You want to be preventive and proactive, but you may need some guidance on getting started. The tips below are some of the best ways to improve your mental health and overall well-being.
- Exercise – The physical health benefits of exercise are too many to name. The mental health benefits are notable, while being overshadowed at times. Beginning a simple walking program provides similar value as antidepressant medications and improves current mood and anxiety symptoms. If symptoms are low, exercise will create a buffer protecting you from future stressors. Experiment with weight training, stretches and household chores to expand your definition of exercise. With this, be sure to consult your doctor to gain a clear understanding of the behaviors that are encouraged and those that should be limited.
- Diet – To have your mental and physical health performing at optimal levels you need to consume nutritious foods. There is no way around it: what you eat influences how you feel. Take a serious look at your diet and determine changes worth making. Take foods and drinks into consideration as well as times of day that you eat. Food is energy. Use it throughout the day. The good news is that diets appropriate for AFib are the same diets that are best for overall well-being. Eating more fish, less salt and less cholesterol will lead you to feel happier and more energetic.
- Mental stimulation – People need various types of stimulation to maintain their mental health. Think about the huge boost it was learning to ride a bike or tie your shows for the first time. Think about the sense of accomplishment when you repaired that leaky sink. Trying new experiences with new people is a great way to receive mental stimulation. Learning new things and attempting word and number puzzles builds new pathways in your brain. Schedule time daily to challenge your mind and break out of old routines and ruts.
- Sleep – Sleep is so simple and so easily taken for granted. Get in a routine and work to extend sleep until you are getting 8-9 hours of restful sleep each night. Shift eating and exercise times to find the desired effect. If it is challenging for you to choose sleep over other activities, take a long look at your energy levels in the morning and throughout the day. Trading a TV show for 30 minutes of sleep might be the best deal you will make. After all, that’s what DVRs are for.
- Socialization – People, especially as they get older, have fewer social relationships. This is troubling since love and feelings of belongingness are crucial for happiness at any stage of life. If your supports have diminished, seek out new ones. Try a new club or community group. Volunteer at the local animal shelter or take a class. The type of socialization you engage is not as important as the socialization itself since this will improve socialization and mental stimulation at once.
- Relax – Stress is sneaky. Just when you think you have everything well managed, stress can present. Because of this, finding and perfecting stress management techniques is an ongoing process. Work to find a balance between distraction, avoidance and resolution of stresses. Relaxation techniques exist in numerous shapes and sizes. Find ones that work for you. Your heart will thank you.
It is true that AFib might not adversely influence your mental health to the degree of other chronic medical conditions, but it still deserves attention. Be sure to work towards acceptance of your diagnosis to avoid future problems. Along the way, work to improve your overall well-being. Your mental health and physical health will only improve. You have no idea how good you can feel.