As part of mental health month, we explore ways to maintain a happy and healthy mind while staying safe at home, including tips and tricks to help you battle the blues. In part 1 of 2, we explore how eating the right food and keeping your body moving can really help to keep you motivated.

Food 

What we eat can have a big influence on how we feel, helping to balance physical, mental and emotional health so here’s our nutritional top tips to eat yourself happy:

  1. Include protein at every meal & snack – this helps to stabilise our mood by keeping blooding sugar balanced. Protein also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps us to produce to serotonin, known as our ‘happy hormone’. The highest levels are found in turkey, cottage cheese and nuts.
  2. B vitamins – prolonged periods of stress and anxiety can deplete our stores and lead to low mood, B vits also help to produce serotonin. Good sources include whole grains, eggs and green leafy veg.
  3. Omega 3 – our brain needs healthy fats to function. Omega 3, mostly found in oily fish, flax and chia seeds helps to increases production of our ‘feel good hormone’ dopamine and slows the breakdown of serotonin. 
  4. Gut health – 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut so good digestion can be crucial to the production and function of serotonin. Feed beneficial bacteria with pre and probiotic foods like green bananas, onions, garlic and yoghurt or make your own sauerkraut – massaging the ingredients can be a great de-stresser!
  5. Moderate sugar, caffeine and alcohol – which can negatively impact blood glucose balance, gut health, mood, energy levels and sleep. They may also increase stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, making us feel anxious and irritable.

Movement

The positive effects of exercise are well researched with a wealth of benefits for both our physical and mental health.

  1. Boost self-esteem – just 20 minutes in the morning will get those endorphins going and help you feel better (and often more productive) throughout the day, plus getting fit can improve body image. 
  2. Group exercise – provides the extra benefit of social contact, and with many gyms, PTs and yoga studios offering online classes why not give it a go?
  3. Head outdoors – as well as fresh air and access to nature, sunlight will top up critical vitamin D stores to help boost our mood and immune health. It’s impossible to get enough vit D from food, and Public Health England now recommended supplementing throughout the spring/summer due to increased time indoors.
  4. Get online – if access to outside space is limited, YouTube is your friend, there are a huge variety of workouts online from circuits and HIIT to yoga and kickboxing.
  5. Stretch – if you’re struggling to motivate yourself for a ‘proper workout’, don’t stress, simply take 5-10 minutes to stretch it out, if you’re sitting for hours on end your body will thank you!

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our social channels for the next instalment of Mental Health at Home!