A mind free of stress, worries, addictions, anxieties and other psychological problems allows a richer and more fulfilling life. A healthy and peaceful mind is the most natural condition for the mind that allows you to:
- Maintain physical wellbeing
- Have healthy relationships
- Make sound life choices
So, how do you develop a healthy mind that allows you to face the many challenges that life throws your way? Here are some steps to get started:
Are you finding it difficult to cope with everyday stresses of life? Are your thoughts and feelings getting the better of you?
Stressful and difficult situations can bring about emotions like anxiety, anger and sadness, making a person feel as if life is going out of control. Mindfulness is a training that can change the way you think, feel and act. Mindfulness combines breathing and yoga techniques and meditation to focus thoughts and feelings, leading to a calm mind, improved health and an enriched life.
A key aspect of mindfulness is being in the present and paying attention to the surroundings around you. Focusing on one sense at a time, it can help you leave behind chaotic thoughts, worries of past and future or random thoughts. A common technique used to focus on the present is focusing on the breath.
By paying close attention to inhalation and exhalation, it is possible to eliminate all thoughts of past and future and focus on the present moment. The exercise improves the power of concentration while bringing about a sense of calm and awareness. It also reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and allows a person to take charge of any addictive behaviour.
Make positive affirmations
Take a minute to observe your thoughts. Are they positive? Or are you affected by negative thoughts that are diminishing the quality of your life?
Self-talk is that voice in the head that constantly feeds thoughts in the head.
“I am not good enough.”
“I can never be healthy.”
“I cannot do this.”
These increase stress levels as they work on decreasing confidence levels and self-esteem.
Positive thinking, on the other hand, not only improves the way you feel but also helps manage stress better and keep calm. It allows you to tackle difficult situations in a better way without crumbing under pressure. Negative thoughts like the ones above can be turned into positive affirmations to self:
“I am capable and I trust my abilities.”
“I can take charge of my health.”
“Nothing is impossible.”
Practicing positive thoughts does not mean that you will never experience negative thinking again. It only means that you consciously convert a negative thought into a positive one and prevent getting influenced by the negative.
Keeping physically fit
Exercise boosts blood supply to the brain and improves cardiovascular activity. Exercise is beneficial in both preventing and treating mental illnesses.
Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk towards depression and dementia, and also improve stress and anxiety.
Staying fit brings in a feeling of happiness and being satisfied with life along with an overall sense of wellbeing. Exercise promotes a range of health benefits like better sleep, lowered stress levels and a boost in self-confidence, factors that combine to promote a healthy mind.
Eating a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables
Studies are beginning to show the benefits of many plant-based foods in protection against chronic illnesses. Being the most metabolically active organ in the body and being rich in lipids and fats, the brain is susceptible to oxidative stress.
Foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin A, C, and E, as found in berries and walnuts, are now known to promote healthy brain function by preventing or delaying oxidative damage.
Cultivate and manage social connections
Being socially isolated and living alone is a health problem as it can lead to memory loss and decline in mental ability, as is having an extensive social circle. A study showed the link between loneliness and Alzheimer’s disease studied in a group of adults over a period of few years.
A Swedish study shows how an extensive social network reduced the chances of dementia by 60 per cent as compared to people who lived alone. It is believed that leisure activities and socialising with friends and family can protect the brain and promote brain repair.
Keep stress levels manageable
Stress is not always bad for you; in fact, stress is a natural response to various situations. Through chemicals that are released in the process, our mind and body gets ready for a ‘fight or flight’ response, preparing you for focus and awareness levels to carry out the required action. However, stress for very long periods of time puts physical and mental wellbeing at risk, and increases your chances of developing conditions like anxiety and depression.
Good news is that you can take action to keep calm during the day. You can do the following:
- Practise deep breathing when you start to feel stressed. You can do it anywhere, at any time – at your work desk, while travelling or at home.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress hormones and stimulate the release of endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormones). Physical activity improves mood and helps release daily stress. You can also include physical activity during the course of the day too by taking a short brisk walk or opting for stairs instead of elevators.
“Calmer Minds, Better Health with Mindfulness,” Mayoclinic.com, http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/calmer-minds-better-health-with-mindfulness
“Connecting the mind and the body,” Mayoclinic.com, Amid Sood, M.D., http://healthletter.mayoclinic.com/editorial/editorial.cfm/i/450/t/Connecting%20the%20mind%20and%20the%20body/
“Mindfulness,” Bupa.co.uk, Nargis Mandry, Bupa Health Information Team, July 2013, http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/health-news-index/2013/Mindfulness
“8 lifestyle tips to help protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” WebMD.com,
Peter Jaret, http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/healthy-body-healthy-mind