There is a huge amount of research taking place all over the world to understand better, our mental health and how it is affected on a day-to-day basis. This research has been going on for over a hundred years, from doctors curing ‘hysteria’ by administering ‘pelvic massages’ through to the use of LSD for the treatment of anxiety and depression. We have come a long way from these early understandings of mental health, and although we still have a long way to go, one of the agreements that is coming out from neuroscientists around the world is the effect of diet, exercise and supplementation on our general mental health and wellbeing. So, what do neuroscientists say we should do to support our health and wellbeing?
We are all by now clear that exercise has a huge importance in our day-to-day wellbeing, but the effects on our mental health are quite substantial too. Dr. Taylor, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and Dr. Sallis adjunct professor at University of California, suggest that there is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise alleviate symptoms with mild to moderate depression, and is beneficial for everything from substance abuse recovery to improvement in self-image, social skills and cognitive function (1).
Tip: try including at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week to improve mood and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Reduce sensory overload
If you find it difficult to switch off at night, have a million things running around in your head all the time, focus on all the wrong things, then one of the challenges you are facing could be sensory overload. Did you know we are bombarded with sensory information almost all day, every day, think about it; Loud sounds such as trucks, mobile phones ringing, or the person who talks way to loud on theirs, radio, wifi and EMF waves, flashing graphics, such as games, movies and billboards, fluorescent lighting, monitors and screens, and above all a stressful, fast paced working environment. This can cause our brain to burn through nutrients that we need for other activities, or reduce the production of hormones such as melatonin or serotonin.
Dr. Golberger(2) who wrote the handbook of stress suggests that over stimulation of our senses can have a negative effect on our overall mental wellbeing. His suggestions was that as prolonged stimulation increases, there is an inverse decrease in mental acuity.
Tip: try to reduce your sensory stimulus in life, especially before bed. Take time to listen to softer sounds such as waves or birds, reduce lighting levels an hour before bed and turn off electronic devices.
Focus on your inputs
Did you know the gateway to our brain is not through the eyes, the nose or the ears, its actually through the mouth. Everything that enters our body (generally speaking) goes in through the mouth, and down into our gut. Some people call the gut the second brain because of the link between the two. When we fuel our brain in the right way, with the right amino acids and antioxidants amazing things can happen. Greenfield(3) suggests that with neurotransmitters being produced in the gut lining there is a clear link between how you feed the bacteria that help to make those neuro transmitters and your mental health.
By giving your body the right nutrients to support your mental health, you’re giving your brain the best chance to support you. It’s basically you, but better!
Tip: try ensuring that you are feeding your gut with nutrients that feed the brain, items high in choline, tryptophan, nicotinamide. Alternatively, choose a well rounded nootropic formula that is specifically designed to support mental health. Always choose the best you can afford, that is well researched and comprehensive.
- Taylor CB, Sallis JF, Needle R. The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health. Public Health Rep. 1985;100(2):195-202.
- Goldberger, L. (1993). Sensory deprivation and overload. In: L. Goldberger & S. Breznitz (Eds). Handbook of Stress. Theoretical and Clinical Aspects (pp. 333– 341). New York: Free Press.
- Greenfield B. (2020). Boundless. Victory Belt