Health Check: 5 Tips to Improve Your Mental and Physical Wellbeingby
Miss604 is the proud Blog Sponsor of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation in 2020. The following has been contributed by a member of their team, Dr. Silke Cresswell.
5 Tips to Improve Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing
Exercise, gardening, conversation, improv classes, creating art, doing yoga, and performing music. On the surface, each of these activities seem independent from one another, but all of them play an integral role in the overall health and wellbeing of our brains.
At the BC Brain Wellness Program — a donor-funded program made possible by my partnership with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation — my colleagues and I are combining clinical care with interventions that support healthier lifestyles. Expertise is drawn from many fields including the School of Music, Physiotherapy, Kinesiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, Neurosciences, Nutrition as well as several community partners.
But you don’t need to be a patient to benefit from our research.
Take a look below at the five tips anyone can do to proactively improve their mental and physical wellbeing today.
1. Get Moving
Exercise does wonders. It leads to new brain cells with better connectivity, improved mood, healthier weight management, better sleep, and a reduction in inflammation. You don’t need to take up cross-fit or train for a marathon to see the benefits — daily walks or yoga sessions are a perfect way to get started.
2. Eat For Your Brain
Wholesome nutrition such as following the principles of the Mediterranean diet is another key component for wellbeing and can prevent or delay cognitive decline and possibly also Parkinson’s disease.
This means more greens and other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish and poultry and less butter, cheese, pastries, sweets, red meat and fried or fast foods.
3. Connect with Your Community
Connections with your friends, family and neighbours are key aspects to your mental health. The Harvard Study of Adult Development concluded that loneliness can kill as easily as smoking or alcoholism.
Social integration and community are crucial for happiness and longevity. So foster relationships with friends and family and reach out if you need help. Talking with a friend when you’re feeling down can have a profound impact. Likewise, helping others also has health benefits for the helper.
4. Keep Learning
An active brain is a healthy brain. Learning or practicing new skills helps keep your mind sharp and can be a lot of fun. Whether it’s working on a craft project, becoming a puzzle master, or reading a new book, stretching your mental muscle every day is not only satisfying, it’s good for you!
5. Take a Mindful Moment
Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgement. By immersing yourself in the sights, sounds and feelings of a particular moment you can improve your ability to focus, reduce stress and better manage anxiety and other mental health challenges.
The Brain Wellness Program has moved online in light of COVID-19, which has allowed us to welcome an even wider variety of participants to improve their mental and physical well-being.
Join our Summer Brain Wellness Challenge today. Pledge to devote yourself to daily activities proven to support brain health while raising important funds for the program with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.
Dr. Silke Cresswell is the co-founder and Director of the BC Brain Wellness Program, which provides free mental health workshops to support people living with chronic brain disorders, their care partners, and healthy agers.
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Mindfulness has been a huge saviour for me in 2020. I’ve been taking a great drop-in virtual mindfulness class on Monday mornings to kick start the week. The free MindShift app has also helped. Within that app is the Chill Zone, with quick calming exercises you can do in a matter of a few minutes. Don’t forget that Breathe app on the Apple Watch too!