health and developing a ‘good’ mind than simply wanting to avoid dementia or other mental illnesses.
The mind is shaped by all the experiences, ideas and thoughts to which it is exposed.
“Garbage in, garbage out”
It follows therefore that you can choose what you ‘feed’ to your mind, in exactly the same way as you choose what you feed to your body.
What you choose to to feed to your mind can be described as your ‘mind diet’.
Your ‘mind diet’ can make your mind more or less ‘healthy’, and certainly more or less interesting.
People talk about books that are ‘trash’ or ‘pulp fiction’. By this they mean that light, easy reading that does not challenge the mind.
The ‘Good’ Mind
Reading a book like this every now and again does you no harm, just like an occasional visit to a hamburger joint will not affect your overall health.
However, everyone knows that a diet of junk food alone is not good for the body, so it follows that a diet of undiluted pulp fiction is not good for the mind.
It is worth taking a few moments to consider your ‘mind diet’ every now and then.
How good is my mind diet? Is it what I would describe as a ‘balanced diet’, of different types of ideas and subjects? Or do I tend to focus more on one type of input?
In particular, what is the balance between ‘junk’ and ‘healthy’ mind-food?
What effect is this having on me as a person? You might need to ask friends and family to give you an honest assessment if you are concerned about this.
What can and should I do to improve the balance?
Social media, Smartphone addiction and Mental health
Growing evidence suggests that there is a strong association between smartphone use, particularly social media use, and poor mental health.
It is not entirely clear what causes this.
However, there is considerable speculation that social media leads people to make comparisons between their own life, and the carefully curated lives that they see on screen.
And that’s not good for anyone’s mental health.
It has also been speculated that ‘fear of missing out’ drives people to remain constantly connected to their social media channels in case they ‘miss’ something important.
Social media was designed to be addictive
It is important for anyone using social media to understand that it was designed to be addictive.
The currency of ‘likes’, shares and RT’s etc supplies not only external validation but it also releases various chemicals in our brains.
Among these these chemicals are Dopamine and Serotonin which are commonly known as our ‘feel good’ chemicals.
The rapid changes in social media content/notifications/bleeps and the built-in ability to just keep scrolling on and on and on also discourages any time-bound use of these platforms.
For more information on this aspect of social media read this report in Science Focus on how Social media is designed to be addictive.
Slide to Power Off
There is growing evidence of how important it is to get into the habit of switching off your smartphone periodically – and not just at night.
For example, many schools are now banning phone use during the school day. Some have even banned phones from the premises. This helps young people to ‘switch off’.
Many employers also accept that the pressure of being permanently connected is damaging to people’s mental health and are now taking action to protect their employees.
For example, some are encouraging their staff to have someone else change their email password before they leave for a holiday so that they cannot check their emails while away.
In France, workers now have a legal right not to check emails or receive work calls outside working hours.
In order to resist pressure to be ‘always available’ tell people that you will be turning off your phone off – and then do so.
If you are struggling to construct an ‘ideal’ mind diet, then try thinking about someone whom you admire. Then consider what kinds of thoughts, ideas and experiences may have shaped their mind.
Then think about what that that kind of thinking would do for you.
Anonymous would like to end by saying mental illness can effect anyone, regardless of their lifestyle. If this affects you, you should always consult a doctor.
Anonymous is not suggesting that you can cure mental illness by simply consuming the right diet or by taking exercise although common sense suggests that the benefits would outweigh any inconvenience.
Turning off your smartphone periodically will also likely to pay you huge dividends.
I leave you now with a poem called Switch Off which was written by Trina Graves in August 2020.
Switch off those repeats
We’ve seen them all before
The story doesn’t change
We just embed them more
Repeating doesn’t develop
Our minds to seek and grow
Stagnant or little flowing
Evolution remains slow
Change is a part of life
Constantly unfolding, if we let
Higher Wisdom be our goal
Not building a dam to set
Switch off those old programmes
They are all in the past
Old stories, old ideas
Not meant to ever-last
Switch off mainstream news
So well-known to be fake
High drama, pushing, selling
Little truth in stories they make
Controlled by dark forces
Pushing an agenda worldwide
The presenters often caught
In a web of deceit they abide
Switch off social media
Unless we strongly discern
Filtering out the lies and hate
Peace and love our only concern
Sharing, supporting humanity
In joyful, compassionate ways
Ever mindful of our presence
Giving Love throughout our days
Peace and Tranquility.
Author: Michael W
Special Thanks to