Modified and used with permission Dr Paul Looney.
If you want to optimise your mental health following a traumatic injury, the following recommendations may assist you. Be patient with yourself. Over time, small changes can produce big results.
- Research shows aerobic exercise to be effective in preventing & treating depression and anxiety disorders.
- Exercise helps to reduce anger & irritability
- You need at least 20 mins of cardiovascular exercise, three times per week
- Exercise helps with maintaining your healthy weight, sleep, alertness & energy
- Eating a well-balanced diet has a great benefit to mental health, as the body is designed to function best when its needs are met
- It is important to feed your body regularly and maintain a healthy variety and balance to your diet
- Research shows breakfast to be a critical meal
- Avoid ‘empty calories’ or ‘junk food’ – highly processed foods high in sugar, white flour, fats, & excessive caffeine
- Drink plenty of water
- Multi-vitamin – improves your overall health
- B-complex – helps with energy, anxiety, depression
- Fish oil / Omega 3 fatty acids - is good for brain & heart health
- Melatonin - natural sleep hormone
Keeping a Journal
Write down your thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behaviour. Has been shown to boost your mental health. A person who journals has increased self-awareness & may be able to better release regret, frustrations & worries. Keeping a journal can positively integrate your negative experiences. Regularly making a gratitude list will improve your mood.
Individuals with strong faith and spiritual discipline can enjoy more contentment and joy. Faith and peace can grow through participation in a spiritual community, by prayer, meditation, reading inspiration or religious texts and by being in nature.
Discovering what you really enjoy and incorporating it into your daily routine is of great benefit. Finding a way to express one’s self through a creative outlet has been found to enhance life satisfaction and helps to minimise symptoms & episodes of mood disorders. Drawing, painting, gardening, writing poetry or prose, playing a musical instrument, cooking and interior design are a few examples of creative endeavours. Utilising your gift will give you a sense of self-worth and satisfaction as you express yourself creatively. Appreciating beauty is important.
Stress and burnout will paralyse and rob us of our self-worth. By helping others you will feel more valuable. We may be tempted to withdraw from relationships just when we need to press in and build friendships. Send a card to someone, pick a flower, make a meal for another. Focusing on another takes the pressure off yourself. Have a mentor, be a mentor.
Having a sense of direction and purpose in life is very important in maintaining a healthy attitude, especially in times of adversity. Writing your goals will help you overcome huge obstacles and achieve them. We tend to set short term goals too high and long-term goals too low.
Rest & Retreat
A day of rest each week is vital to avoid burnout, & twice a week can be hugely restorative. Try and get away for a personal retreat twice a year for several days to renew and reconnect with your soul.