5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Staying healthy is about more than paying attention to your physical body – your mental health directly influences how you think, feel, react, and maintain relationships. If you don’t take steps to promote your mental health, you may find that anxiety, depression, and irritability can take control of your life.

5 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health #MentalHealthWeek

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness, taking steps to improve your mental well-being can improve your physical health and help you maintain positive relationships.

Here are five tips you can use to help improve your mental health:

  1. Talk with those who care about you. Simply talking to friends, family members, or co-workers can help you overcome a personal problem and stay connected.
  2. Take a break from digital distractions. Although smartphones and other modern technology make it easy to stay connected with others, focusing too much on digital media can make it easy to ignore close relationships and the world around you. 5 Ways to Prevent Digital Overload
  3. Take care of your body. Your brain is still part of your physical, body, so it’s important to exercise regularly, maintain a health diet and get enough restful sleep. Exercising the Body and Brain
  4. Set realistic goals and focus on taking the first step. Many projects or errands can seem overwhelming when taken as a whole. Try planning out steps for large tasks and concentrate on what you need to do first.
  5. Get help when you need it. Although there can be negative social stigmas about seeking help for mental or emotional problems, mental health professionals are trained to help manage stress and mental illnesses with therapy or medication.

These tips have been provided by Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions. Scrivens is an Ottawa insurance broker and investment advisor dedicated to promoting health and safety for everyone.

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Become a Physically Active Family

Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Studies show that kids who are supported by friends and family or surrounded by active people and more likely to be active. Engaging in physical activity as a family can be a fun way to get everyone moving.

Benefits of Activity

Physical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It can help prevent chronic diseases, control weight, build lean muscle, reduce fat, and decrease the risk of obesity. Children need at least an hour every day of moderate to vigorous activity to maintain a healthy weight.

Active Families

Being active as a family increases opportunities for kids and families to be physically active. Here are some activities you and your family can consider to get started on a path to a healthier lifestyle.

  • Give children toys that encourage physical activity, such as balls, kites, and jump ropes.
  • Encourage children to join a sports team or to try a new physical activity.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Facilitate a safe walk to and from school several times a week.
  • Walk around the block after a meal.
  • Find time to spend together doing a fun activity, like family bike day, swim day, or skate day.
  • Make a new house rule: No sitting still during television commercials.
  • Issue a family challenge to commit to physical activity five days a week for six weeks.

Other Ways to Get Active

Increasing your family’s physical activity is not the only way to help your kids get active. Here are some other ways you can be involved:

  • Limit TV time and keep the television out of your child’s bedroom.
  • Talk to your children’s principal or write to your district superintendent to incorporate more physical education in schools.
  • Encourage schools to hold recess before lunch to increase physical activity before mealtime.
  • Volunteer to help with after-school physical activity programs or sports teams.

Source: www.participaction.com

Your child’s daycare MUST support these 4 healthy habits

Studies show that about 20 percent of children are overweight or obese by their sixth birthday; these children are four times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. To promote early childhood health, consider the following tips.

Screen Time

Children 2 years old and under should not be exposed to television, and children over age 2 should limit exposure to 1 to 2 hours of quality programming each day.

However, studies show that nearly 90 percent of children under age 2 watch television daily. Preschool children also watch more television than is recommended.

Other studies have shown links between television viewing and risk of preschool children being overweight.

Choosing a Child Care Facility

When choosing a child care facility for your children, consider its environment.

Physical Activity

Children need opportunities to be physically active through play and other activities. Physical activity helps them to obtain and improve motor skills, coordination, balance and control, strength, dexterity, and flexibility. Look for a child care centre that has a comprehensive activity policy and equipment to play on.

Healthy Eating

Eating well is important not only for preventing the risk of obesity, it is also important for the healthy development of young children. Look for a child care facility that focuses on nutritional quality of the food they serve.

You can help your child maintain healthy habits through the development of good habits for nutrition, physical activity, and screen time. You can also help by ensuring that your child’s surroundings promote healthy habits.

Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions has been protecting businesses, families, and lives since 1930.

Exercising the Body and Brain

healthy-person-woman-sportStudies have shown a strong relationship between the health of the body and the health of the brain. Exercise revs up complex processes inside the brain that can deter depression, help you stay calm and keep your mind sharp.

Exercise Boosts Mental Fitness

The brain has approximately 86 billion neurons designed to give orders to the rest of the body through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Studies show that deficiencies of two of these neurotransmitters (glutamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA), can lead to mood disorders such as depression. However, moderate exercise can increase the amounts of these two transmitters contributing to increased mental fitness.

Exercise Decreases Stress

When you’re stressed, your brain secretes the “fight or flight” hormone, cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can create a constant and unnecessary feeling of stress. But, if you exercise, you expose your body to “controlled stress”, which helps regulate your brain’s stress response, keeping you more calm.

Almost one-fourth of Canadians reports experiencing high levels of stress. When stress becomes overwhelming and interferes with your quality of life, it can cause health issues.

The following tips can help you reduce, manage, and avoid stress in your life:

  • Set realistic goals for yourself and allow yourself enough time to accomplish them.
  • Focus on what you can control, and avoid stressing about things you cannot change.
  • Have a positive attitude. Avoid negative thoughts.
  • Use available resources. If you need help, ask for it!
  • Breathe. Don’t feel bad about taking a break when you absolutely need to.
  • Consider regular meditation or exercise to help you stay focused and to curb stress before it appears.

Exercise Slows the Brain’s Aging Process

Your brain ages just like the rest of your body, but exercise can help the brain handle natural, age-related deterioration without taking a toll on your memory. Older adults who exercise have larger brain volumes than those who don’t. Plus, the brain’s hippocampus (which is responsible for memory and learning) is larger in people who are active. Exercising won’t make you smarter, per se, but it will help you remember things better as you age.

Grocery prices soar, don’t let your weight follow suit

bananasDoes tightening your grocery budget mean loosening your belt? It doesn’t have to. There are many ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle that don’t involve breaking the bank (even in these times of soaring produce prices).

Here are a number of ways you and your family can get and stay healthy without having to loosening your belt:

  • Purchase fruits and vegetables that are in season.  You will not only get relatively lower prices but you will also get fresher produce in the process. Opt for products that are the most bountiful at the grocery store. Look to see what fruits and veggies are on sale and then plan your weekly meals accordingly.
  • That being said, plan your meals before you shop. Knowing what meals you plan to eat for the week will prevent you from overbuying unnecessary food items.
  • Look for healthy bargains in your grocery store. This may be as simple as choosing oatmeal instead of sugary, expensive cereals for breakfast, buying beans instead of red meat; drinking frozen orange juice instead of pop or fruit juice with added sugar (better yet, drink water: Ottawa’s drinking water has been rated by the Ministry of the Environment as being amongst the safest in the world).
  • Quit smoking! A pack of cigarettes is expensive. If you quit, you will save on the cost of cigarettes and even more in medical bills, as you will be healthier without engaging in this habit.
  • Spring for a pedometer. Walking for a specific number of steps per day can help motivate you to reach your fitness goals. You can easily download a pedometer app on your mobile phone.
  • Exercise with a friend instead of joining a fitness club. Your friend will hold you accountable for working out, will cheer you on to succeed and will be with you as you make strides towards your fitness goals. If you don’t have a human companion to work out with 😦 walk or run with your dog on a regular basis :).

While buying something off the fast food menu may seem inexpensive and enticing, the costs to you will be far greater Grease-filled foods may contribute to significant health problems that will cost you in medical bills and time away from work, family and friends.

Finally, staying healthy is a struggle for almost everyone (myself included) but who isn’t excited for a challenge? My personal advice for the week is to find little challenges in your daily lives to accomplish your health goals.  These small challenges will snowball into larger challenges as you continue conquering your goals.

For example, I knew the buses were running hours late so instead of waiting in the cold for 2-3 hours for the 7 Carleton down Bank Street I chose to walk 45 minutes to my destination.  Not only did I arrive up to 2 hours and 15 minutes before the bus, I also walked 4.2 KM in the snow!

Good luck with your goals! Do you have any other tips??