Mind apples and movement: simple tips to pamper your mind

by sophie on October 11, 2010 · 3 comments

Post image for Mind apples and movement: simple tips to pamper your mind
Is your mental health something you take for granted or something you work actively at maintaining?  We’re used to looking after our bodies, exercising regularly and feeding them nutritious food, but how often do we do something to look after our minds?  Cancer and heart disease may feel like very real threats (which they are) but actually an astonishing one in four of us will have problems with our mental wellbeing at some time in our lives. 

And like most  aspects of health, I suspect prevention is better than cure.  Looking after your mental wellbeing needn’t be painful, introspective or time consuming, in fact most likely it involves fitting in a few more of the activities you enjoy into life. It might even include eating some tasty foods.  On that note, I thought I’d post a few mind friendly resources to celebrate World Mental Health Day (which was yesterday, y’know, but I figured an early night would do my mind more good than staying up blogging).

Do something nice for yourself today

5-a-day for your mind the mindapples project is well worth checking out, they want to “make looking after our minds as natural as brushing our teeth” through a 5 a day for the mind. 

Get moving all moving is great, activities that get you outside even better.  Walking, gardening, running – whatever you fancy. 

Start a happiness project – I can’t recommend Gretchen Ruben’s happiness project blog enough.  It’s stacked full of happiness experiments for you to pick and choose from

Sit still and breathe headspace have a beginners guide to meditation, starting with just 10 minutes a day. Sitting still has to be the cheapest, most portable stress reliever ever

Be nice to yourself Just do something nice for yourself. Oh and speak kindly to yourself too.

Keep an eye on things The Mental Health Foundation has a heads up on spotting the signs of depression while the Be Mindful campaign have a short online stress test

Food and mood are inextricably linked

Eat real food – the Whitehall II study, a long running study following over 10,000 civil servants found that those who ate more processed foods (fried foods, sweets, refined grains) were more likely to develop depression than those who ate a less processed diet high in wholegrains and fruit and vegetables. You might also want to take it a step further and go for a Mediterranean style diet – recent research suggests that this may be protective against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Give your body what it needs our minds run on flesh and blood hardware after all, so it’s no surprise that if there’s something lacking from our diets we’re more likely to run into mental health difficulties. The Mental Health Foundation and Sustain both have really good guides.  Our brains also like to be well hydrated to work at their best.

Keep a healthy weight  I work with a lot of people with very severe weight problems and it always strikes me how many of them also suffer from depression. Turns out there’s a reciprocal link here – depression increases the risk of becoming obese while obesity seems to predispose us to depression

Learn about how our minds work
If like me you just find how our minds work fascinating you might like these resources

All in the mind is an excellent BBC podcast exploring the limits and potential of the human mind

Psychology Today is a massive collection of fascinating articles with new ones added all the time.

And if you’re already worried

Go and talk to your GP – don’t be scared, they’re human and you might even have more in common than you’d think.  The good news is that there are lots of services now for mental health difficulties, especially those that are more common like mild to moderate depression, anxiety and stress.  And it’s not all drugs, treatments range from talking therapies through to bibliotherapy and gardening therapies.

Contact MIND – in the UK we have a fantastic mental health charity called MIND who
have a phone helpline, great information on their website and local
centres providing courses and other activities in your local community. 

(and the photos? Two of my personal mind apples)

dahlia-round.jpgHow do you pamper your mind?


kathryn October 12, 2010 at 07:01

Such a good reminder Sophie. You’re right, it’s easy to just think about health as being about what you eat and getting regular exercise, but looking after your brain and emotional health are so very important.
I’ve always found spending time with small, furry creatures to be remarkably calming and good for the soul. Watching a happy cat lying in the sun, or having her curl up next to me on the sofa, softly vibrating from a contented purr are wonderfully good for me.
I’m off to take a look at your resources list, most of which I don’t know. Thank you.

Elaine October 13, 2010 at 05:25

Thank you so much for this helpful collection of resources & your own insights on mental health promotion. I’ll be referring to this post many times as well as sharing it with the dietetic interns who have placements with me.
I especially like the mindapples project. Great name & concept.
How do I pamper my mind? Well, like you I cuddle a furry pet & spend time in the garden. I also love to connect with 3 dear blogging friends: Sophie, Kathryn & Lucy :-).

Vincci October 15, 2010 at 02:38

Thanks for those mental health links! I’m sure you find the same thing with your clients, but often times the key to helping someone make healthy food decisions is to help them achieve a healthy mind!

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