It Starts with Sleep

Mental health starts simply.  The first easy 3 things to consider are:

  1. Quality of Rest/Sleep
  2. Access to Quality Food
  3. Serotonin-Friendly Postures

The first two are obvious.  If a mentally ill person cannot get enough rest, they will function poorly.  In fact, if a mentally healthy person cannot get consistent rest, they TOO will function poorly.  Life’s stresses and challenges are hard enough as it is, but when you are sleepy – because the neighbor was blasting music all night, or your roommate is a vampire, or you live in a submarine-like condition with four people to a room in bunk beds – these life pressures become debilitating and create more stress and more discomfort.  

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Access to quality food is also a proven, necessary component of a life on the mend.  A steady diet of fresh fruit, vegetables and leans fats have been proven to help improve outcomes for the mentally ill and the mentally healthy.  A diet of energy drinks and Hot Cheetos, with a pizza and a Lean Cuisine thrown in here and there, is not a recipe for happiness or health. 

Serotonin-Friendly Postures

Which brings us to Serotonin-Friendly Postures.  Huh?  For a more detailed explanation of serotonin-friendly postures, check out Ted Talks or read some Jordan E. Peterson books.  For our purposes, we will only glean this rich and satisfying topic.  When you stand up straight with your shoulders back and head up, you will feel better.  Serotonin is a neural chemical that makes life bearable and nice.  It helps you deal with stress and anxiety.  It settles your nerves and makes you feel a “oneness” with the world.  When you carry your posture properly, whether you feel good or not, you will feel better very quickly.  Being upright and alert signals to your body to release this chemical.  Certain foods like milk, turkey and green peas help increase this effect by adding 5HTP into your system.  5HTP is a precursor to serotonin (happy) and melatonin (sleepy).

Bringing It All Together

Proper sleep and healthy posture combined with proper diet and we have a proven combination for improvement and success.  Slumped shoulders, skulking body language and lowered heads all communicate to the outside world that you are a victim or ill-intentioned.  And victims generally continue to be victimized by savvy predators and ill-intended victimizers.  It is like waving a flag announcing you are in a weakened state.  Even if you ARE a victim and have been victimized, carrying yourself in a victimized manner isn’t going to make anything any better.  In fact, it will get worse.  So let’s try to take a tip from Mr. Peterson and his lobsters (google it) and start preparing for change and success by eating better, sleeping better and moving our bodies through space in a way that signals calm strength and courage, even in the face of uncertainty and suffering.  

I know this sounds superficial and overly simple.  Yes, it is.  But we need to start the journey of healing somewhere, and if you do not look the part or feel the part, it will likely never happen.  The more complex and challenging steps will never be realized because you will be too tired, stressed out, malnourished and advertising to be mistreated by abusive opportunists.   

Take away:  Sleep tight.  Sit up straight.  Have breakfast and meet us on the battlefield.  There is a war brewing and only you can make the difference.