Nutrition Tips To Support Mental Health
Along with exercise, quality sleep and stress management, getting the right balance of nutrients into your body is essential for good physical and mental health. Both are completely interlinked so by supporting your physical health you are supporting your mental health and vice versa. Even making small changes to your diet can improve the way you feel.
Eating an overall balanced diet is key, however, certain nutrients are particularly important when it comes to mood balance and supporting your body’s ability to handle anxiety/stress.
Key Foods to support mood balance and resistance to stress:
- Brown rice, Quinoa
- Root vegetables
- Beans & Lentils
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Oily Fish
- Nuts & seeds
- Dark chocolate (in moderation!)
- Protein rich food e.g. chicken, turkey, eggs, fish.
There is no doubt that our emotional health has a massive impact on our physical well being. The two are intimately connected. Despite modern medicine’s strong insistence on separating the head from the body and viewing it as a separate entity, we are all one organism and emotions manifest physically as dis-ease and blockages in the physical body.
I see SO many clients in clinic whose physical health decline began with an emotional trauma.
Mike George, the author of ‘The Immune System of the Soul’ has aptly put it thus:
“Our wellbeing is primary and the physical health of our body is secondary. However, because we know so little about what it means to ‘be well’ and how to ‘stay well’ in our being, we make our physical health primary and almost ignore the wellness of our being’.
He goes on to say that suffering is a choice and that we alone are responsible for our thoughts and emotions. I see examples of this numerous times during my clinic week. I come across minds and emotions that need healing as much as the bodies (if not more!). There is an emotional aspect to every illness.
There are 2 key themes that I see in clinic that we ‘carry’ with us that stop healing, see if these feel and sound familiar:
Not being able to forgive someone who has hurt you deeply.
lf you carry resentment or anger towards anybody who has hurt you in your life- ever- it will do damage in the body. Usually the organ impacted is the liver. It is not surprising that I see so many issues with liver health in clinic as do many doctors and natural health care practitioners.
We carry our resentment and it eats away at our health and slows vital body functions. Let it go. Forgive. Move on.
It is easier said than done, but I encourage you to firstly identify who or what you are carrying resentment towards and then work to let it go.
Experience your emotions so that they don’t ‘get stuck’ in a body part and lead to illness. It’s a pretty out there concept, but as anyone with chronic pain can tell you- emotions are related to every condition.
Find ways to experience your emotions without eating them away or medicating them away. Just sit with the sadness, anger, frustration- whatever it is- experience it and let it go. Your body will thank you!
This shows up as anxiety. Almost every single person I see in clinic has anxiety. It is an epidemic of our world. Anxiety is rooted in the deepest centre of our brain- the amygdala- a very primal, reptilian area responsible for the emotion of fear.
Anxiety can manifest as day to day worry that we learn to live with and can range all the way to serious debilitating fear that dominates our life and will manifest with physical symptoms. All forms of fear stem from the same ‘viral belief’ which is, ‘I am about to lose something‘. An object, reputation, someone’s approval, a promotion, a loved one. We worry for others to show that we care.
Anxiety can be paralysing for many and can stop us from undertaking day to day tasks like catching public transport, meeting friends, applying for a new job, buying new clothes, it can really be anything. Anxiety also stems from spending too much time trying to predict the future and not living mindfully in the present moment.
Ultimately, to overcome anxiety and fear of loss that goes with it is to understand that nothing can be lost because nothing is ours to lose in the first place!
‘You cannot lose anything that you do not have. In reality, you have nothing. When you realise this, then the false sense of self that was the result of identifying with what you thought was ‘mine’ is dead’.
We can only control what we think and feel, nothing else. Not other people or their emotions and not external events. Once we realise that trying to control others is a waste of time we can let go of the fears associated with loss and stop the cycle of anxiety.
I do find nutritional approaches to address anxiety at a physical level very helpful and have had great success with this in clinic. However, the techniques discussed below that address the emotional underpinnings of anxiety can be extremely helpful.
How to improve your Emotional Health and Heal Yourself from the inside out.
Here are some strategies that I have personally found useful and have used successfully in clinic in order to achieve piece of mind, to clear past hurts, to allow the body to restore itself and to move on and allow nutritional strategies to work better:
1. Emotional Freedom Technique aka ‘Tapping’
Use this link to learn how to do it, I promise it is very simple: http://eft.mercola.com/
Tapping is a great and very effective way to encourage emotional healing. It is based around the concept of self love, which is so vital in order for us to be able to love others, as well as to love our bodies and consequently to help us nourish our bodies with the right foods. If you truly love yourself and your body, you will not put junk into it. The problem is that many many many people have a lot of trouble with the statement ‘I deeply love and accept myself’.
It is actually quite incredible how many highly intelligent and aware people I have come across who simply do not believe this statement!! However, regardless of whether this statement rings true for you or not, by practicing tapping/EFT and simply saying this every day several times re-programs your brain to believe it. I wouldn’t have believed it myself except I personally tried it and and see it works with my clients who use it as a tool.
I encourage you to put aside any skepticism and try this today. Just do it. If you choose 1 thing and 1 thing only to try in the new year, make it Tapping.
I put meditation second to tapping, because I keep hearing this statement every single day: “I can’t meditate. I’ve tried, just can’t do it. My mind is too busy. Too many thoughts. It’s not for me.” Sound familiar??
Meditation can be tricky for us because we are so over-stimulated by media, our to-do list, our kids, our work, everything. It takes practice and concentration. However, the amount of scientific evidence for meditation is so vast and the benefits so great that I really encourage you to try again. I find the most effective way is to have a personalised meditation recorded for you so that your personal issues can be addressed in a very specific way, rather than listening to generic meditations online. Learn meditation easily with Mindfulness Teacher- Scott Allerton -more details at: www.sydneyintegrativehypnotherapy.com.au
Meditation is deeply healing and I encourage you to practice it. Do not give up after a few attempts- this is like saying ‘I tried exercise and it’s just not for me’!!! You need to try again. And again. And again. Are you getting my message? 🙂 It’s called meditation PRACTICE.
3. Seek body work practitioners that facilitate emotional health
Many modalities are available, some examples include: Reiki, Massage, Reflexology, Shamanic healing, Kinesiology, Breath work, Astrology, etc. I can hear your brain ticking over and whispering: ‘Ummm none of that stuff really works’. Well I’m here to tell you that it does. If it didn’t work in the past you either:
a) Saw the wrong practitioner
b) Were not open to receive the treatment/learnings
c) Were not ready to embrace what the treatment was offering because it was too confronting
d) All of above
These therapies can be extremely complimentary to your nutritional and lifestyle program and can offer some very effective and fast results that simply following a diet and lifestyle plan cannot.
4. Practice Heart Math focused breathing
Heart math is a way to use breathing and heart energy to regulate emotions and allow you to get in touch with your intuition. Heart Math’s founder “believes the intelligence of the human heart is a powerful force that can lead humanity away from the destructive cycles of stress and discord toward a future of lasting peace and harmony”. Using our heart energy and deep breathing can be truly healing.
You can learn more about this here and look at practical solutions to reduce stress and heal emotionally: https://www.heartmath.org/resources/solutions-for-stress/
There are many scientific studies that have validated this phenomenon. One tool that I have personally used and found very effective is a phone app called ‘Inner Balance’ that works with a breathing monitor (sold separately, <$200) that connects to your phone and monitors breathing whilst giving you feedback of whether you have reached a coherent (stress free) state.
This is a great tool to use especially if you have a 9-5 job sitting at a desk and stressing about deadlines- it’s a simple way to focus and remind yourself to breathe deeply. But of course it is for everyone and is very effective to constantly reduce stress, which over time facilitates emotional healing.
5. See an Integrative Hypnotherapist
If you’ve tried the usual psychological therapies such as councelling and didn’t find they helped because it was just ‘more talking about my trauma/problems that I didn’t want to re-live’ then you need to consider Hypnotherapy.
Therapists who are highly qualified in hypnotherapeutic techniques can zero in on your specific emotional block very quickly and whilst you are in a ‘relaxed state of heightened suggestibility’ (trance) can talk directly to your subconscious and shut down traumatic pathways and build new calm/positive pathways.
This approach works for all emotional trauma, addictions, anxiety, stress and many others.
I hope that the 5 ways to help emotional health described above will help you get yourself on track in the new year.
Reference: Mike George, “The Immune system of the Soul”, 2013, Gavisus Media
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