Listen here to the Podcast: On The Power Of Being Proactive: Dennis Dodson – 11 Steps That May Lead To Better Mental Health.
11 Steps which may lead to better mental and physical health*
Drink 8 or 10 glasses of water every day. You may not like water. I never did. When I first started drinking it I had to make myself. I told myself it was absolutely imperative that I stay hydrated because my brain as well as the rest of my body wanted, needed and would benefit from me drinking lots of water daily. I learned it was good to start my mornings with a tall glass of water. I suggest if you’re a very small person, you may be well served with 8 or 10 small glasses of water daily. If you’re a big person, use a big glass. I just drink the tap water. This first step is crucial to get the most out of several of the other steps.
This step is probably the hardest but can be the most rewarding step. This step will put money in your pocket and possibly extend your life by many years. This step can be skipped by those who don’t smoke, drink alcohol excessively or use mind altering drugs. Step 2 is if you smoke, STOP. If you use alcohol excessively, STOP. And if you use mind altering drugs, STOP.
Detox. I’m not referring to detox in reference to drugs or alcohol but detoxing your whole body of as many of the toxins and trash as possible that have accumulated from bad food choices and the preservatives and such which accumulate in your body over time. The body has 5 organ systems which collect these toxins. The liver, lungs, kidneys, skin and your intestines. A simple and fairly inexpensive detox kit is available at any health food store or online with a few clicks of the mouse. Detox is crucial because you’re getting ready in the next step to put good, wholesome and nutritious things into your body and you need to move the bad out so the cells can get full benefit from this nutrition.
Eat good, whole, natural and healthy foods. No soft drinks. As little processed foods as possible. Stay away from fast foods. Eat as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible. Make smoothies with a variety of berries and things like flax seeds and walnuts. Avoid high fructose corn syrup. Avoid refined sugar as much as possible. Eat cooked vegetables and meats but avoid condiments like bar-b-que sauce and ketchup. Eggs and beans are good sources of protein. Stay off the cookie and cracker isle when you go to the grocery store and avoid the canned food as much as possible because it’s usually loaded with sodium and has been processed to the point of very little nutrition left in the can. You end up with a lot of empty calories. And stay off the chip and snack isle too. Use olive oil as much as you can when you fry. Lean pork and lean beef are good but watch out for a lot of chicken if it doesn’t say “raised free of hormones”.
Take vitamins and supplements. Don’t think you’re going to get enough vitamins and minerals from your food. Start with a good multiple vitamin. Not a name brand off the shelf at WalMart or the grocery store. Get a GOOD multiple vitamin from a health food store or online from someone like Swanson Vitamins that comes in a capsule for better absorption. Add other vitamins and supplements to your daily regimen like fish oil, flax seed oil, glucosamine, vitamin D-3, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, coral calcium with magnesium, potassium and curcumin. Read about these vitamins and supplements and you’ll see what you’ve been missing.
Get regular and proper sleep. If you don’t sleep sound for 6 to 9 hours each night without taking a sleeping pill or self medicating yourself with drugs or alcohol to get some sleep, chances are your circadian rhythm, known as your body clock, needs reset. Daily and regular exposure to bright sunlight should help but the easiest and most convenient method is to purchase a full spectrum light therapy bulb and let the light shine on your face for an hour or so every day before Noon. You can get some melatonin or camomile tea to help you get sleepy at bedtime and jump start the process. With your body clock properly regulated and good nutrition minus sweets and heavy foods late in the evening, your brain should produce its own melatonin and make you sleepy naturally. All sorts of sleeping tips are available online or at the library. Tips like having the room where you sleep totally dark and don’t ever leave the TV or radio on when you’re trying to fall asleep are just a couple to be found.
Reduce or eliminate negative thought patterns. There is an excellent resource available absolutely free online called ANTS. Automatic Negative Thoughts. Dr. Amens has come up with this helpful and often life changing self help program. There’s several other variations. ANTS is just the one I used. Don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Live in the moment as much as possible and be aware of what you’re thinking about. By switching from negative thoughts to neutral or positive thoughts you’ll feel better quickly. You can eliminate bad thought patterns and replace them with helpful, hopeful and happy or positive thoughts. Absolutely free.
Be good to yourself. Don’t be critical of yourself or put demands on yourself that are unrealistic or nearly impossible to accomplish. Get the drama and poison people out of your life. That’s a hard one but will give you such a degree of peace and potential tranquility that it’s worth the effort. Reward yourself with positive affirmations many times every day. Tell yourself you’re a good person, worthy of the best this earth has to offer. Everyone makes mistakes so don’t beat yourself up over the ones you’ve made. Take a long hot bubble bath, make a cup of green tea and read that book you’ve been wanting to read. Go to a movie with a friend who makes you feel comfortable. Make lists of simple everyday tasks and check or cross them off every time you finish one.
Be aware and seek support. Awareness is central to a healthy and happy life. If you have had a traumatic event or a terrible loss in your life that colors your world every day, get help with that issue. Be aware of your feelings and monitor your thoughts constantly until it becomes a way of life for you. There’s support groups for almost any issue that has hurt you or haunts you. Finding others who have been through similar traumas or are dealing with similar issues such as grief or care giving will let you know you’re not alone. It will show you that others have problems from life events just like you have. It will give you a chance to help others also which is a win win for everybody.
Deal with the stress of life as it occurs. Stress is a killer. Stress weakens your immune system. Stress takes the joy out of living and needs to be addressed constantly. There’s good stress and bad stress. Too much of a good thing can be as stressful as the bad things we encounter. There’s all sorts of information available free online or at the local library concerning how to deal with stress. Utilize the available information and resources.
Exercise. Don’t worry about lifting weights or doing pushups, just get moving. Walking, household chores or yard work will do the job. You want to get your blood circulating so all that good stuff you’ve put into your body will get utilized.
By utilizing these basic steps and expanding on them through self help and your own research I believe you can greatly improve your mental as well as your physical health. You can develop good habits and make better choices as you take personal responsibility for your health. Live a life of gratitude. Help others as much as you can. It’s never to late to change and your brain will appreciate you taking these steps and reward you with better emotion regulation, better memory, possibly a longer life and clearer and more efficient thought processes.
*Prescription psychotropic drugs are most often habit forming and have terrible side effects and withdrawal symptoms. These steps should be discussed with your doctor if you are taking medications for mental or physical issues.
Written by Dennis Dodson 12/23/12 firstname.lastname@example.org
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