The body and the mind are intrinsically linked and making sure both are in top working order can be a difficult balance to manage. There is a link between getting the right balance and keeping your mind and body functioning to the best of its ability. The food you eat is what fuels you for the day, keeping your body moving and keeping your brain functioning at its optimum level. There are other factors to consider when keeping your mind as healthy as your body. Making sure we’re getting enough rest, getting out in the fresh air and even doing creative activities can help keep your mind working harmoniously with your body.
Getting a healthy, balanced diet is imperative to keeping your body healthy. This can mean something different to everyone but in general terms, a balanced diet is getting enough of the five food groups every day. The five food groups are fruit & veggies, carbs, dairy & dairy alternatives, proteins and fats. If we imagine these in a triangle, the bottom layer would be fruit and veg, carbs next and so on until you reach the tiny amount of fats at the top. These should be unsaturated kinds such as avocados or oils used for cooking as they are the kind that your body can use to function rather than saturated fats which give no nutritional value to your body.
There are certain foods you can eat that help aid brain function commonly referred to as brain foods. The fatty acid Omega-3 is renowned for fighting fatigue – one study even showed that it helped lessen the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. There is also evidence of it keeping your mind sharp by fighting off Alzheimers. Omega-3 is found in most fish but there are lots of veggie and vegan alternatives too. Omega-3 is found in:
Other foods that can help your brain to function better are:
Foods can also act as a mood booster – and chocolate is on the list! Let’s take a look through all the best mood boosting foods:
We know that a part of living healthily is to make sure we get enough exercise but exercise and mental health are also inherently linked. Just doing a bit of light exercise such as a brisk walk can release endorphins and boost your mood. So not only is exercise great for keeping up our physical health, but it links to keeping our mental health in balance as well. Exercise can help release any feelings of tension or anger that we are holding in our bodies – even when we don’t feel like they’re having much of an effect. And of course, exercise is going to improve your mood and wellbeing more if it’s something you enjoy doing so try and find a form that works for you.
Exercise is also great for boosting concentration as physical activity gives the brain a boost of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin – all of which help the brain to focus better. The same endorphins that improve your mood, also help sharpen your senses that helps to complete a task. So why not try having a five minute walk the next time you feel like procrastinating?
Mindfulness is a word that gets thrown about a lot – but what does it actually mean? Mindfulness is all about focusing your attention on the present moment and forgetting all those thoughts we have whizzing round our heads at any given moment. By focussing on the present, all our anxieties and fears about the past and present melt away and we reach a sense of stillness and tranquility.
In terms of mindfulness activities, there isn’t an all size fits all. You’ve got to find something for yourself that you can feel fully present doing. We don’t have the solution for everyone but here we have a few options for you to try out for yourself.
Cooking is our first one as it brings together the ideas of physical health and mental health. Making yourself a delicious and hearty meal can make you feel good about taking good care of your body. The sensory elements of the kitchen can help ground you and detach from the mental into the physical. For a lot of people, food holds an emotional connection and can bring back memories of family and friends. Allowing yourself to immerse in these emotions can be therapeutic and can boost your mood.
Creative activities can be therapeutic as when we get into the flow of what we’re doing, we forget whatever stresses and strains are holding us back in day to day life. If you love to draw (even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic) this can be a great way to connect with your creative side as a form of art therapy. The idea behind art therapy is that you can draw or paint things that represent issues you might have not been able to put into words or have even recognised yet. Another mindfulness activity that can help you track your moods and feelings is journaling. Writing down when you’re feeling low or stressed can help you track your moods and figure out what your triggers are. And once you’ve found your triggers, you can develop ways to avoid them.
One of the most popular mindfulness activities is meditation but there isn’t just one way to meditate. There are a whole list of different types of meditation but they all have the same end goal and that is to achieve a sense of awareness and peace in your own mind and body. You might have to try a few different options before you find the meditation style for you but it’s well worth persevering. These types are:
Balancing your physical health and mental health can be tough but now you’ve got all the knowledge, putting it into practice will feel a lot easier. Making sure you’re eating the right foods to keep your brain working at its highest level and also making sure you take time to relax and be in the present. If you’re looking for more mindfulness why not check out our blog post about Work-Life Balance or if you’re after more nutrition tips, take a look at our Making Nutrition Simple blog!