It’s Health Week on The Morning Thing. How is your mental health? 9/13/16


Boost your brainpower on a daily basis by adding simple steps to your routine.Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

On Tuesday’s show, we focused on mental health. We shared 10 tips on how to stay mentally healthy from

Boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy by following a few simple steps.

  1. Connect with others. Develop and maintain strong relationships with people around you who will support and enrich your life. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards.
  2. Take time to enjoy. Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. Do a crossword; take a walk in your local park; read a book; sew a quilt; draw pictures with your kids; play with your pets – whatever takes your fancy.
  3. Participate and share interests. Join a club or group of people who share your interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Join a sports club; a band; an evening walking group; a dance class; a theatre or choir group; a book or car club.
  4. Contribute to your community. Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Help out a neighbour, work in a community garden or do something nice for a friend. There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. An effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too.
  5. Take care of yourself. Be active and eat well – these help maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise – gardening, vacuuming, and dancing all count. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out.
  6. Challenge yourself. Learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal. You could take on something different at work; commit to a fitness goal or learn to cook a new recipe. Learning improves your mental fitness, while striving to meet your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement.
  7. Deal with stress. Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. You may be able to avoid some of the triggers and learn to prepare for or manage others. Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. A balanced lifestyle can help you manage stress better. If you have trouble winding down, you may find that relaxation breathing, yoga or meditation can help.
  8. Rest and refresh. Get plenty of sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep. Sleep restores both your mind and body. However, feelings of fatigue can still set in if you feel constantly rushed and overwhelmed when you are awake. Allow yourself some unfocussed time each day to refresh; for example, let your mind wander, daydream or simply watch the clouds go by for a while. It’s OK to add do nothing’ to your to-do list!
  9. Notice the here and now. Take a moment to notice each of your senses each day. Simply ‘be’ in the moment – feel the sun and wind on your face and notice the air you are breathing. It’s easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the present. Practicing mindfulness, by focusing your attention on being in the moment, is a good way to do this. Making a conscious effort to be aware of your inner and outer world is important for your mental health.
  10. Ask for help. This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor (GP) about where to find a counselor or community mental health service. The perfect, worry-free life does not exist. Everyone’s life journey has bumpy bits and the people around you can help. If you don’t get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.

Click HERE to read more.

We also shared several brain exercises that can keep your mind sharp. says try these brain boosters:


This probably goes without saying, but making sure you’re getting enough sleep is crucial to keeping your mind in top shape. Though the relationship between memory, sleep, and learning isn’t fully researched, most scientists agree that a full night’s rest is one of the best things to do before learning or memorizing things. During the memory process, the brain goes through several functions: acquisition, or when the brain obtains new information; consolidation, or the stabilizing of a memory, and recall, which involves accessing the information after storing it. Research has shown that consolidation often takes place during sleep, when our brains make neural connections that form memories.

Not getting enough sleep is going to leave you sluggish and forgetful, and it will make all these other brainpower habits seem really difficult or impossible. According to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, lack of proper sleep “affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events.” So be sure to get those seven to nine hours of sleep every night.


Taking the time to disconnect from your digital distractions can help focus your mind, though it may take a while at first. Remember what it felt like to sit and read for three hours without distraction, and feel that deep and satisfying feeling of being entirely absorbed by a book? It’s important to practice this scenario on a daily basis in order to preserve your concentration abilities. One good way to do that is to sit down and journal daily. Not only will it help you focus, but writing has been shown to help clear the mind, almost in a self-therapy sort of way.

In addition, hand-writing itself has been shown to help sharpen our minds. Since hand-writing involves making strokes to create letters, rather than just touching an identical key, it activates certain regions of our brains that are involved in memory and language.


If you got your full night’s rest, that’s great; but every so often a cat nap is in order. Taking these “power” naps can help us feel rejuvenated in a short period of time, and boost our energy just enough to carry us through the rest of the evening. One study showed that young people who napped for 90 minutes actually showed improvements in memory, and other research has shown that extremely short naps — ones that last only a few minutes — can also have a positive effect on concentration and learning.

But be careful about the timing of your nap. “The longer you nap, the more likely you are to wake up from deep sleep, leading you to feel confused and groggy,” Dr. Alon Avidan, associate director of the sleep disorders program at UCLA, said. “If you sleep [too late in the day], the tendency would be to get into the first deep sleep of the night from which you would wake groggy and grouchy.”


Chug a glass of water, right now. You’ll probably feel instantly more alert. Staying hydrated can help boost our energy, keep our minds alert, and can also curb hunger. One study published in 2006 found that people who consumed more fruit and vegetable juices actually had a decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.


Music stimulates the brain, and learning how to play a new instrument is one of the most complicated and glorious ways to exercise our mind-body connection and learning, memory, and coordination skills. Studies have of course shown that young children who learn music end up having stronger connections in the motor regions of the brain. Playing music also produces dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter.


Surprisingly, one of the best things to add to your routine is the habit of breaking it every once in a while. Getting too stuck in a routine can sometimes be limiting and become stagnant, and everyone needs a little variety every so often. It’ll keep you brain on its toes. “In doing so, you’ll stimulate new parts of your brain, encouraging it to make new connections,” Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Magnificent Mind at Any Age, told Men’s Health.

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