When it comes to mental health, we want to ask the experts! This blog post is brought to you by:
Dr. Brittany Peters, LCSW, MCAP
Dr. Brittany Peters is a licensed clinical social worker, carrying a certification in addictions. She is the owner of a private practice, Center for Wellness & Clinical Development. Brittany works as a consultant in addition to teaching for the University of South Florida and Walden University. She volunteers her time through the Urban League Young Professionals, The Well for Life, League of Women Voters, and the Tampa Bay Association of Social workers.
4 Ways Diet and Exercise Improves Mental Health
During this time of social distancing, many of us find ourselves with more idle time than usual. As a clinical social worker, I have always encouraged the use of coping skills. Coping skills are the activities an individual engages in to help maintain emotional balance. These skills can range from journaling to hiking. Personally, I have been on a journey to improve my use of two coping skills—specifically, exercising and eating healthier.
Research has shown that exercise has positive effects on an individual’s ability to manage their mood. This method can support individuals who are living with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. A growing body of research suggests eating a diet of healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables can serve as a protective factor against developing a mental health disorder.
Here are some of the top benefits that come from managing your mental health by exercising and eating a balanced diet while social distancing:
Exercise has been shown to support the brain positively through causing a release of the body’s natural feel-good hormone, endorphins. Additionally, engaging in exercise and physical activity can relieve stress and ease muscle tension.
Improve Cognitive Functioning
Mental health symptoms may include problems sleeping, trouble concentrating, difficulty controlling emotions, and issues with troublesome thought patterns. While exercise helps improve cognitive flexibility, healthy eating habits can reduce symptoms associated with a mental health disorder. Some researchers even suggest following a Mediterranean diet: one high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other plant-based foods.
individuals living with a mental health disorder may also struggle with issues related to self-esteem. When combined with therapy, exercise can help individuals challenge and change negative self-perception. Positive self-perception reduces depression and can improve your overall mood.
Consuming drinks high in sugar and caffeine has been linked to several negative mental health outcomes, such as an increase in engaging in risk-taking activities. Additionally, high sugar intake places individuals at risk for negative physical health outcomes such as diabetes and obesity, which can lead to depressive symptoms. Therefore, replacing sugary or caffeinated drinks with water reduces your risk of negative physical health and mental health outcomes.
If you are struggling with homeschooling and working from home, you can still reap the benefits of exercise. Studies have shown even a moderate level of exercise can provide the same beneficial results.
For more educational information on mental health or to contact Dr. Peters, please reach her through her business: