Your physical health can be slightly complicated…but also entirely simple.
Let me explain:
It’s complicated because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to “attaining good physical health”. We’re all completely different! There are SO many external factors that play a role in determining our physical health – genetics, hormones, environment, gender, age, etc etc.
But I’d like to put the confusing world of genetics and hormones aside for a minute. Because no matter what the external factors may be, there are still some totally universal and totally effective ways of making sure your physical health is in the BEST condition possible.
Now this is where it gets nice and simple! In fact, it’s so simple that a lot of people tend to overlook it. This is such a shame too, because your physical health is what’s really going to make or break your mental health.
So in this post, I’ll be exploring the four universal, effective, and super crucial ways to take care of your physical body in order to strengthen and heal your mind.
So let’s get physical!
Just want to let ya know: The information and tips on this website are from my personal experience with anxiety and are not a substitute for any type of medical, psychological or health advice. My goal is to empower people struggling with anxiety in non-traditional ways that they can do alongside professional help.
There is always help out there, and you can find a mental health professional locally, through your doctor, or through an online directory like this one. This is a link to a great article with affordable therapy options and this is an affiliate link to a great online therapy option. If you are in a crisis, there’s a list of help hotlines here. You are not alone!!
1) Exercise (even a little bit!) every single day
Exercise is such a quick way of boosting your mood and alleviating anxiety. I mean, know they say “quick-fix” solutions never work, but honestly, this one does.
One study even found that exercise may be just as effective as taking anti-anxiety medication! It’s all thanks to those magic little hormones we call endorphins. The best part? It doesn’t matter what exercise you do – it’s allll good, and it allll helps.
PLUS, because exercise makes you feel so good, it also has the added benefit of giving you a clearer and more positive outlook on life. This is especially helpful when you’re dealing with a particularly stressful situation (which let’s be honest, we all are every now and then!).
So if you feel like you’re in a rut, get moving!
It can be as simple as doing 5 minutes of walking/running per day, or squeezing in a 15 minute yoga session in the morning. And hey, if that’s not for you, try jamming out to some music in your room (I’ve found this one to be particularly effective!).
2) Eat foods that are good for your body and your brain
There always seems to be a heated debate online about what the “proper” diet is (is it paleo, keto, or the south beach diet? Who knows!). But when it comes to your mental health, it’s really not that complicated.
In reality, all you have to do is eat a diet high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Foods like these are jam-packed with all the essential nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, happy, and anxiety-free.
Seriously, it’s that simple!
The connection between nutrients in foods and anxiety has only recently been studied by scientists, but it’s gaining more and more popularity as new discoveries emerge.
And the simple truth is: eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, some healthy fats, and some grains. Here’s my article on the best nutrients for anxiety and where to get them!
It can be hard to eat healthy when you’re feeling mentally low and you don’t feel like doing much of anything, but if you can make some healthy switches (like olive oil instead of margarine) and find ways to just add and snack on some healthy fruits and veggies – you will quickly notice that you’ll be feeling more energized and more mentally resilient!
3) Avoid these anxiety-inducing foods (as much as is reasonable)
Every yin comes with its yang. Just like there are foods that decrease anxiety, there are also foods that increase anxiety – and these are the ones that you’re going to want to look out for.
Here are the top offenders:
Sugar, refined grains, and other processed foods: they may be downright scrumptious, but these foods also have a nasty little habit of causing energy spikes and crashes. This can then lead you to feel more anxious, irritable, jittery, fatigued, and just downright not great in general.
Alcohol: when you drink alcohol, you’re actually slowing down the activity of your brain and nervous system. While this can feel nice at the time, it often leaves you feeling quite sluggish afterwards (hence the “hangover blues”).
Caffeine: caffeine is the opposite of alcohol – it doesn’t slow you down, it speeds you up! In fact, it actually mimics the physical symptoms of anxiety. Yikes! If you have anxiety, I suggest switching your morning coffee for a decaf.
Remember: moderation is key
You are always allowed – and encouraged – to treat yourself every once and awhile. It’s totally up to you to gauge how much is too much and how much is juuuuust right.
Related Article: 8 Best Nutrients for Improving Your Mental Health
4) Take a minute to really relax
Taking a break and allowing you body and mind to unwind is another key in combatting anxiety.
I know, I know – saying that we have to “relax” in order to reduce anxiety may sound a bit on the obvious side, but I’m only saying it because it’s WAY too often forgotten about. In the ultra hectic, uber fast-paced world we live in, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle mentality and forget to just take a breather (literally!).
There are a lot of different techniques that can help you relax – whether it’s doing yoga, meditating, going for a walk, reading a book, having a tea – the list goes on and on.
When you begin taking care of your physical body, you’ll begin the process of healing your mind at the exact same time!
So if you’re unsure where to START your journey on overcoming your anxiety, taking care of your physical body should be at the TOP of your list.
Final thoughts and reminders
Your physical health is the most important element of your mental health – you cannot have a healthy mind without first having a healthy body
Taking proper care of your body is much simpler than most people think – you just have to do 4 things: exercise, eat healthy foods, limit the “anxiety foods”, and incorporate stress reduction practices.
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