writer & housewife blogging about life



Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Simple Changes I Have Made to Improve my Mental Health.

Nicki Kinickie, Mental Health Awareness, Anxiety, Depression, Self Help, Healthy Living, Healthy Changes,

After my granddad had a heart attack he was given a ton of information on how to improve his diet and lifestyle in order to avoid it happening again. If you are diagnosed with diabetes you are usually given information on what foods to eat and avoid to help maintain the condition.

So when I recently read comments about how you can't maintain your mental health with your diet and lifestyle I scoffed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course but as someone who has made positive changes to her life and reaps the benefits of doing so I have to strongly disagree with those comments.

So much so I wanted to share details of the changes I have made to my daily life that have impacted me for the better so if anyone out there is reading this and wanting to make lifestyle changes to improve mental health and wellbeing but are unsure where to start, hopefully these tips will help.

1) Read Daily Inspirational Quotes

There was an article recently which claimed all these quotes we see floating around on the internet were actually bad for our mental health because they set unrealistic goals and promote the notion that failure isn't an option. While a lot of them can seem a bit OTT I have to say positive quotes have had nothing but a positive effect on me and my wellbeing.

I tend to reflect on ones about mental health, positive thinking, self confidence etc etc as they are ones most relevant to me and spend a few minutes each day reading through different quotes on Pinterest to pep me up. I also have tons of quotes dotted around the house to keep me inspired.

2) Yoga

I swear to god yoga is great for anything. I have been recommended yoga a few times as I have a back weakness from my labour with Savannah and now have an issue with my shoulder called 'Thoracic Outlet Syndrome' which is worsened by sitting at my desk typing.

Unable to keep paying out for weekly trips to the osteopath and having read yoga is amazing for well being and mental health as well as physical ailments I decided to give it a go. I found a beginners playlist on YouTube and went from there.

If I don't do yoga in the mornings now I notice a difference in my general feeling. It is uplifting and soothing plus it is really good if you if you need to build strength or have ailments. You don't have to live with these problems, you can definitely improve them.

3) Walking

I am not a fan of exercise but I am a fan of walking so make a point of trying to walk a minimum of three miles most days. It is obviously great for fitness and weight loss but it is brilliant for mental health too.

I love walking into town most days, running a couple of errands, taking Savannah to the park and our favourite coffee shop, greeting the dog walkers with a friendly 'good morning'. I feel like part of the community a bit more now and that I am taking in my surroundings properly rather than getting in a car to dart here there and everywhere quickly.

It has massively improved my wellbeing so much so I have become slightly addicted to walking now!

4) Cutting Stimulants

I have switched my tea and coffee for decaf versions and even my diet coke, which I have now and then if I fancy something sweet, is the caffeine free version. I have even stopped drinking alcohol now because it was severely affecting my sleep and anxiety and am noticing a huge difference.

Every now and then if I am out I may end up having a regular coffee or the 'proper' coffee from our machine (which we have at weekends) is caffeinated but I make sure not to have any past midday. If I do I notice a big difference in my sleep pattern; I dream more and have broken sleep, I can also wake up anxious (alcohol especially does this).

If you are having issues with sleep or night time anxiety I recommend cutting the caffeine and stimulants out.

5) Healthier Options of Naughty Foods

We all enjoy a treat now and then but in 2018 there are so many better versions of our treat foods that we can still enjoy a yummy treat but with much less guilt!

There are also tons of amazing clean eating cooks out there whose recipes are easy to follow. I love baking us Deliciously Ella's apple and blackberry crumble which is dairy, gluten  and refined sugar free but really delicious for example. It is quick to make and Savannah loves helping (and eating it!) too.

I am an ice cream fiend so am always sure to have some in the freezer but these days opt for 'healthier' versions such as Halo Top, Oppo, Breyers or Booja Booja. Yes you pay more but they last a long time and are worth it. You can also buy them when they're on offer which is what I do. As I limit my treats to just weekends the ice cream lasts ages.

They are still naughty foods so be sure to only serve up small portions (this too will help the ice cream last longer). I also keep dark chocolate in the fridge and sometimes have a piece of that when I fancy something sweet. I also have my (caffeine free) diet coke to hand too.

Whatever your food weakness, try and opt for the healthier version of it.

6) Routine with Food

One thing I have noticed a lot of other people with mental health issues do when they're down is binge on bad food. I am not trying to shame anyone, I totally understand why people would do this and have done it countless times myself (it's actually why I have put on a bit of weight this year) but in the long run it does nothing but make you worse. Eat shit and you feel shit.

By binging on junk food and sweet stuff not only are you more prone to putting on weight (which personally depresses me when I do too) you increase your insulin levels too quickly which causes them to crash again later on, this vastly affects your mood and isn't good for general health either.

You will be bloated, lethargic and unmotivated which is the exact opposite to what you need when you feel low. You need to put goodness in your body, you might not want to but you will be thankful you did in the long run. Have a routine with food too so you don't run the risk of binging in the week. Save your treats for weekends.

Don't get me wrong, some of these tips can be hard especially when having a difficult day but aim to stick with them as much as you can and if you fail, don't worry, just pick yourself up and start again.

Photo: Katie Jade Photography

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