Oh, January! Between meeting family that you haven’t seen in a while, putting off work till the new year, indulging in holiday revelry and making plans to be a ‘new you’, the holiday season leaves a lot of pressure to contend with. Moreover, the shift from holiday-brain to work-brain can often be jarring.
Stress doesn’t just affect your ability to stick to your resolutions, though. It can affect your body with headaches, body aches or digestive problems and your mental health with anxiety, depression or restlessness. It’s safe to assume that stress is like the common cold of daily mental health. Can we not then conclude that there might be things you can do to build a sort of immunity to it? Yes, there absolutely are.
A #mental hygiene combo that has consistently provided positive stress-reducing results is #yoga, #meditation and healthy #sleep patterns.Click To Tweet
The concept of mental hygiene has been around since the 1910s, and although its use in popular culture has changed somewhat, the crux remains the same: a number of mental health issues are preventable. On a personal level, mental hygiene is spoken about in the same terms that we speak about basic physical hygiene. That is to say, if we wash our hands and brush our teeth to deal with physical stressors like germs, are there similar steps we can take to deal with mental stress? Turns out, a lot of the same things benefit your physical and mental immunity. These include:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well-balanced meals
- Exercising regularly
Measures that are specific to mental health include:
- Developing a support system (which could include friends or family)
- Prioritizing self-love and self-care
- Getting help when you need it
Psychiatrists believe that in some cases, measures such as these could make it easier to deal with life changes that may otherwise seem overwhelming.
A mental hygiene combo that has consistently provided positive results is yoga, meditation and healthy sleep patterns.
This is a highly effective weapon to add to your mental hygiene belt. In a national survey, 85% of respondents said that it helped with their stress levels. Yoga practitioners believe that it may be more efficient than other forms of exercise because it combines physical activity with self-awareness and compassion.
Considering the fact that yoga is not merely an exercise but also a philosophy with its own principles, there’s a lot more to be gained from it than just a workout. If you’re someone that’s sitting at a desk all day, you might find significant tension stored in your muscles. If you’re someone doing manual labor, you might find that there’s untapped tension in your mind. Yoga helps ease both of these.
It also trains one of the body’s foremost defenses against stress: the parasympathetic nervous system. Consistent practice of yoga reduces the production of daytime stress hormones and increases heart rate variability, an excellent indicator of general health and wellbeing.
Meditation, once you get the hang of it, is one of the most dynamic tools you can use to fight stress. You could use it as a quick-fix in a moment of anxiety and actually reverse your body’s physical stress response, or practice it daily to increase your mental resilience against stress. There are many ways to practice meditation, but all work towards a common goal: centering, balancing and focusing on the present. Research has found changes in the brains of regular meditation practitioners that are linked to a decreased reactivity to stress too.
How do I get there?
For someone with poor mental hygiene (think late nights, working too much, eating on the go, sporadic exercising) it might be too ambitious to change a handful of habits all at once. If that sounds like you, it would make sense to start slow. Set small, achievable goals like ‘I will go to bed at 10pm every night this week’ and build from there. A cheat code to making the process less daunting is trying the conjunction of your activities while taking CBD.
If you’ve never heard of CBD or cannabidiol, here are the basics you need to know:
- CBD or cannabidiol is a compound that comes from the cannabis plant. However, CBD is completely non-psychoactive and cannot get you high.
- CBD is thought to impact the endocannabinoid system – a regulatory system of the body that plays a role in keeping several other organ systems in balance. The more balanced your systems, the healthier you’ll be and the better you’ll feel.
- Numerous studies have been published about CBD’s ability to help with anxiety on its own.
- Because it improves the body’s stress response, CBD has been found to promote better sleep, but not by making you sleepy as one might assume. Instead, it combats insomnia at the source: it turns off the anxious chatter that causes you to lie awake tossing and turning.
- Preliminary studies also show that CBD might benefit sleep by reducing daytime sleepiness: keeping you alert and awake during the day so you’re sleepy when you hit the sack. CBD also helps with temperature regulation, an important factor in getting a good night’s rest.
- The fact that it is able to shut off that anxious chatter is what also makes it such an effective tool while meditating or doing yoga. It’s hard to get into the groove of ‘being in the moment’ for someone who’s never done it before, which is why so many people give up. CBD can help you achieve the benefits of meditation and yoga faster, helping you stick to the habit.
- There are many ingestion methods for CBD. Some of the most popular include: CBD drops, CBD softgels, and CBD gummies.
- This compound is gaining popularity specifically in combination with yoga. This may be linked to a feel-good chemical produced in the brain when you practice yoga called ‘anandamide’ or ‘the bliss molecule’. CBD stops anandamide from being quickly broken down in the brain, helping that good feeling stick around much longer.
It’s safe to say that CBD, meditation, yoga and sleep all strengthen stress responses independently, but also impact each other in powerful ways to magnify that effect.
What tools you add to your mental hygiene arsenal will obviously be specific to your schedule, lifestyle and interests. However, good sleep and exercise (in any form) are key to strengthening your mental defenses. And if kickstarting good habits seems intimidating in itself, you could always take some CBD to make that process easier.
What are your favorite ways to make your mind and body more resilent to stress?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.