- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness each year
- 1 in 20 U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness each year
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder each year
- 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24
Now that we know the numbers, what can we do to help counter the negativity that often leads to anxiety and depression? Talking to your doctor is always your first step, but there are other lifestyle changes that can help you decrease some of the negativity you are dealing with.
Meditation.2 Don't make it complicated. Meditation is simply about turning inward to notice your thoughts without judgment. Meditating even just five minutes a day helps relieve anxiety, quiet your inner critic, and improve focus.
Research shows that mindfulness practice increases gray matter density, which improves your ability to deal with stressful situations. Meditation also shrinks the amygdala, the part of your brain controlling fear and anxiety. When it's smaller, you're happier. Studies also show that after only four days of mindful meditation, cortisol levels decreased significantly.3
Pranayama Exercises.4 Pranayama is yoga breathing exercises that can quickly increase energy, and release stress. It's often done in a specific pattern of taking in a breath, holding it then exhaling. When done correctly, it can reduce anxiety, improve focus, increase energy, and boost creativity.
Get out in nature.5 Studies show that spending time in nature (not just anywhere outside) can lower levels of negative thoughts than others. Spending at least two hours total in nature each week helps individuals experience a more positive mood and better cognitive function, thereby improving memory and focus. Some also notice an improvement in creativity.
- Get active.6 You don't have to plan a structured exercise or activity to reap the benefits of movement. Anything that moves your muscles work. Just a quick walk can be beneficial. Regular activity can help ease depression and anxiety symptoms by releasing endorphins, natural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. It also helps take your mind off works so that you can start breaking away from negative thought cycles.
These tips won't completely eliminate negativity from your life, but they can help you better cope with such feelings. As always, talk to your doctor about any anxiety or depression systems you may be experiencing. Incorporating these habits into your health plan can make a world of difference.
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1National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed 3/6/23/ https://www.nami.org/mhstats
2Berbari, Georgina. "Why Meditation Can Actually Make You A Happier Person, According to Science." Elite Daily. 2/26/18. Accessed 3/6/23 https://www.elitedaily.com/p/why-meditation-makes-you-happy-according-to-science-8333117
3Holzel, Britta K. Carmody, James. Vangel, Mark. Congleton, Christina. Yerramsetti, Sita M., Gard, Tim. Lazar, Sara W. "Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density." ScienceDirect. 1/30/11. Accessed 3/6/23. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092549271000288X?via%3Dihub
4Shah, Sejal. "The Beginner's Guide to Pranayama: Yoga Breathing Exercises. The Art of Living. Accessed 3/6/23https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/breathwork/pranayama/pranayama
5Gilbert, Emily. "Why being outside is good for your mental health." Lumino Health. 3/29/22. Accessed 3/6/23. https://luminohealth.sunlife.ca/s/article/Why-being-outside-is-good-for-your-mental-health?language=en_US
6Mayo Clinic Staff. "Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms." Mayo Clinic. 9/27/17. Accessed 3/6/23. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495#:~:text=Regular%20exercise%20may%20help%20ease,your%20sense%20of%20well%2Dbeing