It’s not all about doing sport and eating healthily. You have to embark on an internal process of care and healing.
“What’s happening inside you is reflected on the outside,” says Dalia Reyes, a clinical and occupational psychologist. She believes this phrase illustrates the topic. Yes, it’s important to exercise and eat healthily, but you have to take care of your mental health to look after your emotions. So, how do you stay physically and mentally healthy?
“So many people go through failures at work or family/personal problems and the first thing they do is go to the gym to try to feel better. Exercise helps us release certain types of happiness neurotransmitters, such as oxytocin, adrenaline, and serotonin,” explains the expert.
But the therapist says it isn’t all about sport. We have to begin an internal process of care and healing for that to be reflected externally.
According to Dalia Reyes, “First of all, we have to be careful about what we let into our minds. What type of content are we exposed to on a daily basis?
Psychologist Edgardo Flores, Professor of Family Sciences at the Higher Institute for Family Studies, says that in order to have both states, i.e. physical and mental health, we must prioritize acts that we’d usually leave until last or that we wouldn’t even consider.
“We have to develop habits that steer us toward gratitude, wellbeing, altruism, compassionate love, kindness, and ethical behavior, until they become part of our daily behavior.”
We should create the conditions for developing these habits, even if it’s little by little and without putting too much pressure on ourselves, which requires knowledge, conviction, determination, appropriate actions, and effort.
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Flores says that the first step to changing ourselves begins with not complaining.
“This means adopting an attitude of gratitude that leads us to the things we do have. Complaining is aimed at absence, what’s needed, the negative,” he explains.
We should break away from the dualistic outlook of our relationship with our surroundings and our loved ones that comes from animosity and attachment. By abandoning this stance, we slowly let go of suffering.
We should create a sense of community since we’re all interconnected with other human beings and our surroundings.
The therapist believes that self-centered or selfish outlooks tend towards suffering because everything is interpreted on a personal level. What’s more, the actions of these people only revolve around themselves, ignoring the global impact.
“Practice critical thinking, deep reflection, and philosophical and existential analyses. This will promote a flexible attitude. Rigid thinking tends to cause suffering and anxiety,” says Flores, who is a specialist in areas such as depression, existential crisis, and bereavement.
Edgardo Flores emphasizes how important it is to accept ourselves as we are, as well as to appreciate our daily achievements, avoiding non-existent “ideal” figures or comparing ourselves with others.
He invites us to reallocate the time we spend on social media as it’s all an illusion.
Although it is important to receive guidance from a nutritionist who recommends an adequate diet of nutrients appropriate to our age, gender, stature, and physical activity, he also explains that we have to improve our relationship with food and see it as an expression of self-care and pleasure.
We should get away from those ideas that demonize certain food groups and be aware of what we’re eating.
“While exercise is a reflection of our body’s current capabilities, we should leave limitations or judgments behind, or stop looking at it as punishment,” he says.
He adds that we should see sleep as something valuable to ourselves or as a complement to success. Preconceptions about it being a waste of time or something unnecessary that prevents us from reaching our goals and dreams are erroneous. Sleep disorders are more likely to affect our physical and mental state.
Flores recommends learning about different cultural expressions, appreciating and valuing the diversity of personalities, styles and forms.
We should get out of our comfort zone and explore topics that could even be considered “difficult”, such as mathematics, science, sociology, or anthropology, since a broad knowledge of the world will give us perspective on the complexity of nature and the self.
According to Dalia Reyes, we’re the creators of what’s going on around us, but far from seeing it that way, we let what’s happening on the outside influence, control, and change our emotions.
She recommends meditation, a practice that, “helps us manage our stress levels because the postures in which you hold your body are for relaxation. The vertebrae, back, and shoulders are aligned. Just by having correct posture, closing your eyes, and paying attention to your deep breathing, you’ll achieve a state of calmness.”
It’s not a common practice among Mexicans, but you can start with five minutes and gradually lengthen the time. “It’s a practice that connects you with your inner self, which helps relieve stress and gets rid of worries.”
When faced with a crisis or when many positive and negative situations occur during the day that can wear us down and make us feel bad, taking time to read a book, solve a crossword, or paint a mandala will help exercise the mind in a positive way.
And it’s a matter of gradually changing habits. Instead of getting home from work tired and watching television and feeling more exhausted, we should set aside recreational time for an activity we enjoy that allows us to use our imagination, suggests the specialist in psychoanalysis.
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Experts reflect on what we can do to improve our health. (Photo: iStock)