During these crazy Covid times, all of our mental health has suffered. For some people existing tendencies towards depression or anxiety have been made worse by worrying about jobs or health, for some it’s arrived out of nowhere. Sometimes a perfect storm brings a change in our mood and outlook. This could be Covid plus menopause plus more alcohol or a variety of other combinations.
Chances are if you go to your GP for help because you just don’t feel right, they’ll refer you to a psychologist. More and more psychologists now are taking into account the whole health of your body, but also many do not address it, or don’t address your overall health in as much depth as they could. Luckily there are many things you can do by yourself, or with the help of a natural practitioner.
The`1234567890- health of your mind is governed by the health of your body. Makes sense right? We are one body after all and the health of one organ and system influences others. Your mind is no different. Typical things that often affect mental health are:
-Diet- a healthy gut equals a healthy mind. Not only is your colon a reflex organ (like the soles of your feet), but the gut-brain axis is the biochemical signalling system that takes places between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. Essentially if your tum isn’t happy then neither will you be. Everyone’s diet can be improved, without exception.
-Poop- staying in the gut region, sub optimal bathroom habits (ideal pooping is one poop per meal per day, every day) means that the more poop that stays in your colon, the more toxins are absorbed by your body. Imagine how unhappy you’d be if the rubbish in your kitchen wasn’t thrown out and was left to fester? Yup that’s your tum!
Alcohol is a mood depressant, it changes our gut microbiome (see above), reduces our nutrient levels, changes our hormone levels, amongst other things. For many people ‘hangxiety’ is real and for many their mood is lowered after drinking.
Sunshine- getting outside, especially into nature can be a real mood lifter. I swear that you can never come back from a walk or a run in a bad mood. Whether it’s the fresh air, being close to nature or the sunshine (Vitamin D is also known as the happy hormone) we all need to spend a bit more time outside. Here in Hong Kong, we are lucky to have the climate on our side to be able to do this.
Exercise lifts your mood, releases endorphins, but most of all you know that you are doing something good for yourself (especially if exercise is not part of your everyday life). Frequently it means you are doing ‘something for yourself’ away from the pressures of family.
Change Your Life- sometimes it’s the circumstances of your life that make people unhappy, if that’s the case I urge clients to change their life or change their mindset to whatever is making them unhappy. Accepting crappy situations (as transient) rather than stressing about them even more, can make all the difference.
Sleep- Lack of sleep (in quality and quantity) makes us all grouchy, but chronic sleep deprivation affects your mood and mental health negatively. Sleep can all be affected by the above factors.
Stress- stress changes us from a biochemical perspective, so it only makes sense that it will affect our mental health. I urge clients to reduce their stress as much as they possibly can.
If you or someone you know has a diagnosed mental health condition, then addressing the above factors will help. Sometimes, pharmaceutical drugs are required, however in many cases these can be avoided (along with their side effects) and in addition to lifestyle changes homeopathic or herbal remedies can be recommended instead.
Ally van de Pol is a Healing Diets Coach and a Naturopath in training