The month of May is dedicated to raising awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 9 million people who abuse drugs or alcohol also have a co-occurring mental health diagnosis. And if this is you or someone you love, this is your month to take charge of your health.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Month, created by Mental Health America (MHA), is Fitness #4Body4Mind. The overall message: Your mental health is inseparable from your physical health and that means diet, exercise, sleep, stress management and even gut health all play a role in feeling your best.
In fact, by simply eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish and unsaturated fats, you can reduce your risk of depression – and it works the other way, too. People who consume a diet of highly processed, fried and sugary foods can increase the risk of developing depression by a whopping 60%.
While there’s no magic food to fend off mental illness, it certainly can’t hurt to include healthy eating as part of your overall treatment plan. One study found that 1/3 of participants with depression experienced full relief of their symptoms after improving their diet, according to MHA.
There’s also a strong link between having mental health problems and having gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation and/or diarrhea. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to get probiotics and prebiotics, which help keep your gut happy, into your diet.
Here are some more tips from MHA on how to care for your mental health this month and beyond. And here’s the best part: If you’re struggling with a co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder, these tips will help strengthen your mind and body as you fight to stay sober.
• Think bite-sized exercise. Schedule in 10 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity, 15 times per week, and add muscle strengthening activities to your routine twice a week. If you or someone you love suffers from schizophrenia, yoga is the most effective form of exercise for reducing symptoms, notes MHA.
• Strive for 7 to 9 hours of sleep. This is the ideal amount of sleep for 18- to 64-year-olds, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And if you struggle with quality sleep, don’t ignore it. Unfortunately, poor sleep and mental health are bedfellows: sleep troubles impact 50% to 80% of people under the care of a psychiatrist, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population, according to MHA.
• Make time to manage stress. Chronic stress can cause a host of health issues and just make life that much more difficult to handle. MHA suggests relaxation techniques like meditation, visualization or a soothing hobby like gardening or painting. And don’t strive for perfection or take on too much; be kind to yourself and be patient with the new sober life you’re building.
Help for Co-Occurring Disorders
Many people struggling with addiction also find themselves caught in the painful grip of depression, mood disorders, panic disorders or other serious mental health issues. Family Recovery Specialists understands the sensitive relationship between substance abuse and mental health problems. Our Miami addiction rehab uses evidence-based treatment approaches that focus on the whole person in the mind, body, spirit and social realms. To learn more about our co-occurring disorder treatment, call today: 305-595-7378.