Boosting your mental health. 5 natural ways to boost your mental health during stressful times.

Can you boost your mental health in these difficult times? Yes you can and no specialist equipment is required. Here are 5 ways to boost your mental health.

First natural way to boost your mental health. Get enough exercise

Scientists believe exercise increases blood circulation to the brain, especially areas like the amygdala and hippocampus — which both have roles in controlling motivation, mood and response to stress. For one thing, it releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormones.

High-intensity interval training, however, increased stress and inflammation. It’s possible intense exercise could make an already stressed-out system more jittery, “especially in individuals who were not accustomed to exercise,” said study author Jennifer Heisz in an article she wrote.

“A brisk walk, jog or bike ride can help keep you calm and healthy during these uncertain times,” said Helsz, who is an associate professor in kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Second natural way to boost your mental health. Focus on sleep

There’s another benefit of exercise — it will improve your sleep quality, one of the best things you can do to ease stress and boost your mood. There’s an additional benefit to a better snooze. You’ll be protecting your heart, improving your brain and reducing your desire to snack.

It’s not just about sleeping longer, either. You’re trying to give your body time to go through enough sleep cycles to repair itself, which means going from light sleep to deep and back again. Set yourself up for success by developing good sleep habits that will train your brain for restorative sleep.

Third natural way to boost your mental health. Deep breathing

Something as simple as taking deep, slow breaths can do amazing things to our brain and therefore our stress, experts said.

Deep breathing realigns the stressed-out part of our bodies, called the the sympathetic system, with the parasympathetic, or “rest and restore” system, Ackrill explained.

Fourth natural way to boost your mental health. Take up yoga.

Yoga, of course, is a form of physical exercise. In additon to releasing endorphins, yoga can regulate the body’s central stress response system, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and improves sleep quality, said Jacinta Brinsley, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Australia.

Two traditional Chinese exercises, tai chi and qi gong, have also been shown to be excellent stress reducers. Both are low-impact, moderate-intensity aerobic exercises that contain a flowing sequence of movements coupled with changes in mental focus, breathing, coordination and relaxation.

Fifth natural way to boost your mental health. Meditation.

But you don’t have to devote your life to meditation to see change, said Richard Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds, the institute that did the research on the monks.

Davidson, who is a professor of psychology and psychiatry, pointed to the results of a randomized controlled trial of people who’ve never meditated before. Using direct measures of brain function and structure, he found it only took 30 minutes a day of meditation practice over the course of two weeks to produce a measurable change in the brain.

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