“World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.” – http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/
Mental Health may not be seen but it most certainly should be heard, with an estimated 1 in 6 people experiencing mental health challenges world wide this is something that needs discussing.
Depression and anxiety to name just a few conditions can be equally as debilitating as a broken leg with regards to accessing your life fully. Managing your mental health should be taken as a priority because the knock on effect is that all other areas of your life will become affected. I know, I have been there, I have had days where I have had to dig deep and then deeper to get through the day. Mental health may manifest in some of us as simply feeling a bit off or it may hold you hostage to your house or even your bed. Sometimes it improves by itself with no intervention but other times you need to receive support.
Signs of Depression
Recognising the signs is important because it is from this point that you will be able to take a step to healing. Below are a list of common symptoms associated with depression but it is not exhaustive and not everyone experiences depression the same.
- A desire to sleep in the day or for long periods of time.
- Feeling tired.
- Not feeling the enjoyment whilst doing activities that used to boost your mood.
- Feeling unsociable and not wanting to go out where you will be around people.
- Less concerned about your appearance.
- An increase or decrease in appetite.
- Making poor food choices repeatedly.
- Gaining or losing weight.
- Very little or no motivation for life.
- General feeling of lack-lustre for all areas in your life.
It is important to seek professional help if these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks.
Nutritional Tips to manage your Mental Wellbeing
A good balanced diet will also support your mental wellbeing and may alleviate some of the symptoms to empower yourself.
- Take Vitamin D – a vitamin D deficiency is quite common and can affect your immune system and your mental health leaving you feeling tired and unwell. This is easily sorted by incorporating a supplement into your daily routine. Also a short daily walk when the sunshine is out will help to boost your vitamin D levels and overall wellbeing.
- Eat Omega-3 Rich Foods – Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), flaxseeds and walnuts may help to reduce the symptoms of mental health.
- Eat lean Protein – Turkey, chicken, eggs and beans help to keep serotonin levels balanced which will reducing symptoms and support your overall cognitive function.
- Eat Whole Grains – The brain needs glucose and complex carbohydrates such a brown rice, quinoa, beans and oats is the best option to provide your brain with the energy without causing sugar spike.
- Eat Broccoli – Broccoli is a super food, containing selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral that is required effective immune system function and a lack of it may contribute to mental health problems.
- Look After Your Gut – Good gut health is essential. A gut bacteria imbalance can cause a range of health problems, but with regards to mental health the gut bacteria can make you feel anxious and unsettled. Including fermented foods, fresh fruits and vegetables into our daily diets will help to maintain the balance.
Good nutrition, is only one factor to managing mental wellbeing, but it is an important factor. Making dietary changes may only support you so far and it is important that you create a good support network with family, friends and qualified practitioners who can support you on your journey.
Alongside good balanced nutrition, I personally recommend a daily meditation practise. Mindfulness and meditation is a great method that brings your awareness into the here and now, accepting that all we truly have is the present moment. The affect meditation has on our mental health is well documented, research showing that it helps to regulate emotions, create new neurological pathways, calms the nervous system and helps ease pain and discomfort.
Managing your mental health ideally should be holistic, incorporating a variety of daily practises such as exercise, mindfulness, good nutrition that suits your body, having people to talk things through with and engaging in activities that make you happy.
Love and Light