TWEET THIS1 in 6 people in the UK report experiencing common mental health issues like anxiety and depression every week. Click To Tweet Depression rates doubled during the pandemic but despite this, diagnoses by GPs fell by almost a quarter suggesting that access to mental health services is actually declining. Click To Tweet
Many would advocate that ‘health’ is holistic, encompassing the whole of mind, body & soul. To back this up World Health Organisation defines ‘health’ as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Despite this, most of us tend to associate being healthy with being physically fit, neglecting the mental and social aspects of our wellbeing. 1 in 6 people in the UK report experiencing common mental health issues like anxiety and depression every week (Mind UK, 2020). These conditions are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide, costing an estimated £1.6 trillion per year (Barton and Rogerson, 2017). Although the topic of mental health is gradually being taken more seriously, there is still a huge gap between demand and provision of treatment worldwide. Depression rates doubled during the pandemic but despite this, diagnoses by GPs fell by almost a quarter suggesting that access to mental health services is actually declining (The Health Foundation, 2021). With support from healthcare professionals not always available, more and more people are seeking alternative, holistic methods to improve their mental wellbeing. So in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re sharing 6 daily habits to improve your mental health.
Connect with nature
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is nature. While the benefits of spending time in nature are still being studied and understood, we’ve all experienced that sense of calm that comes from taking a quiet stroll in the park, walking barefoot in grass, or even just spending some time with your pets. Connecting with nature can help you feel more grounded and present in your body, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies suggest that nature scenes may activate our parasympathetic nervous system; the system that helps us calm down and recover from stressful events (Park et al 2010; Berto 2014; van den Berg et al 2015; Hunter et al 2019). So even if you don’t have access to outdoor green space, just by viewing nature imagery, you can experience fewer negative emotions, and a more positive mood (Golding et al 2018; McMahan and Estes 2015) et al 2017). Something as simple as buying a houseplant or changing your desktop image can make a difference. Why not see for yourself and try your hand at gardening with Wildflower Seeds from SOP.
Find your work/life balance
The pandemic has drastically changed the way many of us work. While working from home has had its many perks including no commuting, flexible schedules, and spending more time with loved ones, it has also blurred the lines between work and personal life. Working overtime, taking fewer breaks, and feeling isolated from work colleagues has lead to 29% of people feeling that working from home has negatively impacted their health and well-being (Royal Society for Public Health, 2021). To reduce this negative impact, it is important to set clear boundaries. Stop answering emails and messages sent after work hours and take a screen break to help you transition. Use this time to make yourself dinner or to have a relaxing bath. Give your self-care routine an upgrade with our collection of bath & shower pamper essentials.
Another aspect that negatively impacts mental health and often results from a lack of work/life balance is sleep deprivation. A phenomenon called revenge bedtime procrastination is gaining interest in sleep studies and describes the intentional decision to stay up late in order to make up for the lack of leisure time experienced during the day. However, the cycle of sleeping late and waking up early means our bodies often have less time to recharge, adversely affecting our mood as well as our ability to think clearly or make decisions. To combat this it is essential to maintain a consistent sleep routine. There are many highly effective natural supplements available to aid in experiencing better quality sleep including herbal teas and CBD. Check out our range of ‘hemp healers’ here, recommended for easing insomnia and helping with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Choose ‘mood-boosting’ foods
The food we eat has a major impact on our mental wellbeing; impacting our mood, energy levels, and ability to think clearly. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause irritability and result in come-downs throughout the day while imbalances in the gut can lead to mood swings, anxiety, and brain fog. Good gut health actually aids in the production of Serotonin a.k.a the ‘happiness’ hormone; our neurotransmitter which helps regulate our mood as well as our sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. So one easy way we can improve our mental health is by improving our diet. Swap out refined carbs and sugar for slow-release energy foods such as wholewheat pasta, oats, wholegrain bread, nuts, and seeds. Stay hydrated, get in your 5 a day and incorporate more fermented foods into your diet to give your body the nutrients it needs to regulate both your physical and mental function. For more on healthy food swaps to incorporate into your diet, check out our blog post on Easy eco swaps for a more healthy sustainable lifestyle: food & drink.
Take your vitamins
In a perfect world, we would always get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and eat all our fruits and vegetables but sometimes we just need an extra nutrient boost. Vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are essential for cognitive function and deficiencies can negatively impact our ability to regulate our mood. One way we can boost our brain vitality is to take vitamins and supplements more regularly. Studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of supplements such as omega-3 may ease symptoms of depression and anxiety while Vitamin B is reported to help regulate stress levels in the body. While the impact of vitamins on mental health still requires more in-depth study, we can all benefit from giving ourselves the nutrients we need for optimal wellbeing. Discover our range of high-quality, plant-based supplements and vitamins, here!
Most of us are aware by now of the amazing benefits of exercise. Even just a short 10-minute burst of physical activity can improve mood, increase mental alertness and boost energy. Whether it’s your daily work commute or a weekend pilates class, we can all afford to add a little more movement into our day. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and can also improve self-esteem and provide an opportunity to socialise with others, reducing feelings of loneliness or isolation. Ready to start your exercise journey and want to look the part? Check out our range of women’s and men’s activewear.
So those are just a few easy ways to positively improve your mental health. While these solutions are suggested to help with mild symptoms, they are not to be taken in place of medical advice. Always seek help from a professional when you need it and recognise that you are never alone.