How does someone keep himself sane?

Take care of your mental health

What is Mental Health?

"Mental health is the feeling of being comfortable with who we are and what we do in the world," says Chris O'Sullivan of the Mental Health Foundation in the UK.

While the term "mental health" typically evokes thoughts of mental illness such as depression, anxiety disorder, and addiction, researchers like O'Sullivan said it was just as important to think about mental well-being instead of just staring at the symptoms when one is not feeling so well.

Mental health should be thought of as a spectrum. We always move back and forth on it - probably throughout life.

There is now increasing evidence to suggest that positive mental wellbeing is related to our physical health. And it affects the relationships we build with others. Here are some practical, everyday things to keep in mind for your mental wellbeing.

Note: If you are in the midst of a serious mental illness, these tips may not be helpful to you. Then please seek medical help.

Get out into the garden and move around - that prevents!

Be active

The mind is bound to the body. Exercise and sport release messenger substances in our brain that make us feel good. They improve our sleep and help reduce stress and anxiety. Memory and cognition improve. And this also increases the chances of experiencing positive events in everyday life.

"It's been proven that exercise plays a role in preventing and treating mild and moderate depression and anxiety," says O'Sullivan. "So doing a little sport can help - even if you don't feel like it when you are depressed."

But "being active" doesn't just mean running and exercising: activities that increase the heart rate - such as gardening, thorough cleaning or cycling to work - are also good.

Walking has also been shown to improve people's mood. In a 2015 study, scientists compared the brain activity of healthy people after a 90-minute walk. This took place once in nature and once in the city. Those who took a walk in the countryside showed less activity in the prefrontal cortex - an area of ​​the brain that is particularly active when we are anxious or focused on negative emotions.

Vegetables and fruits are good for the brain and for mental wellbeing

Eat well

More and more studies suggest that a balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods, is important for wellbeing. Diet affects the formation of human brain cells, especially in the part of the brain associated with mood regulation.

Recent research has found a link between bad eating habits and bad mood. A plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet, on the other hand, can help prevent depression. This is in part because of how inflammation affects our gut microbiota. There is growing evidence that they have a notable impact on our mood and behavior.

Eating healthy, O'Sullivan said, also means being aware of how much alcohol you are drinking. "Watching yourself and knowing how you feel about the drug alcohol is a big deal," he says. "Many suicides are associated with alcohol consumption."

If you have a sleep deficit, you can make up for it with short naps

Sleep

It is not known exactly how long it would take a person to die directly from lack of sleep. An American student once managed to stay awake for 11 days and 25 minutes. Even so, many of us know that when we don't get enough sleep, we feel a little closer to death.

Sleep deprivation affects our mood and focus, and even negatively affects our emotional intelligence.

"We generally don't sleep as much as we should," says O'Sullivan. "But we know that sleep is very closely related to mental health." Whether it's five or eight and a half hours depends on the individual. Experts recommend finding out individually what is good for you and then sticking to it.

People who are unable to sleep through the night can also make up for lost sleep by napping. For shift workers and parents of young children, short naps of around 20 minutes are often enough - long enough to fall asleep but not long enough to fall into a deep sleep.

Mindfulness

Many have heard of the concept. O'Sullivan defines mindfulness as "intentional attention to what is happening and how it is happening".

But mindfulness is not yoga or visualization, he says, but rather a state of mind in which we are aware of what is happening to our mind and body while we control our attention and emotions. This can be especially helpful in getting us out of a state of mind where our negative thoughts are going in circles.

"It is not always best to learn mindfulness when you are depressed or in a time of acute anxiety. But learning mindfulness as a tool to stay healthy and find a way out of the [thought cycle] can be really helpful to prevent relapse, "says O'Sullivan.

It is also about recognizing feelings as fleeting and fluctuating. "We all have ups and downs, periods of good mental health and those where it is challenging," added O'Sullivan. "And that's something we can all work on."

Community

Most people long to connect with others. There is evidence that group membership and social connectedness are just as important to our health as diet, exercise and sleep. But despite countless modern methods of communication, O'Sullivan says: "Being lonely is a problem of our time."

"Loneliness is just as bad for our health as smoking," he says, referring to research comparing the risk of death as a result of poor social relationships with smoking.

Social contacts and the ability to talk to people about your problems are important, he says: "Not just for people with mental illness, but for everyone. People are increasingly overly connected on digital devices, but not in real life."

What if all these tips overwhelm you? Then start with the little things, says O'Sullivan: "Find out what you want to work on - a few things that are really good for you - and prioritize them." Most importantly, he adds, it's about "finding out what suits you and trying to do that."

Deutsche Welle reports cautiously on the subject of suicide, as there are indications that some forms of reporting can lead to copycat reactions. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are in emotional distress, do not hesitate to seek help. You can find help in your country at the Befrienders website.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Inseparable

    Gorilla mama Gana at the Münster zoo simply couldn't accept the death of her baby Claudio: for days she carried the lifeless body with her and defended it against the zoo keepers. Not unusual for great ape mothers: some do not part for weeks from the - now mummified - corpse of the deceased offspring.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Burial at sea

    Orcas, dolphins and other marine mammals also carry their deceased cubs with them for a while - not an easy task in the water. Researchers observed mothers trying to balance their bodies on their snouts. When the dead bodies sank, the mothers dived after them. Even when adult dolphins die, the companions guard the dead body for days.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Wake

    Elephants are known for their good memories - no wonder that they mourn their dead particularly intensely and for a long time. If an elephant dies, the other elephants in the group keep vigil over the corpse. Even elephants from neighboring groups come by and visit the deceased conspecific one last time.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Grooming as a consolation

    Baboons show strong symptoms of stress when a companion they are familiar with dies. Your blood stress hormones rise, researchers have shown. In order to deal with a loss, they seek closeness to other baboons and dedicate themselves particularly intensively to grooming.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Call for goodbye

    When corvids discover a dead conspecific, they summon other conspecifics. Together they then gather around the carcass. They also stop eating for a while. Above all, bird species that spend their entire life with a partner - geese and many songbirds, for example - mourn a lot. This can go so far that they no longer eat anything and die themselves.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    And what about fish?

    Fish often behave unusually calm when a conspecific dies in the same aquarium. But that's probably due to the stress hormones that the dying fish releases into the water, researchers say. Little research has been done to date on whether fish can actually mourn. But it is at least obvious for fish living in pairs - for example for the French angelfish.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Pussy and mouse

    One can also mourn a companion who belongs to a different species of animal. This was shown by the cat Muschi and the collar bear Mäuschen in the Berlin zoo. The two had become friends. When the she-bear died, the cat refused to leave the bear enclosure and did not stop mewing.

  • Mourning rituals in the animal kingdom

    Guard at the grave

    A person who loses his beloved dog is terribly sad. The same goes for a dog who loses his beloved master. The German shepherd Capitan guarded the grave of his master in the cemetery of Villa Carlos Paz in Argentina for many years.

    Author: Brigitte Osterath