Amid the heavy impact of the cost of living crisis, the global recession following the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine and other conflicts in some parts of the world, and political imbalances , it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain our mental health. As historical events pile up and waves of uncertainty follow one another, the future looks a bit bleak. But there are some things we can do to stay sane and better prepared for crises during these trying times. Let’s discuss a few ways to maintain and protect mental health.
The first and most important way to protect our mental health is to build healthy relationships. When we have healthy relationships, our brain produces hormones that help regulate us. The most important is oxytocin. What does this hormone oxytocin do? The hormone oxytocin has many benefits. First of all, it gives a sense of security. Global endangerment is spreading due to economic and political inconsistencies and growing racism. People are increasingly worried about the future. When we produce the hormone oxytocin, our brain feels safe. The healthier our relationships are, the more our brain produces a sense of security. When we have a sense of security, we become more productive and view possible negative life events in a pragmatic way. People with a lot of oxytocin have a good relationship with sleep. Healthy sleep habits allow our brain to eliminate bad emotions. Oxytocin facilitates an easy transition to sleep as it makes the person feel safe.
When we experience many negative emotions, the amygdala, which we call “the emotional brain”, takes over and turns off the part that produces solutions. When this happens, we become unable to take action to get out of the current situation. Oxytocin helps reduce the effect of the traumas we experience. For example, it makes it easier for us to process negative emotions such as loneliness, exclusion, and helplessness. If a person has a few people with whom he has a deep connection, the rate of being affected by the bad events that happened to him decreases.
Another effect of oxytocin is that it strengthens us physically. Because it also strengthens our immune system, physical injuries heal more easily. Studies have shown that single people get sick faster, both physically and mentally.
In order to build healthy relationships, we need to improve our communication skills. Communicating is not just talking. It has subtleties. People with a healthy mental state do not interrupt, can focus on topics, do not hurt themselves, and do not invade or attack the other party during communication. If we want to strengthen our mental structure, we must strengthen our communication skills.
Another way to protect our mental health is to be solution-focused. We must analyze the events that happen to us, their causes and their effects. However, after analysis, it is good for us to find solutions and act. Too much analysis prevents us from being in touch with the emotional side of the event and prevents us from taking responsibility. After producing a solution, if we take initial steps, we will grow spiritually. Our ability to take responsibility improves and we feel freer.
Sometimes we give and sometimes we take in relationships. People who have the ability to receive and give are mentally healthy. Someone who only knows what to take and who couldn’t grow up has retained the mentality of a child. Because the child needs an adult because of his position in life, he takes whatever comes from them. Parents give, children take. This is the order of life. Having a two-adult relationship boosts our mental health.
In addition, children who have not had a voice in childhood, oppressed by their parents and whose limits have not been respected turn into adults unable to say no. These adults don’t know the difference between rejecting an idea and rejecting a person. They perceive the word no as the same thing as leave.
For a healthy mental structure, one must develop the ability to say no to people. It’s reciprocal. Likewise, we must give people the right to say no. People who cannot protect their boundaries and therefore ignore someone else’s boundaries are the ones who repeat the cycles they experienced as children in adulthood. It will be useful to find and differentiate the connection.
One of our main concerns is being abandoned or being alone. Since the beginning of humanity, we owe our survival to acting as a group. We needed it to survive in the wild. Our primitive brain perceives death as abandonment. Warning bells ring for us when we are out of the community. Therefore, when our fear of abandonment is triggered, our emotional brain, the amygdala, shuts down our rational brain and we cannot make healthy decisions. But we no longer need to live in groups to stay alive. Now we can also meet our needs individually. If we are alone, we do not die. This information needs to be updated.
In addition to this, we know that the child needs the care of its parents to survive. In this period, if the parents’ care is conditional care, if the child receives care when he is a “good” child, and if the care is withdrawn when he behaves beyond the expectations of the parents , he becomes an adult whose feeling of abandonment is triggered very quickly. In adulthood, he may maintain toxic relationships to avoid abandonment. We have to have the ability to leave people from time to time, to give people the right to leave us as well. This is what will develop us spiritually.
Everything goes so fast at this time. So we have a lot of emotional exchanges, good or bad, every minute. Looking at the horizon helps our brain process all the emotions we have. Our brain’s ability to work on emotions increases in two situations. One is while he’s doing nothing (literally no cell phone, no reading book, nothing), the other is asleep. Practicing looking at the horizon for half an hour every day will help you regulate negative emotions and increase positive emotions and problem-solving skills. It’s another way to keep our sanity on track.
exercise for the brain
Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of exercise for our mental health. Exercise has many benefits, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. In our brain, exercise stimulates chemicals that improve our mood and the parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Several studies have been conducted on mice and humans that indicate that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells and improves overall brain performance. Not only that, but it also prevents cognitive decline and memory loss by strengthening the hippocampus which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Exercise also has benefits for depression and anxiety. How? The endorphin hormone is called the feel-good hormone. It increases a lot when we do physical activity. Even if we only do moderate exercise throughout the week, we produce enough to reduce depression and anxiety and give us feelings of happiness and euphoria.
If you still think it’s too much to take, it’s best to see a mental health professional.
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