There is something inherently anxiety provoking in the concept of quarantine. The idea that the world and every person and thing in it is moving too quickly, and so we all just need to stop, retreat into our homes, into safety, and create a plan for bringing things back into order. Except, in a pandemic situation, there is no back to order, because so many systems have been altered, so many people and places affected, that things may never look the same again. That feeling of overwhelming uncertainty exceeds anxiety, and moves it into a space of panic and fear. If a person is not anchored in trust of themselves, their government or something greater, this kind of situation can significantly impact their mental, emotional and physical health.
This month we want to honor and appreciate the importance of mental health, and the need to support those who are struggling to regain it. We understand that without mental health, a person cannot feel well and do well, and so it is a huge priority to support our community, now more than ever, in maintaining emotional, psychological, and social well-being. So, here are our some ways that you may help support yourself and others this month:
Ensure that your diet supports mental health.
First and foremost- we need to talk about food! Mental health depends on:
- having adequate hydration for nerve function,
- having enough nutrition to support building healthy tissues,
- how well we can digest and assimilate nutrients,
- and avoiding food products and toxins that may create inflammation or toxicity in the body.
Obviously the WildFit diet covers your bases, however ensuring you eat enough of certain nutrients may specifically improve mental health. Healthy fats found in walnuts, avocados, chia, hemp and flax seeds, as well as cold water oily fish can support brain function and reduce inflammation.
Leafy green vegetables and other produce provide your body with a wealth of antioxidants to improve brain function, minerals for nerve function, and loads of fiber to support a healthy gut, which is crucial to mental health.
Shellfish, sea vegetables, and eggs provide vitamin D and other important minerals necessary for proper brain function. The addition of other high quality proteins are necessary to build the full profile of amino acids necessary for building hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters. These foods all also provide B vitamins, important for building happy hormones.
Conversely, too much refined sugar, chemical additives, and inflammatory, allergenic foods like dairy and grains will hinder your body from functioning optimally, and may contribute to mental health issues.
We have had many clients move through our WildFit 90 Day program who have felt significant progress in their mindset, and described feeling greater clarity, calm and better mood than they have in years after completing the program.
Stick to a routine that prioritizes your health.
A routine will help keep you centered and focused, however it is up to you to decide what that focus will be. We propose that your health and vitality take the lead, as these are the easiest tasks and rituals to fall aside in these kinds of scenarios. Decide on whether your goal is to improve or maintain your health. Recognize the strengths and weaknesses you bring to the situation, and plan accordingly.
For example, as a mother and business owner, it is easy for my days to get away from me if I don’t prioritize myself early in the day. I go to bed early so that I can have a quiet couple of hours to myself in the morning to meditate and complete my yoga asanas or workout before anything else. I also bring my daughter into food preparation tasks to combine time spent together and learning activities also provide us with healthy meal options. Knowing my tendency to reach for quick sugar based snacks when under pressure, I keep them out of my house and replace them with healthier alternatives. Don’t try to learn a whole new plan based on someone else’s reality or your ideal scenario; create a plan which honors your own lifestyle and habits. This will give you a greater opportunity for success.
Develop a self care tool kit that is easy to access throughout the day.
Try to ensure it involves a component for each of the seven senses (touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, movement and pressure) to create a full body cathartic experience. In having this toolkit around you at this time, you will tend to feel soothed, calm and happy rather than anxious, overwhelmed, or depressed. By integrating these elements into existing rituals and your surroundings, it becomes passive instead of just one more thing you need to do!
Some examples of what works for me are a warm cup of tea and a soft, heavy blanket. Vacation and nature photos around my living space and a diffuser with uplifting or calming scents, and potted plants to nurture. I play comforting music from happy memories in my younger years, as well as mantra chants. I have a journal, adult colouring book, and desktop zen garden close by so that I can stay physically occupied when my mind is occupied. I also make a point to sit in a rocking chair,my hammock, or on an exercise ball often when I am reading or working. All of these things are now helpful habits to decrease emotional or compulsive eating and sleeplessness.
Cultivate greater Self Awareness and Self Compassion.
Most of us are either: Grouped together with others and no privacy, or completely alone (emotionally or physically) with little contact. Neither are good for our mental wellness. And so, we have to actively honor our needs, and then ask for those needs to be met (as much as is possible) by ourselves and those around us.
If you are sharing your space, find your own private retreat space in your home, and have other family members or roommates do the same. Create a space where you can be alone, when you need a breath, to shift your mood, or just be alone and ask others to respect that. If you are alone, how can you actively create a support system of daily interactions, or foster a pet for physical contact.
Make safety and attachment a focus, not just for children, but everyone in your household. We are living in a time with unprecedented demand on us to balance work, school, a clean home, nourishing ourselves and accommodating others; all with little or no support from the outside world. Forcing ourselves to meet expectations and continue to rush, grow and expand at this time may more easily lead to burnout or depression. Strengthen your abilities to create healthy boundaries, communication and connection with yourself and others before all else.
In fact, go one step further to lower your expectations and practice radical self acceptance. Rather than feeling guilt about not getting more done or pressure to over perform in uncertain times, accept yourself and your current reality exactly as it is. If we are constantly reacting to our lives and the expectations that are placed on us (or that we perceive are placed on us) we will be living in a state of fear, panic and thus create chronic stress which reduces our immunity. By fully and completely accepting yourself and what you need right now, you enable yourself to do the best you can with what you have. You also allow that to be dynamic, and change from day to day.
Take action to shift out of being a victim and into control and empowerment.
The popular tendency is to focus one’s energy outward and think about all of the big, scary things that one person cannot control. We may then consequently discuss it, worry about it, form opinions of it, then worry some more. This creates more stress for a person than anything else, because from this disempowered, helpless position the fear can only fester and grow.
Rather, find something you can control, then focus on moving forward in changing and altering it as you like. This may be a new big project that you want to throw yourself into, organizing some part of your home, or solidifying a new habit or hobby. It may simply be finding a creative way to express your emotions, find joy and bring lightness to each day. By anchoring ourselves in our power and directing our energy into something physical, we removed the sense of chaos from our lives.
We hope that you have found these tips to support your mental health were helpful!