IT’S MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK
As we navigate our way out of the current physical and social restrictions, we also need to take time to acknowledge the impact these last 12 months have had on our mental health and well-being. This week is Mental Health Awareness week and we want to share some top tips with you!
Here are our top 10 tips:
This year’s theme for mental health awareness week is nature. During the long lockdowns many of us have turned to nature. Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, reducing feelings of isolation and can be effective in protecting our mental health and preventing stress. Taking time out for ourselves to just be, noticing the nature around us and listening to the birdsong. A walk out in nature is a great opportunity to not only connect with nature but also with family or friends now the rules have relaxed. These simple connections can make the world of difference to our well-being.
TALKING AND SHARING
We are all going on our journeys through life and by sharing our experiences, thoughts and feelings, it isn’t just helpful for others, it can be good for you too. The taboo in talking about mental health is thankfully changing but we can still find it uncomfortable to open up. Speaking out can feel liberating and helps to re-affirm your values and sharing your story may resonate with someone else and encourage them to seek help. The more we talk the easier it gets!
Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation is a form of torture so a good “sleep hygiene” is essential. Avoid reaching for your technology too close to bedtime as the blue light disrupts your brain’s ability to switch off. Instead try reading a good book and/or have a relaxing bath with some aromatherapy scents such as lavender and ylang ylang to soothe body and mind. Also try and avoid caffeine especially later on in the day, instead reach for a Sweet Revolution Chai latte with Reishi, a medicinal mushroom that can help reduce stress, anxiety and promote restful sleep.
FOOD AND MOOD
The way we eat and what we eat can have a huge impact on our mental health. A healthy diet can improve your mood, energise you and help you think more clearly. Looking after our gut is key, there is a very close link between our tummies and our brain, a healthy gut = healthy brain.
- Eat regularly and choose foods that release energy slowly to keep your blood sugar levels steady (if they drop you may feel tired, irritable and low). Slow-release energy foods include wholegrain pasta, rice and oats as well as nuts and seeds
- Avoid foods such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks and alcohol as these can lead to spikes in your bloods sugar
- Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water ideally 6-8 glasses a day (tea, coffee, juices and smoothies all count, although avoid the sugary, fizzy and caffeinated ones!). Staying hydrated helps you concentrate, think clearer and keep you regular! A great way to incorporate water in to your daily routine is to have a glass 20 minutes before you eat – it will aid digestion too.
- Make sure you get your minimum of “5 a day”. Fruit and vegetables contain loads of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals. Try and eat the rainbow to get a good range of nutrients.
- Protein is also very important; it contains amino acids which help regulate our thoughts and feelings and help you feel fuller for longer (protein rich foods include beans and pulses)
- There has been a lot of recent research regarding our gut microbiome and how this can affect our mood. Eating foods rich in fibre, fermented foods and prebiotics can all help to increase the flora fauna in our guts and improve digestion.
- Manage your caffeine intake. Whilst it gives you a burst of energy as that subsides it can leave you feeling anxious.
- Eating the right fats – our brains need the essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6, so don’t avoid all fats just choose the right ones such as those found in nuts, olives, seeds and avocado.
Physical exercise is a great stress buster and natural energy booster making a happier you. By working up a sweat our bodies increase in chemicals that can moderate the brain’s response to stress and release the happy endorphins! Not only do you improve your cardiovascular health but your overall physical health will improve; less tension, less stress, less mental fatigue, less frustration, more focus, more motivation, a sense of achievement. Better still, do your physical activity outside and take in the natural surroundings!
Mindfulness is an ever-growing popular method to help balance our mental well-being. Our busy lifestyles have made it very easy for us to stop noticing the world around and lose touch with the way our bodies and minds are feeling. Connecting, paying attention and bringing awareness to the present moment helps us to understand ourselves better by taking notice of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around us. There are lots of apps, such as “Calm” and “Headspace”, which are available to download and that can help facilitate your mindfulness journey.
Thoughts become things – choose the good ones!
Hobbies exercise the brain and give us relief from the day-to-day grind and creates focus and a goal. Hobbies help you relax, make you happy, can be social, a great way to make new friends, increasing connection and ultimately help relieve depression, anxiety and stress. It can help motivate in a stress-free environment and can even increase productivity.
Learning is good for our minds and bodies. Learning a new skill or language, experiencing new things, overcoming challenges can benefit our well-being by creating a sense of purpose. When we are occupied with our aims and goals it is harder for the mind to wander into the worries of the past and the future.
GIVE SOMETHING BACK – VOLUNTEER
Volunteering can be a wonderful way to connect with people and give something back by contributing and helping others.
HAVE A LAUGH
Research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-ranging. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine. Whilst increasing the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. So, remember to laugh whenever you can!