Holistic Mental Health and Wellness Interventions
The following highlights holistic interventions for mental health and well-being. We explore nutrition, sleep hygiene, exercise, and mind-body practices, emphasizing their capacity to reduce stress, boost mood, and enhance overall wellness. We underscore the significance of balanced nutrition, restful sleep, and consistent exercise. Furthermore, we examine the roles of health coaching and mind-body techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises, in achieving harmony between the mind and body.
Nutrition and Weight Management
Nutrition is always a key component in mental health treatment. Individuals grappling with developmental issues like ADHD and mood disorders like depression have exhibited nutritional deficiencies. Inflammation is a significant contributor to chronic medical and mental health issues. The foods that contribute to inflammation in the body are those high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are highly processed, and contain tons of dyes and preservatives, like candy, potato chips, and soda. In addition, trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, excessive alcohol, and processed meats, like bacon, smoked meats, and sausage, have also been linked to inflammation. Diet plans that help reduce inflammation include the Mediterranean diet, Blue Zone Diet, intermittent fasting, vegan/ vegetarian, and anti-inflammatory diets. Outside of a specific diet plan, I counsel parents and youth to focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, legumes, and good-quality beef.
IV Hydration/Nutritional Support
Sleep is crucial for children and adolescents, given it is a time for growth, restoration, and repair. A lack of sleep or poor sleep habits in children and adolescents can lead to learning, mood, and behavioral issues. In addition, certain mental health conditions can worsen sleep issues. Depression, for example, can lead to problems around falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up too early. Typical care options include a structured sleep hygiene routine such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, a warm bath before bed, warm tea or milk, elimination of electronics at least one to two hours before bed, and sleep relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation. Other options to combat sleep issues are closing off light from the room with heavy shades and eliminating all illuminated devices, including clocks. I also recommend setting the room temperature between sixty-five to sixty-eight degrees at night.
Utilizing exercise as a primary intervention is integral in my approach to addressing various mental health concerns. From stress, burnout, ADHD, anxiety, depression, you name it, exercise can help. Exercise helps regulate stress levels, reduce anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and release natural feel-good endorphins. On top of those great benefits, exercise releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps to improve our brain functioning and overall ability to think. Low levels of BDNF are associated with depression, anxiety, and problems with thinking and memory.
Meditation is a great entry point of care for children and teens. It reduces stress, helps with sleep, and builds resilience to future depression and anxiety. Try various kinds of meditation to see what your child or teen likes. I recommend starting with mindfulness and guided meditation. Other mind-body techniques I recommend in my treatment plans include breathing exercises, yoga, t’ai chi, qigong, biofeedback, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Mind-body practices harmonize the mind and body, fostering a sense of healing and well-being. Typical mind-body techniques encompass elements like breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and movement as integral components of the practice. These methods prove highly effective in alleviating stress, enhancing mood, and mitigating anxiety and pain. Some of the significant biological changes that occur during the regular practice of these techniques are balancing the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system and the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system, thereby reducing stress and anxiety. Furthermore, employing these techniques can induce alterations in our brain networks, leading to a heightened sense of calmness, improved focus, and enhanced clarity and self-awareness.
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