Manage Your Mental Health Holistically

by | Holistic Living, Print Articles, Summer 2022

We all experience stress from time to time. However, with the world – and our lives – becoming increasingly stressful, it’s important that we learn how to manage our mental health better and cope with mental health issues.

Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty and staunch advocate for mental health awareness, says: “Stress is a natural and temporary reaction to external triggers and, in small doses, it can be very beneficial in that it motivates us to reach goals and accomplish tasks more efficiently.

“But, whilst stress typically resolves as life events change, a mental health issue is a condition rather than a reaction and it can be very debilitating, interfering with a person’s ability to carry out daily functions.”

“The body’s stress response was not made to be continuously engaged and, when someone is under chronic and prolonged stress, it begins to affect their physical and mental health negatively.”

“in general, so it’s essential to learn how manage stress before it becomes a serious issue, as well as how to maintain optimal mental health.”

Depression and anxiety are typically treated with psychotherapy and medication in western medicine and, although these treatments work very well for many people, they aren’t as effective for everyone, whilst others suffer from adverse side effects from the medication.

Yael believes that, regardless of the efficacy of pharmaceutical treatments, a holistic approach to mental health is key to managing issues and improving our mental and physical wellbeing.

“Our mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum so we need to treat it as part and parcel of the whole, which means that, in order to foster mental and emotional wellbeing, we need to start with the basics.”

Yael also suggests the following practices for reducing stress levels and to cope better with depression. She says that, although you might not feel like it, it’s important that you force yourself, as it WILL make a difference.

  • Exercise – Physical activity releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain which also improve your ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
  • Laugh – Laughter really is the best medicine as it decreases stress hormones and releases endorphins to promote an overall sense of wellbeing.
  • Regulated sleep – Establishing a bedtime routine is essential for mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and drugs – Many people turn to alcohol, coffee or drugs for temporary relief from stress but, in the long term, they’ll only make your problems worse.
  • Use breathing exercises – Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to the brain and triggers the body’s relaxation response, which promotes a state of calmness. Meditation is also a wonderful relaxant and it’s easier than you think with apps like Head Space and Calm available to guide you.
  • Find an accountability and support partner – Whether it be a friend, family member or a colleague, someone who can listen and support you in your moments of despair as well as celebrate your small victories.
  • Volunteer – Helping others in need helps to put your problems in perspective. So, the more you give, the less stressed you’ll feel.

Other therapies and treatments that Yael believes would be of benefit to anyone struggling with their mental health include:

Animal therapy:

Animals can offer an extraordinary amount of emotional support and it’s well-known that owning a pet can reduce stress in multiple ways, including reducing our blood pressure. If you have pets, spend quality time with them, taking them for long walks and indulging in lots of cuddles.

Equine therapy encompasses a range of treatments that involve activities with horses and other equines to promote human physical and mental health and is becoming increasingly popular in treating mental health issues.

Yoga and meditation:
Both can be very effective in helping combat problems with anxiety and depression. The physical practice of each helps to calm the body and relax the mind whilst also encouraging compassionate and kind ethos, which will reinforce a positive attitude towards yourself. And, with Yoga being a form of moving meditation, if you find meditation difficult, this may be better suited to you.