01 Jun Where’s your head at? My mental health tips to have a good day, every day
Last month was Mental Health Awareness week and it got me thinking about my own mental wellbeing. My path in life hasn’t always been an easy one – anxiety, depression, low confidence, and low self-esteem: I’m no stranger to them. In the past there were days when I couldn’t get out of bed, but now, thanks to finding the right help and resources, I’ve found happiness, peace, and fulfilment.
Would you like to be able to feel your very best all the time? When every day is a good day at work, when you can think clearly, and you feel happy and vibrant, calm and relaxed? You’re focused and driven, you’re able to sleep soundly. You wake up clear-headed and excited about the day ahead and your future.
Well guess what, you can! And it’s easier than you think. Did you know there are some really simple steps you can take to make this happen? Here are all my secrets that help me go through my week filled with energy and passion.
The first of my mental health tips is the MOST important: take care of yourself and put yourself first. I know it’s easier said than done, with busy lives, and family and work responsibilities, but it really is a gamechanger. You have to make time for you, so you have the space to check in with yourself and put some of these tips into practice. Think of it like being on an aeroplane; when they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first! You need to be functioning well yourself, so that you’re at your best for everyone else.
1. Feed your mind:
You knew this already, but keep the junk food out of your house! What you put in your body has such a powerful impact on your mental health. Eating healthy food promotes the growth of “good” bacteria in your gut, which helps your body produce the chemicals in your brain you need to feel happy and balanced. If you eat lots of junk food, you’ll get lots of inflammation in your gut and throughout your whole body that messes with the production of these chemicals. Ever noticed how sluggish and low you can feel after you’ve eaten something unhealthy – this is why!
Make sure you think about the nutritional value the food is going to give you before you eat it. Plan your meals ahead, or at least the night before, so you don’t order a takeaway or grab something quick and unhealthy when hunger strikes.
What should you eat?:
Feed your body and mind with foods rich in healthy fats like olive oil and avocados. Omega 3 is so good for your brain and can instantly boost your mood, you’ll find it in wild-caught fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as nuts like walnuts.
Eating meat is a tricky one to weigh up. On one hand, eating loads of intensely farmed meat has been linked to various illnesses in studies. BUT on the other hand, high quality animal products are packed with nutrients. It all comes down to where the meat comes from and what the animal has been eating and drinking, and what drugs they’ve been treated with.
The best thing to do is be picky about your meat, eat good quality organic, grass fed meat with no nasties and avoid processed meat like sausages and cold cuts. Grass fed meat also has a better fatty acid composition and contains more antioxidants than intensely farmed meat.
When you eat meat, add spices that will support digestion and absorption such as herbs, ginger, and turmeric. It’s also a good idea to eat it with foods that support absorption such as pineapple, papaya and sauerkraut.
Try and avoid frying your meat, and slow cook it instead, using natural herbs and spices like Tumeric. This means you won’t be eating things that can cause inflammation in your body and brain and cause your mood to dip.
Eat the rainbow, loads of multicoloured fruit and veg has so many health benefits. Brightly coloured fruit and veg is full of powerful antioxidants, which protect the cells in your body and brain. They are so amazing; studies have shown eating lots of this kind of veg can even delay the onset of dementia in some people – wow!
Green leafy vegetables are a must. Did you know we should eat 5-9 portions of fruit, veg and berries a daily? Only about 10 percent of people meet these recommendations. Veg will help you up your fibre intake which is great for gut health, which influences mood.
My daily menu for feeling energised and happy:
I start the day with lemon water with Celtic salt. This keeps me hydrated after a night’s fast. The lemon juice will level out your gastric acids and the Celtic salt will balance your adrenal glands.
After that I have a Bulletproof coffee, which gives me an energy boost, makes me feel alert, and keeps me full until lunchtime.
Then I’ll have a veggie smoothie, or a protein shake. In my smoothie I put carrots, beetroot, kale, spinach, cucumber, berries, and coconut milk in my smoothies – yum my fav! I add Spirulina because it’s also an anti-oxidant with loads of benefits.
I like to have a whey protein shake which I mix with the essential amino acids creatine and tyrosine. These amino acids will give you an energy boost, so it’s great if you’re working out, or if you’re doing something creative. The shake will also really help with alertness.
Lunch is slow cooked meat or fish with salad, rice, or pasta. Then, my evening meal is slow cooked meat or fish with veg and sweet potatoes, or rice noodles, and a cup of bone broth.
Complex carbohydrates like sweet potato are a must because they increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect.
Sweet potatoes are great to have after you’ve exercised, to supplement the depleted glycogen reserves in the muscles. It’s also good to have sweet potato with your evening meal because they are great sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and will help you relax. They contain Vitamin B6, which helps turn on serotonin, a “feel good” neurotransmitter in your brain.
Like everyone, I need a snack sometimes, but rather than raid the biscuit tin, now I go for fruit like pineapple, berries, kiwis, or oranges. Yoghurt with berries. Or brazil nuts. All these things will give you an energy boost without that horrible sugar crash you get from eating unhealthy snacks.
Hydration is so important. Water flushes all the toxins out of your body and is really good for the brain and clearing the mind.
I leave a bottle in every room of my house, so there is always a cue for me to remember to drink. I drink about 4 litres a day. Try it and you’ll instantly feel more energised, I swear! It can help with alertness, concentration, focus and productivity. It also makes your skin look glowing and gets rid of wrinkles!
If you want to drink something other than water, ginger tea, celery juice, and carrot juice are also great for boosting your mood and calming inflammation in your gut.
2. Supercharge yourself with supplements:
Did you know that there are all kinds of vitamins and minerals you can take that will make a real difference to how you feel? Finding out the best supplements to improve my mindset has been so powerful for me. Here are the ones that have helped me:
Vitamin B12 – Want to feel happy and full of beans? B12 is a must! B12 helps enhance the production of serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones that get you feeling buzzed. It also helps your cells produce energy, so if you take it every day you’ll feel full of vitality.
Vitamin C – people who have vitamin C deficiency often feel fatigued or depressed. If I top mine up it always improves my mood
Vitamins E & A- Both these vitamins have been associated with better cognitive performance, so if you start taking them your mind will become much clearer and you’ll feel a lot more level-headed.
Vitamin A also supports the heart, lungs, kidneys, and immune system. Unless you eat a lot of liver or oysters (not everyone’s fav foods!) taking a quality vitamin supplement A is a good idea. It can improve your immunity and even your sleep.
Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthen the body’s natural defence against illness and infection (the immune system). It is also important for vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain and skin. Plus it has antioxidant properties – well worth taking.
Vitamin D and K2 – Did you know that lots of studies have shown there’s a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression? Lots of people experience improvement in the symptoms of depression if they start taking vitamin D. Make sure you take it with vitamin K2 because they work much better together – especially when it comes to bone health. Vitamin D3 ensures that calcium is absorbed easily and K2 activates the protein, osteocalcin, which absorbs calcium into your bones.
Zinc – Zinc deficiency can lead to depression, increased anxiety and irritability, so make sure your levels are high and you’ll feel so much more balanced.
Zinc is also a key mineral to support healthy immune function, energy production and mood. You need copper to work in conjunction with zinc and for proper vascular heart function.
Magnesium – This is such a powerful supplement for your brain and nervous sytem. Taking it every day has been linked to a reduced risk of depressive disorders and fewer depressive symptoms. It also helps you sleep better and reduces anxiety.
Digestive enzymes: Taking digestive enzymes before you eat helps your body completely break down proteins, complex sugars, and starches, which reduces inflammation in the gut. Inflammation in your gut can affect your mood negatively, so this one might not seem obvious, but it’s so important!
Glucosamine: You make this in your body naturally and it can help to improve your mood and give you an energy boost. We make less of it as we get older, so it’s well worth topping up if you’re feeling low or sluggish.
It also helps your body build cartilage. Cartilage is produced by the body, but over time, it can wear down and result in grinding bones and other issues. This can lead to extreme pain and difficulty in moving. Research shows that supplementing your body with glucosamine, could help slow down degrading cartilage. In addition, it can reduce inflammation from active usage and helps support normal functioning of your joints.
3. Balance your brain chemistry:
To feel your best, you have to balance your brain chemicals. Did you know, we all have a totally one-of-a-kind brain chemistry? Here comes the science bit! Our brain chemistry is a magical mixture of the biochemicals: dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin.
Together, they control how you think, how you feel, and how you behave. Can you cope? And there’s more… Everybody has a dominant biochemical, which is the one your brain produces in the greatest quantity. If you’re lacking any of them, it can cause all kinds of medical problems. By balancing your brain chemicals you will feel amazing again.
To get my neurotransmitters balanced I take Krill oil, Rhodiola, Niacin, and 5htp. Since I’ve been taking these supplements regularly, I can’t stress enough how much more clearly I am able to think. I’m like a different person, I feel so calm and centred. Give them a try and let me know what you think.
4. Make time for self-development:
It’s not just your body that you need to feed, it’s your mind too! Keep providing your brain with positive things to focus on. In the car, on your walks, in the gym. Try an ebook or podcast. Here are my favourite speakers: Les Brown, Jim Rohn, Bob Proctor, Ben Greenfield, Stuart Wilde… I like listening to trained by Nike podcasts too.
Study, take courses, improve your skills. Make yourself more valuable. The more things you do to stimulate your brain, the happier you will feel. Accomplishing things gives you an instant dopamine boost and builds up your self-esteem.
Don’t know where to start? Come up with some goals for yourself and write them down. Then you’ll have something to work towards. Set goals that excite you. Break them down into weekly achievable steps and do 1-3 things a day towards your goal. Before you know it, you’ll be living your dream. Get yourself an accountability partner or a coach, so you’ve got someone to help you and cheer you on.
Stay on task and give it all of your focus. Do a great job. You’ll be guaranteed a successful day and feel so much better for it. I find writing goals down and ticking them off when they’re completed is such a pleasurable thing to do.
Having a vision and some clarity on exactly what you want from life is so positive and will instantly lift your mood and give you purpose. I love Jim Rohn’s quote: “Don’t focus on what you don’t want, you’ve got to focus on what you do want”. Having a positive outlook has such a powerful effect on mood. You’ll have a reason to get out of bed every day.
Avoid all distractions i.e your phone – such a time suck! Don’t be influenced by what anybody else is doing. Sometimes you have to put the blockers on and just focus on you and your dream. Keep working on your game plan and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll get there! And having something to focus on will make such a huge difference to your life.
Focus on other people. This can have such a positive impact on your mental health. I always think to myself every morning: ‘Who can I help today?’ Share your passions with others. I love learning new things and then sharing what I’ve learned. Giving to others is good for the soul. It stops you getting stuck in your own head and makes you feel happy and light.
5. Get some outdoors therapy:
Did you know that spending time outside is actually prescribed to patients to improve mental health? It’s sooo powerful. I like to get out and immerse myself in nature as much as possible.
Connecting with nature: the landscape, the birds singing, is so good for you emotionally. Spend time outside every day to feel your best. If you can, try and put aside a day once a week to spend a longer period of time outdoors. Take a hike, or spend an afternoon in the park. Once you get there, try to be present. Put your phone away and switch off. I find this hard, ha ha! Sometimes I have to do breathing exercises to clear my mind, or go and sit by a river and listen to the water moving.
I’d also highly recommend a trip to the sauna. Chilling out in the sauna has soo many benefits for body and mind. It helps preserve muscle mass, boosts heart health, improves skin strength, clears your pores, helps you relax, eases lower back pain, and so much more! Did you know that studies have shown taking a sauna, followed by a cold shower, 4 times a week have been proven to improve your life by 40 percent – amazeballs!
6. Exercise daily:
Physical activity reduces stress and combats depression because it helps you release cortisol, the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone, in a healthy way rather than hanging on to it, which can trigger anxiety.
Even a brisk 30-minute walk each day, releases feel-good hormones into your body like serotonin and dopamine. These wonder neurotransmitters enable brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other better. This results in better mood, increased energy levels and even improved memory.
Focus on getting fitter and stronger. Dance! It makes you so happy. Try a HIT workout, go to the gym, or on a bike ride. Anything to get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing. Yoga is great for your mental health too. It’s proven to help relax the mind, lower your heart rate and will teach you invaluable breathing techniques to relieve stress.
7. Your morning routine is EVERYTHING:
Start the day as you mean to go on. Don’t look at your phone as soon as you wake up and stress yourself out. Instead; try reading, meditating, and visualising your goals so they stay in your memory for the day ahead.
Imagine your day going really well, visualisation is such a powerful tool and it works! Make a gratitude list everything you are grateful for and really feel it in your heart. This is a really easy and effective way to put yourself in a positive frame of mind.
Jump start your day with a filtered lemon water. Have a good stretch and use a foam roller to give yourself a lymphatic massage. This will relax you and release any tension in your body. Try going for a run, jumping jacks, dance or a mini trampoline to increase blood and lymph circulation.
Have a hot and cold shower to wake yourself up and get an energy boost. Start by washing in warm water and then turn the shower on cold, do this for 30 second on, and 30 seconds off for 3 mins. Wet your head, chest, and back. Breathe into it. You can do it! It will invigorate you and cold water therapy has been proven to reduce depression. It’s also great for your immune system too.
8. Allow yourself some downtime and make sure you catch those Zzzzs:
Winding down at the end of the day is just as important as having a good morning routine. Take some time to yourself, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. A short period of relaxation can still help you feel balanced and calm. Try breathing exercise or a guided meditation to clear your mind, Bob Proctor, or Stuart Wilde are my absolute faves. While you relax, burn some incense, play calming music, and light a candle.
You can wind down more easily if you avoid blue lighting at night. Change your bulbs to red or wear blue light blockers to help you do this. Put your screens away for the day, so you stop stimulating your brain.
I’ve recently been using an infrared light which has so many benefits for body and mind. These include detoxification, pain relief, reduction of muscle tension, relaxation, improved circulation, weight loss, skin purification, boosting of the immune system, and lowering of blood pressure – how lush?!
Have a gentle stretch. Then get into a hot bath and light some candles. Pamper yourself wih a clay mask and play calming music. Aaaaand relax!
Write down your thoughts so they’re out of your head. Read or meditate. You’ll drift off into a deep restorative sleep in no time which will do wonders for your mental health. Don’t forget, you can get more tips on how to sleep like boss from my dedicated sleep blog here.
9. Surround yourself with the right people and things:
This one’s a gamechanger! You know those people who make you LOL all day long? They’re the ones you need to have around you as much as possible. Make sure you hang out people who are intelligent so that you can learn from them. And spend time with people who will add value to your life, influence, inspire and bring out the best in you. You need at least 3 good people around you.
You could also think about getting a dog or pet. Looking after a pet has LOADS of mental health benefits. Pets are the best! Having my little Jazz lights me up. She’s so cute, fun and loving. I never feel like I’m alone with her around.
I know how hard it is when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, and down in the dumps. You can’t think clearly or see a way out. But you CAN manage your thoughts and emotions. The right diet and exercise routine, taking supplements that support your brain and immune system, learning new skills, and having the right friends around you will all help you get back to your best again.
Finally – Never complain, never explain. If a negative thought comes into your mind, change it to something you’re thankful for quickly. If you want to change the person you are now, you have to change the way you think.
Thinking is habitual. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day. Lots of those come from the day before, and the day before that, and most of them are negative! If you would really like to change, you have to think differently. Think about the person you would like to become until you become her. THINK, THINK, THINK!
Writing down what you think about is a really interesting task. Try it. You’ll definitely become more aware of your thoughts. Of all the books I’ve read, written by the best people, my biggest take away was that you have to chose empowering thoughts to support your dreams.
Focus on getting healthier, stronger, and better everyday. Become a great person. Great at completing tasks. Considerate to yourself and kind and loving to others. You’ve got this!
I hope the mental health tips in this blog will make every day a good day for you too. Give them a try and let me know how you get on.