When it comes to managing mental health, many people thank turn to prescription medication without considering the potential benefits of natural remedies. While pharmaceutical medicines can undoubtedly help manage symptoms, it's essential to recognize that there are alternative solutions out there that are far less toxic. In this article, we unveil natural remedies for mental health.
Natural remedies have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including anxiety, depression and stress. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, which can have unpleasant side effects, natural remedies generally have fewer and less sever adverse reactions.
If you are interested in improving your mental health and wellbeing by opting for a more all-natural approach why not try one or all of these suggestions?
Natural Remedies for Mental Health
Get a pet
It's well known that owning a pet improves mental health; reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Pets provide love and companionship – both of which are natural anti-depressants. If you don't want a pet or cannot afford to keep one, you can still get health benefits from petting animals at an animal sanctuary or even watching cute videos online (1).
Spend time in nature
Spending time outside in natural surroundings reduces stress and gets you away from the distractions and anxiety of modern life. Natural locations, such as parks, forests and the seashore, provide a sense of peace and calm that can be very beneficial to mental health (2).
Go off grid
While we are talking about spending time in nature, why not combine that with 24 hours away from technology. Social media has been shown to cause anxiety and depression (3). Using too much technology can lead to feelings of isolation when you spend more time on digital media than with real people.
In addition, social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can cause anxiety as users compare themselves to others online. Leave your phone at home, close your laptop, and switch the television off. Forget about notifications, emails and tweets and do something fun instead.
Take up an outdoor activity
Studies show that when people get together for regular outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling, they experience a decrease in anxiety and depression. It is suggested that the positive effect of nature on mental health may result from increased levels of mindfulness, decreased stress and improved self-esteem (4).
Get some exercise
Exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good and improves our mood. Studies show that people who are physically active experience less anxiety and depression than those who stay sedentary. In fact, physical inactivity is considered to be an independent risk factor for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression (4).
Take up yoga
Yoga is one of the top natural remedies for mental health. It can help to reduce anxiety, depression and stress levels. Yoga also improves cardiac health, which makes it good for your whole body. Calm the mind and feel better with this fantastic form of exercise (5). You do not need to buy expensive equipment, you can learn to do yoga at home.
Opt for natural remedies
The benefits of natural remedies have been known and used for centuries. For instance, lavender, lemon balm and chamomile have been used for centuries as natural remedies to cure insomnia, induce relaxation and reduce anxiety and depression. CBD is widely regarded as an effective treatment for mild anxiety and depression and can be bought as a supplement.
Get a massage
Studies show that people who receive regular massages experience a decrease in depression and anxiety. In fact, patients often use massage therapy as a form of treatment for their mental health conditions. This is because it slows the heart rate, helps you to relax and also releases endorphins.
There are different types of massage and some can ease the discomfort of painful conditions. When pain is reduced we automatically feel less stressed and our mental health improves (7).
If a massage therapist is not available to you, you can learn to give yourself a massage.
The use of aromatherapy oils like lavender, sandalwood or vanilla for massage can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation further (8). Here's our Essential Oils Guide to Health and Non-Toxic Living for more information.
Make time to relax
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. Despite this, it is important to prioritize sleep and relaxation time. Relaxation techniques such as alternate nostril and deep breathing and guided imagery can help to ease stress and anxiety (9).
Taking a relaxing bath can also be an amazing stress-buster. Put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, add the bath bomb and close your eyes or meditate while the warm water soothes your troubles away.
Meditation has long been used as a means of reducing stress and improving mental wellbeing. It involves focusing on the present moment which is known as being mindful. Studies show that meditation can reduce anxiety, depression and even pain (9).
If you are short on time, or have excessive mental chatter, you can still get the benefits of meditation in just 12 minutes.
Get your Z's
Studies show that people who get a good night of sleep (8 hours per night) experience less anxiety and depression than those who do not. Unfortunately, insomnia is very common in the elderly and can lead to serious health problems if untreated. If you have difficulty sleeping, try yoga or create a bedtime ritual before you head to bed to ease anxiety (10).
Catch some rays
Vitamin D, which is naturally created by the body when it is exposed to sunlight, can alleviate symptoms of depression. This means that getting outdoors and exposing your skin to direct sunlight for at least 15 minutes each day can help keep your mental health in good condition (11).
Eating a healthy diet
The best food to eat for optimum health is typically organic, unprocessed, and high in nutrients. It includes fresh fruit, vegetables, line-caught fish and free-range meat, poultry and eggs. Keep salt, sugar and processed foods to an absolute minimum and eat wholegrain carbohydrates such as seeded bread, brown rice and pasta. Studies have shown that people who eat this way are less likely to develop anxiety or depression (12).
You can find an easy and time-saving guide on how to plan a healthy diet here.
Grass-Fed Meat Delivered Right To Your Door
Eat healthy carbs
Your brain needs glucose to function properly, which is why it's important to protect your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index (such as white bread, cakes and biscuits) cause large spikes in blood sugar, whereas low GI foods (such as beans, lentils and whole grains) cause a more gradual rise. Foods that are high on the GI should be eaten sparingly as they have been linked to depression and anxiety (12).
Eat your omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as fish, nuts and flaxseed. They are powerful anti-inflammatories that reduce the symptoms of depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. Increasing your intake of these foods is a simple way to improve mental health naturally (13).
Healthy fats for healthy brains
The brain is more than 60% fat, which means that you need to consume good sources of healthy fats in order to keep your brain healthy. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, olive oil and salmon have a protective effect on the brain and can help to prevent cognitive decline with age (14).
Eat your greens
Leafy green vegetables contain folate, which is essential for DNA production and repair (15). This means that eating your greens helps to keep anxiety and depression at bay (16). In addition, dark green vegetables are high in vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps to improve mood (17).
Improve gut health
The gut-brain connection is becoming increasingly popular among mental health professionals. In fact, up to 90% of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, is produced in the gut. Many mental health conditions are thought to be linked with imbalances in bacteria levels. These ‘friendly’ bacteria have been shown to improve mood (18). They also help to keep the intestines working properly, improve immunity and reduce inflammation (19).
Clear Gut & Immunity for Digestive & Immune Health
Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that are found in fibrous vegetables. Prebiotics feed the ‘friendly’ bacteria (probiotics) in the gut (19). When they have enough to eat they produce the hormones and enzymes we need to feel good. Plus having plenty of prebiotics to eat means they can grow and multiply. The more healthy gut bacteria we have the better we feel.
Relax with music
Sound healing is an easy way to reduce stress and anxiety. Try listening to calming music before bedtime to help you relax and improve your mental health. Music has also been shown to lower blood pressure, so incorporating it into your relaxation routine can also improve cardiac health (20)
Learn to play an instrument
Learning to play an instrument can help to improve brain function. In fact, playing a musical instrument has been shown to increase memory, verbal fluency and problem-solving skills. It boosts confidence, increases self-esteem and is a way to express emotions – whether happy, sad or angry. It is also a great way to meet new people and can bring a sense of satisfaction that improves mental health (21).
Dancing is a fantastic way to reduce stress and improve your mental health. It is also a great way to exercise if going to the gym doesn't float your boat. Dancing has been shown to be just as effective at relieving depression as taking medication. Take a class or just put some music on and (as the saying goes), “dance like no-one is watching” (22)!
Studies have shown that reading fiction improves empathy levels and social emotional intelligence (23). Reading can increase memory, boost brain function (24) and even reduce the risk of dementia (25). Reading is a great way to leave the worries of the day behind as you use your imagination to get lost in a fantasy world for a few hours.
Write a gratitude journal
Studies show that people who write down three things they are grateful for each day experience a significant increase in mental health and wellbeing. In addition, writing about stressful events has been linked to improved immune function and decreased blood pressure. Sometimes just getting things out of your head and onto paper can reduce your worries. Writing in a gratitude journal is another way that journaling can boost your self -esteem, confidence and mood (26).
The Anti-Anxiety Notebook – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reframe and Reset
Natural Remedies for Mental Health FAQ
Q. What are some of the benefits of using natural remedies for mental health?
A. Using natural remedies for mental health can offer several benefits. Firstly, natural remedies have fewer side effects compared to pharmaceutical medications. This makes them a far safer option for many people. The can promote well-being by addressing the root causes of mental health issues, rather than just managing the symptoms.
Natural remedies often focus on nourishing the body and mind through holistic approaches, including nutrition, lifestyle changes, and stress reduction techniques. They also empower people to take an active role in their mental health and encourage a sense of self-care and self-awareness.
Q. How Do I choose the right natural remedy for mental health?
A. Choosing the right natural remedy for mental health depends on several factors. These include your unique constitution and specific condition plus your personal preferences.
It's suggested to consult with a qualified health care practitioner who can access your unique needs and provide personalized recommendations. They will consider your symptoms, medical history, and any potential interactions with other medications or treatments you may be undergoing. Also, consider researching reputable sources, reading scientific literature, and seeking testimonials from trusted people who have successfully used natural remedies for similar mental health concerns.
Q. What are some of the side effects of using natural remedies for mental health?
A. While natural remedies generally have fewer side-effects than pharmaceutical medications, it's important to note that they can still have potential risks and interactions.
Common side effects may include digestive issues, allergic reactions, drowsiness, or changes in blood pressure. Yet, the occurrence and severity of side effects vary depending on the specific remedy and individual response. It's crucial to discuss any natural remedies you plan to use with your healthcare professional.
Q. What are some foods I can eat to improve my mental health?
A. Nutrition plays a crucial role in mental health. Consuming a well-balanced diet can support brain function and mood stability. Some foods that are generally beneficial for mental health include:
- Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
- Whole grains, including oats, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale.
- Berries, particularly blueberries, which are rich in antioxidants.
- Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
- Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans.
- Lean proteins like chicken and turkey
- Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, which support gut health.
It is important to remember that your needs may vary, and consulting with your healthcare provider or dietitian can provide personalized guidance.
Q. What supplements should I take for mental health?
A. While it's best to get essential nutrients from a balanced diet, certain supplements may support mental health. Some commonly recommended supplements for mental health include:
a). Omega-3 fatty acids: Fish oil or algae-based supplements can provide omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with improved mood and cognitive function.
b). Vitamin D: Many people have insufficient vitamin D levels, and low levels have been linked to depression. A vitamin D supplement may be beneficial, especially for people with limited sun exposure.
c). Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including those related to mood regulation. A magnesium supplement or magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds may be helpful. (11 Signs and Symptoms of Low Magnesium)
d). B Vitamins: B vitamins, such as B6, B9 (folate), and B12 play a crucial role in brain function and the production of neurotransmitters. A B-complex supplement or foods rich in these vitamins can be considered.
e). Herbal supplements: Certain herbs like St. John's Wort, lavender, and chamomile have been traditionally used to support mental health and well-being. It's always advised to get professional guidance to determine the right dosage and combination for your specific situation.
Before You Go
If you are experiencing mental health challenges, natural remedies and lifestyle changes may be good ways to start find balance and inner peace.
This post covered a wide range of lifestyle tips for improving your mental well-being. All of the suggested activities are great ways to restore balance in your life by making sure you take care of yourself first. It is important that you prioritize your mental health needs by taking the time to listen you your own intuition instead of relying on outside sources and influences.
Nurture yourself and embrace natural remedies for improved mental health if you need some extra support – because you deserve a lifetime of joy!