It may seem like there is a day for everything: National Girlfriend’s Day, National Coffee Day, and now World Mental Health Day? Before you write it off as just another pointless holiday, let’s take a deep breath and review its significance. You just might find that World Mental Health Day is far more impactful and far more valuable than it seems.
World Mental Health Day was established on October 10th 1992, as an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. We want to continue fighting the preconceived notions around seeking assistance for mental health, because mental health is health.
This World Mental Health Day , the American Heart Association wants to shed light on the importance of total well-being because research indicates that an optimistic frame of mind has been shown to be associated with healthy aging and a lower risk of CVD, including stroke and heart failure, and a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
Multiple studies have found that improved mental health and optimism are associated with healthier behaviors such as more physical activity, not smoking, healthy diet score, better sleep quality, and higher composite cardiovascular health scores.
Inversely, when people are stressed, anxious or depressed, they may feel overwhelmed, so they’re not apt to make healthy lifestyle choices. They may be more likely to smoke more, not be physically active, sleep too little or too much, drink too much alcohol and fail to take their prescribed medications. Over time, these unhealthy behaviors can increase the risk for heart disease.
Heart-Healthy Habits: Food is Mood
Eating nutritious foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t just great for your physical health; it’s a boost for your mood too! Have you ever felt hangry (hungry + angry)? That’s because food and mood influence one another. By practicing mindful eating you can better understand how they interact so you can make good diet choices and avoid emotional or impulse eating.
If you want to put healthier eating habits on the menu, mindfulness may be a simple and effective place to start! It’s not about dieting or restrictions – it’s about taking a moment to take it in.
Try these easy ways to incorporate mindful eating into your day, so you can Eat Smart at every meal:
- Ponder: Check in with yourself about your hunger before you eat – you may actually be thirsty, bored or stressed.
- Appraise: Take a moment to take it in. How does it smell? Do you really want it? Is it more than you need?
- Slow: Slow down so your brain can keep up with your stomach. Put your fork down between bites and focus on the flavor.
- Savor: Enjoy your food. Take a moment to savor the satisfaction of each bite – the taste, texture, everything!
- Stop: Stop when you’re full – there’s no need to join the clean plate club if it means overeating.
Try one or more of these tactics to help you eat more mindfully. And for more ways to be Healthy for Good, visit heart.org/healthyforgood
Taking a moment for yourself is key for both mental and heart health. Whether it’s a deep breath, a walk in nature, or just a moment of quiet, these small mindful moments can do wonders. Remember, self-care is not selfish!
Meditation and mindfulness are practices — often using breathing, quiet contemplation or sustained focus on something, such as an image, phrase or sound — that help you let go of stress and feel more calm and peaceful. Think of it as a mini-vacation from the stress in your life! Stress is your body’s natural alarm system. It releases a hormone called adrenaline that makes your breathing speed up and your heart rate and blood pressure rise. It kicks us into action, which can be a good thing when we’re faced with a real danger or need to perform.
Here’s a great guided meditation video that we created in 2020:
Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for the positive things in life. Gratitude can improve one’s mental health by enhancing mood, happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. It may also reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and negative thoughts. Gratitude is pertinent to strengthening empathy, kindness, and generosity.
Here are a few quick tips to help you get in the habit of practicing gratitude!:
Now, we’ll express our gratitude to you for reading our article.
And one more thing, if you are feeling overwhelmed and need someone to talk to, there is the suicide prevention helpline that you can reach at 988. You may call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 911 in life-threatening situations. Additionally, if you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company . They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need.