We can use the following three steps to help bring health, strength and balance into our lives, when we need it the most.

Charlie Claydon - Founder

I grew up believing I was an anxious person by nature, and that there was nothing I could do about it.  It didn’t occur to me I could quieten the anxiety I was experiencing by changing my lifestyle. I followed the three steps we discuss in this section.

I struggled in social situations, had regular and reoccurring feelings of depression and was very self-critical. Somedays I would wake up feeling so anxious that I felt physically sick. I found a way to change this and now I live a good life, with normal ups and downs. I feel calm and in control, which is not something I could say before I made these changes. I still have some work to do, I have 30 years of negative thought patterns to unravel, but it doesn't feel impossible anymore, and I can see and feel myself evolving everyday. 

One thing that I must mention is how significantly changing my diet saved me. Tests found I had no food allergies, but cutting out gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol halted the depression and anxiety I experienced on a reoccurring, and often daily basis. The connection between what we eat and how we feel is getting the recognition is deserves by doctors - in medical terms it's called the 'brain-gut axis' There are also studies on food and mood, such as Grain Brain, which you can see below. 

I would also recommend researching the Clean diet which you can see here

On a daily basis I lived with crippling anxiety and it was only changing my lifestyle that stopped this. Years of trying every treatment I could, and in the end, it was changing my diet that saved me the most. I now follow a plantbased diet and I avoid drinking, or anything that may elevate my heart rate like caffeine. This couldn’t be anymore opposite to the person I use to be, I simply wouldn't have believed you if you'd told me this is the direction I would go in one day. But that’s exactly what happened, and I couldn’t be happier about it. 

Renowned neurologist Dr David Perlmutter, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: gluten and carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more.

Step 1 - Food For Thoughts

The first step is to change what we’re eating and drinking. This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle change. With this in mind, please ensure you consult your doctor before making any big changes.

It’s no secret that fresh natural foods like fruit and vegetables are the best thing you can consume, so let’s include plenty in our diet.

It can be difficult to avoid all these things listed, as many foods are made using these products. The best advice we can give is, avoid all packaged and fast foods. Stick to fresh foods as much as possible and you’ll find eating ‘better’ a lot easier. 

The carbohydrates we eat are broken down into simple sugars called glucose, and absorbed into the blood stream. When we eat refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, sugar and biscuits, our blood glucose levels rise too quickly. Our body then produces a hormone called insulin to quickly lower blood glucose levels. Low blood glucose levels result in low mood and irritability. So, blood sugar fluctuations can significantly contribute to low mood. One of the things we cut out from our diet was refined sugar, and it has made the world of difference.

REMOVE CAFFEINE

This can be a difficult change for most people, we too use to rely heavily on our tea and coffee. However, caffeine is one of the key causes of anxiety in the workplace. A high intake can lead to stress and panic attacks. So, if you’re feeling anxious, replace coffee with calming herbal teas such as St. John’s Wort, chamomile or liquorice.

AVOID ALCOHOL, SMOKING & RECREATIONAL DRUGS

Alcohol and recreational drugs directly affects the brain by altering levels of neurotransmitters — the chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body that controls thought processes, behaviour and emotion. A glass of chilled white wine at the end of the working day might seem like the perfect way to unwind. However, alcohol is a depressant. Research into smoking and stress has shown that instead of helping people to relax, smoking actually increases anxiety and tension.

INCREASE INTAKE OF OMEGA 3

Studies have shown that the more fish the population of a country eats, the lower their incidence of depression. This is due to an essential fatty acid in fish known as EPA (Omega 3). EPA is a powerful natural anti-depressant.

Did you know that Omega 3 is naturally produced by algae, not fish? Just like us, fish only get omega 3 from the foods they eat. It all starts with tiny microscopic algae plants that convert the sun's energy into omega 3. Krill eat the algae, and the fish eat the krill.

You can out the middleman by taking omega 3 straight from algae. This allows you to benefit from the purest form of omega 3 available and means no fish are killed and no oceanic ecosystems are destroyed in the process. As an added bonus, you're spared the fishy aftertaste, too!

 

You can also get omega 3 from flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

To find out more about the health benefits of certain foods, follow the link we have provided to check out the fantastic website created by Nature Cures

Is it expensive to eat healthier food?

Studies have shown that it can be more expensive to eat healthy. However, if we shop smart and eat less meat we can actually eat a lot cheaper! Cooking On A Bootstrap is a fantastic resource created by Jack Munroe that helps us eat better for less. 

This is certainly not the only resource, but your journey can start here. Food is our fuel! What we put into our bodies is the most important thing we do on a daily basis, so it is worth the investment of our time to get it right.

LOWER INTAKE OF REFINED CARBOHYDRATES

Step 2 - Feeling Physical

EXERCISE! Time to get the blood pumping around our bodies and produce all those amazing endorphins that make us feel happy. When we attempted to exercise in the past we found ourselves loosing interest and enthusiasm to carry on.

After changing our diet however, we found we had a whole new attitude towards exercising. Probably because we had more energy to burn.

 

We cannot guarantee you’ll have a spring in your step everyday, but we can tell you that your new reserves of energy will help you push through those tougher days.

Your goals for exercising are your own. Loose weight, gain muscle, tone up and build stamina or all of the above. Any form of exercise is beneficial, but be sure to push yourself. The difference between a gentle jog and a good run could be what defines your success.

YOGA!! Numerous studies have consistently demonstrated the preventative and curative benefits of yoga on a variety of mental health and physical conditions, helping to improve the lives and wellbeing of people of all ages and from all walks of life. Please see more about this here.

Step 3 – Mindfulness

If you haven’t already done so, we highly recommend reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

 

Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety.

“Whether you want to learn new techniques for coping with stress in the workplace or at home, manage anxiety or depression or improve your concentration, energy levels and enjoyment of life, Mindfulness is a valuable tool. In fact, mindfulness meditation can have such a positive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing that many GPs say that all people could benefit from learning the techniques” – BeMindful.co.uk

Example of Mindfulness

When you are getting ready for the day ahead, you may be ‘in your head’ as you’re doing it, thinking about what you have to do later, what happened yesterday, worrying about future events, or regretful thoughts about the past. This is not being mindful, you are not in the moment.

When you are getting ready for the day ahead bring your attention to the task in hand. Instead of thinking about the past or future, focus on the present. For example, if you’re having a wash, notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on your skin, the texture of the bubbles, listen to the sounds around you. This is being mindful, noticing what is happening in the present moment.

 

You can find a list of mindfulness courses in your area by following the link we have provided to “Be Mindful”.

Copyright © 2016 My Mental Health

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