Why a sucky diet, no-exercise routine and being sleep deprived damage you more than you've been led to believe…
We all know that eating right and exercising regularly are the only ways to effectively maintain a good level of physical health.
Even if, we ignore this fact and continue to chase after the latest fad or quick fix which fixes nothing…!
We know in our heart of hearts that we need to change our diet and exercise.
You may know that sleep also has a profound effect on our physical appearance & even if you weren’t sure you probably twigged that it is likely to be the case because right now your sleep is rubbish you shy away from looking in the mirror or attempting to pull up your favourite pair of jeans.
But, chances are you are not (yet) 100% convinced that these very same things are also right at the core of how your feeling.
But, I’ve been ‘healthy’ before and still felt like curling up into a little ball and hibernating
I mean, let’s be honest sometimes we eat really healthily, get a great nights sleep and are exercising regularly and still feel like the world is imploding.
As I’m all for being truthful and not sugar coating anything (well, unless it’s a banana sandwich mmm… yum…).
There is no quick fix when it comes to living a mentally healthy life.
You cannot just do one thing and the next day you wake up and ‘poof’ all your troubles, pain and heartache has magically disappeared.
That is utter codswallop.
But, you can do small things every day and slowly you’ll build up your mental resilience, then you can take the time you need to uncover and work through anything from your past (or present) which is worrying you and then you can take steps to move forward into a bigger brighter future.
Only, doing all three will ever make a difference.
Only, doing all three will radically change your life forever.
This is exactly why we always do all 3 and in that order during our intensive holistic therapy programme & it works 100% of the time.
Having your ‘3 fundamentals’; diet, sleep and exercise in alignment enable you to affect your physiology so that you can be mentally resilient and work on your psychology.
Working on your physiology first is a very sneaky (but also the easiest way) to positively affect the way you’re thinking, feeling and acting.
I’m going to walk you through (very briefly) how these affect you and why if you only do one thing to improve your mental health your 3 fundamentals are it.
Diet: ‘what you eat reflects how you feel’
We’ve all hear the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ and while this is still very true, it should definitely be altered slightly to ‘what you eat reflects how you feel’ (or something slightly more eloquent…).
Research has shown, time and time again that the food we consume affects the way in which our bodies work. Some foods are able to trigger the production of serotonin (your happy hormone) and some foods can help you produce endorphins (pain-relieving hormones).
Diet has become so important that even the national newspapers are pushing for the NHS to start taking it seriously (e.g., the Independent).
So if you’re feeling mentally rubbish, or having lots of aches and pains then the first thing to do – before you do ANYTHING else, is to have a look at what you’re eating.
If your diet is full of cakes, processed foods and junk then it really isn’t surprising you’re feeling that way.
Yes, I love cake – but I also know if I feel rubbish and all I’ve had is cake then it’s my own fault!
Diet, is, without doubt, one of the easiest and quickest ways to positively affect your moods.
To get you started here are 3 ‘mood foods’ which you definitely want to work into your diet:
OK, yes, the sugar & the bread are not so great – but no one (especially me) has ever said you need to do everything perfectly 100% of the time.
Life is only worth living if you have fun while you’re doing it!
Exercise: it really is that important
I know you hate it too…
Actually, I don’t hate ‘exercise’ but just that word makes me go ‘eugh’.
In all honesty, I really enjoy ‘doing’ exercise in all manner of forms but the thought of it…
But, while yes, many of us will spend countless hours ‘pounding the treadmill’ to get into shape for the summer, how many would do the same to feel good inside?
& I’m not talking about feeling good because we look good in the mirror (that my friend is an added bonus), I mean feeling good from all the hormones we’re creating whilst doing the exercise.
Yup, I’m being super serious with you.
When you go for a walk, a run or even sit on your sofa wiggling your arms through the adverts you fire up your body to create endorphins.
These amazing hormones not only act as a pain relief (stronger than morphine might I add…) they also act as a sedative.
Exercising helps you feel physically better if you were achy and helps you feel more relaxed and calm (& not just because you’re absolutely knackered after walking up that hill!).
Also, another key (and often forgotten) thing about exercise – it enables your body to use the fantastic food you’ve been consuming!
As a general rule, it does not matter what exercise you’re doing as long as you’re doing something regularly.
It’s your life, it’s your mentally healthy journey and it is always your choice.
However, I strongly advise you do something you find fun and enjoyable because you will need to keep it up.
Don’t go nuts and commit to hitting the gym 7 times a week and burn yourself out – this will make you feel a lot, lot worse.
If you’re struggling with anxiety; Thai Chi & Yoga are great because they help you to slow down and control your breathing and this will, in turn, reduce the number of panic attacks you have (or the severity of them when they hit).
YouTube is amazing for finding workouts & even Sky has got involved with their ‘fit in 5’ which is more of a high intensity work out.
Again, it really doesn’t matter what you do – just do something.
Sleep: everyone’s favourite pastime :D
Sleep, we all want it & we’re all struggling to get enough of it.
Or most often, we’re all struggling to get enough good quality sleep - & this is completely different.
We need to sleep so that our brains can catalogue everything from that day and carry out vital repairs on our physiology.
There’s still quite a lot we don’t know about sleep, but one thing all scientists agree on – we have got to have it to be physically and mentally healthy.
I know, it’s the age old question - how on Earth do I get good quality sleep?
Simple – get yourself a routine going.
Our bodies and brains love a routine.
It likes to know we get up at the same time of day, eat at the same time of day and head off for some zzzz’s at the same time of day.
If we have a routine, your body will go on autopilot and start producing the hormones it needs before it even needs them!
For sleep, we need melatonin this is one of those hormones which can be considered a slippery customer.
It can be so elusive right when we need it the most.
These 3 things (plus your routine – hint, hint) will help you
A word of caution
While I’ve been truthful with the above information there is something I’ve not said yet.
It also happens to be the one thing none of those nutritionists, keep-fit persons or random blog posts you’ve read has revealed to you yet either…
THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
You will have to consistently eat healthily, exercise regularly and get some good quality sleep under your belt for at least 4 weeks before you really start to notice any changes.
You should, however, in that time see glimmers and flickers of more positive feelings and this will hopefully help keep you on track.
DON’T GO NUTS
Even if you are 100% committed to making massive changes in your life at the time of reading this post doing everything in one go is a recipe for disaster.
Look at altering one of these a week for the next three weeks, slowly building it up.
Even when people are coming through our intensive holistic therapy programme we only change one of these a week – it genuinely is too much, too soon if you go all hands to the pump.
Good luck and don’t forget to come back again next week where we’ll be exploring the 3 best ways to rapidly shift your moods.
Have an amazing week x Katie x
p.s., if you haven’t already checked out the podcast ‘How To Change Your Life: One Step At A Time’ use the buttons below to head over to your preferred platform and take a little listen – it’s been going down a storm.