by Simel Bey, DAOM (c), L.Ac, AAHAS

It is an undisputed fact that the mind, the body and the soul are all interconnected. This is due to the fact that every thought we have sets of a reaction in the cells of our nervous system which leads to a cascade of events in other parts of our body.

The Mind Affects The Body

As a result of the above cascade, a problem in the mind can lead to problems in the body. This is demonstrated by the development of stress-related illnesses like high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, insomnia and back pain in persons working in mentally stressful environments.

In these situations, the conditions affecting the body are usually treated by treating the mind. This is often done through meditation which puts the mind in a state of quiet, restful awareness which helps the body rest deeply and in turn it causes a reduction of in blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia and many of the effects of chronic stress on the body.

The Body Affects The Mind

The reverse is also true. Improvement in body can also lead to the improvement of mental illness. This can be achieved through eating, exercising, sleeping, gardening and laughing.

Eat to Improve Mental Illness

Studies have shown that imbalances in the levels of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin cause depression and obsessive compulsive disorders. Eating foods which increase the levels of this chemical messenger can relieve the symptoms of these conditions.

Therefore improve your mental health by consuming ample amounts of wheat germ, peanuts,

kidney beans, potatoes, bananas, eggs, chicken, liver, dairy products and whole grains like oatmeal.

Exercise to Improve Mental Illness

Studies have shown that physical exercise improves anxiety and depression. Exercise also reduces the harmful effects of stress through the release of endorphins which are the body’s “feel good” hormones.

Therefore improve your mental health by engaging in aerobic exercises like brisk walking, swimming and jogging as well as non-traditional exercises like dancing. Ensure that you do these activities for around 20 - 30 minutes three or four times each week for the best results.

Sleep to Improve Mental Illness

Sleep is important for mental well-being since sleep deprivation has been shown to contribute to

depression. In addition, when a person is well-rested they can deal with stress more effectively.

Therefore improve your mental health by scheduling six to eight hours for sleep each night. For the optimum results, ensure that your sleep cycles correspond to the rhythms of the world around you.

Garden to Improve Mental Illness

A study done in Netherlands found that gardening was effective for relieving stress. In addition, a harmless bacteria known as Mycobacterium vaccae which is normally found in dirt, has also been shown to increase the production of serotonin.

Therefore improve your mental health by scheduling time to garden because of its innate stress

relieving properties and also so that you can come in contact with the serotonin boosting bacteria.

Laugh to Improve Mental Illness

Laughter has been shown to reduce the production of stress hormones, relieve pain and boost the immune system.

Therefore improve your mental health by ensuring that you laugh at least once a day by watching comedy or reading funny books.

The Spirit Affects The Mind

Pray to Improve Mental Illness

Studies suggest that persons who obtain comfort from spiritual activities like praying and meditation are better able to cope with stress. These persons also have a better general well being since their religious activities give purpose and meaning to their life.

Therefore improve your mental health by scheduling time to engage in spiritual activities that

connect you to a higher power like praying and meditating.