Dundalk nutrition and health coach Lisa Dunbar talks about anxiety
I’ve mentioned before that a few years ago I developed anxiety. People often ask me for advice on how I overcame it and how I continue to manage it, and I tell them honestly that there is no “one thing” that did it.
I gradually made many small changes to my lifestyle and habits, all of which added up to have a big impact on my overall mental health.
It is reported that 1 in every 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some stage in their life. But mental health is not just something that those with a diagnosed issue should consider.
We live in a fast-paced, stressful, demanding world and it is becoming increasingly important for ALL of us to look after our mental health day-to-day.
Every month I have been giving you a few tips on simple things you can do to improve your mood and overall mental health. Here are some more things you can think about doing this May…
It is estimated that we get on average about 90 minutes less sleep per night than our ancestors did 100 years ago. Now, before you say something like “they were probably just bored and had nothing better to do!”, let me remind you that sleep is as important to our bodies as breathing!
Sleep deprivation can make us feel stressed and anxious and in the long-term can have a major impact on our physical and mental health.
I know we all have busy lives and getting 7-9 hours of snooze time can seem like an impossible task sometimes. But we are also all guilty of deprioritising sleep over things like watching another episode of a box set, scrolling through our phones or catching up on some work…we’ve all done it! So, let’s make sleep a priority, ok!? Your body and mind will thank you!
Who doesn’t love hugs!? OK I know there are some people who actually really don’t like them…but what if I told you that hugging has been proven to help our bodies heal from things like stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression and even physical illness. After all, this is why there is such a thing as “hugging therapy”!
So, slow down and embrace your loved ones for a good old proper hug lasting at least 20 seconds! And aim to get at least 8 hugs like this every day! Pets count too!
Eat Your Greens
I’m always telling people that they need to eat more vegetables, mainly because they are so important to our physical health, since they are full of fibre and lots of vitamins and minerals. However, it is not just our physical health that benefits.
Dark leafy greens in particular are bursting with B vitamins which, among other things, support our brains in the production of our mood boosting happy hormones! So, if you want to help your body boost your mood, make sure you are eating your greens!
If we are at all stressed or tense (which let’s face it, most of us are a lot of the time!) our breathing becomes short and shallow, without us even noticing.
This makes our bodies feel even more stressed and anxious. Taking a few moments each day to focus on your breathing and taking long, deep breaths, is THE most powerful tool there is for helping your body and mind relax.
You don’t even have to take up the lotus position and launch into a full-blown meditation (unless you want to of course!). Simply sit comfortably and focus on your breathing for a few minutes, taking long, deep breaths. Try breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and then breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds.
To be honest, exercise is something that never came naturally to me. When gym bunny friends would say “exercise makes me feel soooo good” I was often filled with the urge to poke them in the eye!
But, the fact is, they’re right! When we exercise, our bodies do release endorphins which do in fact help to create feelings of euphoria!
Just remember, a gym membership is really not necessary, you simply need to get moving! Find some form of exercise that you can ENJOY doing, because if you don’t enjoy it you will eventually find an excuse not to do it!
I love yoga and also try to get out every day for a brisk, fresh walk.