6 Ways to Naturally Support Your Mental Health‡
Learn the connection between your physical and mental health
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During the month of May across North America, individuals, organizations, and companies come together to raise awareness and openly discuss the importance of mental health.‡
For too long, society overlooked the importance of mental health and the connections between mental and physical health. The good news is that today, people are more open about discussing mental health, however, there is still lots of work to be done. ‡
It is important to acknowledge that everyone, at some point in life may experience mental health challenges. Consider these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:1
- More than 1 in 5 US adults live with a mental illness.
- Over 1 in 5 youth (ages 13-18) either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.
- About 1 in 25 US adults lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
From childhood through to adulthood, your mental health is as equally important as your physical health. Your mental health impacts how you think, act, and feel on a daily basis.1
Warning Signs of Mental Health Challenges
Mental health challenges include a wide range of conditions such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and addictive behaviors.2
Signs and symptoms of mental health challenges may affect your physical, emotional, and social health and behaviors. The warning signs of mental health challenges vary based on the condition and individual. 2
According to the American Psychiatric Association, 50% of mental health challenges begin by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.3
These signs and symptoms may be indicators of a mental health challenge:2,3
- Appetite or sleep changes
- Mood changes including depression, anger, or irritability
- Social withdrawal from activities, hobbies, and social settings
- Behavioral changes at work, school, home, and socially including lack of interest, drop in marks, or unusual challenges at school or work
- Struggles with concentration, thinking, decision-making, memory, and conversation
- Heightened fatigue or tiredness
- Challenges with sleeping or low energy
- Enhanced sensitivity or reactions to smells, sights, sounds, or touch
- Erratic or illogical thinking or behaviors in response to events, news, people, or ideas
- Suspicion, fear, or nervousness of other people or organizations
- Increased or new use of drugs and alcohol, including new addictive behaviors
The American Psychiatric Association stresses that early intervention may help reduce the severity of a mental health condition and how it affects the quality of life.3
If you recognize any of these signs of mental health challenges in yourself, a friend, or a family member – do not hesitate to speak up and ask for help, please contact your healthcare practitioner or mental health specialist.2
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help immediately:2
- Dial 911 or your local emergency number
- Call your doctor or mental health specialist
- Call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
- Connect with a trusted friend or family member
6 Natural Lifestyle Strategies to Help Support Your Mental Health‡
Your life experiences, genetics, and family history influence your mental health. While you cannot control these factors, these 6 lifestyle strategies may help you support your mental health and wellness.4,5,6
1. Get regular daily exercise Any type of exercise you enjoy may help boost your mood, relieve stress, help you clear your head, and improve your overall health. Choose something you can make a daily habit such as a 30-minute walk, a yoga session, a weight workout, gardening, or meeting up with friends for a team activity.
2. Make sleep a priority Disrupted or not enough sleep may contribute to mental health symptoms and challenges. Establishing a sleep schedule, limiting the use of devices and screens before bed, reducing caffeine, and making sure you have a comfortable bedroom may help you improve your sleep quality.
3. Step away from social media The cumulative impacts of social media may impact your mental health. Social media creates many ways to compare yourself to others, this may leave some people feeling jealous, unhappy, or disheartened about their own lives.8
The addictive nature of social media can take over, cutting into your sleep and distracting you from spending quality time with the people in your life.8
Try cutting back on your social media time or removing the apps from your phone.8
4. Focus on healthful and balanced nutrition
Your body and brain depend on balanced nutrition to thrive and stay healthy. Just as you consume extra protein after workouts or calcium for bone health support, your brain has nutrition demands as well.
Foods including berries, fatty fish, dark chocolate, bananas, beans, and whole grains contain nutrients that may support mood health, and wellness. Alcohol, excessive sugar, highly refined carbohydrates, and caffeine may heighten feelings of stress or anxiousness.
5. Build strong friendships
We are social animals and having strong connections with other people is essential to our overall health and wellness. Your friends, family members, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances may help reduce feelings of loneliness, provide emotional support, and contribute to meaningful conversations and habits.
It is easy to find ourselves too busy for social connections, but small things like calling a friend in the evening, meeting up with a neighbor for a pre-breakfast walk, or joining a book club – go a long way in helping you develop strong relationships.
6. Know your limits
Life is busy, and some days are harder than others. We all have our own personal limits on how much we can handle.
Know how much you can handle and be comfortable with slowing down. Try to carve out time for personal relaxation. Activities like reading, going for a solo walk, meditating, watching a favorite television program, or routines like folding the laundry, making a meal, or writing in your journal may help you slow down and manage your stress response.
These lifestyle strategies may help you support your mental health, but they are not solutions or treatments for mental health conditions. Remember, everyone needs help and support with their mental health.4
Do not hesitate to contact a friend, mental health specialist, or doctor when you don’t feel like yourself, notice changes in your daily habits, or experience a stressful event.4
Making Mental Health A Year-Round Priority
Your mental health is a key component of your whole-body health. We really like the way the World Health Organization (WHO) explains the importance of your mental health:9
- Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.
- Mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health.
- Mental health is determined by a range of socioeconomic, biological, and environmental factors.
This helps underscore the connection between your mental and physical health. Mental health challenges such as depression may increase your risk of developing heart complications, diabetes, and other long-lasting health conditions. And some physical health conditions may contribute to mental health challenges.1
And this is exactly why it’s so important to make mental health a year-round priority. Just as you work at your physical health with a focus on good nutrition, sleep, quality supplements, and exercise – these foundational habits also support your mental health.‡
Do not hesitate to contact your healthcare practitioner or mental health specialist when you’re not feeling like yourself. Remember the signs of mental health challenges and do not ignore these.‡
Consult your healthcare team before making changes to your nutrition, exercise, or supplements. Discuss all supplements, including the vitamins and minerals you take or plan to take, as these may interact differently with underlying health conditions and medication. Always follow the suggested use instructions and read the warnings on the supplement product label before consumption.
1About Mental Health: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
2Mental Illness: Mayo Clinic (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968
3Warning Signs of Mental Illness: American Psychiatric Association (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/warning-signs-of-mental-illness
48 Daily Habits to Boost Mental Health – and Signs It May Be Time to Get Support: Healthline (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/habits-to-improve-mental-health
531 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health: Mental Health America (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.mhanational.org/31-tips-boost-your-mental-health
6Caring for Your Mental Health: National Institute of Mental Health (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health
77 Simple Habits to Protect Your Mental Health: Psychology Today (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/lifes-work/202103/7-simple-habits-protect-your-mental-health
8Your Guide to Creating a Healthier Relationship with Social Media: Healthline (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/health/social-media-and-mental-health
9Health and Well-Being: World Health Organization (Accessed May 16, 2023) https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/major-themes/health-and-well-being
‡ These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University’s Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.