Mental Health Is Health
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Holistic health has pillars of focus: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. Mental illness has been on a steady increase in the past few years and has been a contributor to the increase in maternal mental illness and mortality. One in five women experience at least one mental illness, putting them at 40% higher risk of heart and metabolic diseases and suicide, the twelfth leading cause of death in the U.S. Up to 75% of maternal mental illness is left untreated, increasing long-term effects on mom, baby and the family—with suicide and overdose being the leading causes of death within the first year postpartum. I’m here to share some simple tips that can facilitate unshaming these conversations and understanding happy hormones and natural ways to release them. 

Mental illness can show up in different forms, and being aware is the first step in creating a solid foundation to create positive shifts in your health. And guess what—it’s not linear. It is imperative that we normalize these conversations, identify contributing factors and come together to create solutions. Supporting our mental health doesn’t need to be complicated, but sometimes we need permission to put ourselves first. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary.

We can start simple:
-Go outside, be in nature. This has been proven to be very grounding and releases a happy hormone.

-Vitamin D affects every cell in your body—be sure you’re getting enough. This can impact your mental health greatly.

– Magnesium—up to 90% of people are deficient with this mineral that contributes to hundreds of processes within the body, including gut and brain inflammation (mental health).

-Hold space and expression for emotion—we get so good at pushing uncomfortable feelings aside and over time, bury them. This will affect your overall health over time. Get it out: play, art, nature, expression—creativity creates positive mindsets.

-Establish a routine that brings you joy—maybe it’s exercise, journaling, affirmations or meditation. Find what you enjoy, then practice this daily to make it a habit.

-Put effort into positive relationships—human connection is necessary and can greatly impact your mental health.

– Know where you are with your physical health—illness and disease are tough on mental health. Become familiar with your history so you can advocate wellness before it becomes an illness.

What are your happy hormones?

There are four types of hormones that affect your mental health:

1. Dopamine: regulates movement and emotional responses. The good feeling when we accomplish a task or achieve a goal. Released from your midbrain. Listen to your favorite song, and get a good night’s rest.

2. Oxytocin: provides a protective effect when experiencing stress or trauma. Involved with bonding, adaptation, repair after injury and childbirth. Produced in your hypothalamus. Give hugs, hold/pet your pet, make something for someone.

3. Endorphins: associated with pain relief and regulate pain response. This is your “feel good” hormone. Produced by your pituitary gland. Exercise, eat dark chocolate, aromatherapy.

4. Serotonin: produces feelings of happiness, relaxation and contentment. This is your “happy.” If these levels are low, you may experience depression, anxiety, poor sleep patterns and irritability. Produced in your gut. Be in sunlight, meditate, nature walk/cardio, establish optimal gut health.

Mental health is health. For you, for me, our kids, our friends, our family, our neighbors. The more we talk about it, the more aware we are, and we become stronger together. Find a trusted provider that creates a safe space to discuss where your mental health is, find your fit for managing it, be informed and facilitate treatment that meets your needs.

Anne Schwanke, APRN, CNM, WHNP 

Let’s transform together and give you high-quality, personalized health care. Let’s find your full circle. 

How can I help you?

I’m Anne (pronounced “Annie”), and I am the owner/founder of Full Circle Women’s Health Clinic. I believe women are a full circle, and I strive to provide evidence-based full spectrum women’s health care in a personalized and holistic approach, partnering “with woman” and empowering her to make informed choices for her care. My heart is to give back to my community by offering alternative healthcare options for women. I am a board-certified nurse midwife with master’s degrees from Frontier Nursing University in nurse midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner.  


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