Good morning from your SEAC counselors! This week is Health Education Week. You may be wondering why the SEAC counselors are posting about this, but did you know physical health can impact mental health? A clear distinction is often made between 'mind' and 'body'. But when considering mental health and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate. It is important to recognize that when we take care of our physical health, we are also taking care of our mental health too! Many things can impact mental health, we will highlight just a few main ones:
Exercise- Research shows that doing exercise influences the release and uptake of feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. From tending your garden to running a marathon, even gentle forms of exercise can significantly improve your quality of life.
Diet- Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel. A healthy balanced diet is one that includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The food we eat can influence the development, management and prevention of numerous mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Smoking- Many people with mental health problems believe that smoking relieves their symptoms, but these effects are only short-term. Nicotine in cigarettes interferes with the chemicals in our brains. Dopamine is a chemical which influences positive feelings, and is often found to be lower in people with depression. Nicotine temporarily increases the levels of dopamine, but also switches off the brain's natural mechanism for making the chemical. In the long term, this can make a person feel as though they need more and more nicotine in order to repeat this positive sensation.
Sleep- Sleep and mood are closely connected; poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress, while healthy sleep can enhance well-being. Chronic insomnia may increase the risk of developing a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Suggested amounts of sleep are below:
Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
9–12 hours per 24 hours
8–10 hours per 24 hours
7 or more hours per night
As always, if you have any questions about your child(ren)’s mental health, please feel free to contact your Bethel SEAC Team.