Blog Archives

Healthy Diet: Eating with Mental Health in Mind

You’ve probably heard the expression, “you are what you eat,” but what exactly does that mean? Put simply, food is fuel, and the kinds of foods and drinks you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system and impact how well your mind and body are able to function.

Drinks

Avoid: Sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine. Sugary drinks have empty calories and damage tooth enamel. Caffeine dehydrates you. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes, in addition to physical effects like thirst, decreased or dark urine, dry skin, headache, dizziness and/or constipation.

Try to: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 liters) to prevent dehydration. If you feel like you need some caffeine, limit it to one cup of coffee, or try tea. Tea has lower amounts of caffeine than coffee and has lots of antioxidants-chemicals found in plants that protect body tissues and prevent cell damage.

Breakfast

Avoid: Skipping breakfast. Breakfast is needed to fuel your body (including your brain) after going without food during sleep and also jump starts your metabolism for the day. Skipping meals leads to fatigue and feelings of “brain fog.”

Try to: Incorporate a healthy breakfast into your routine. If you’re tight on time in the mornings, grab a whole grain granola bar, yogurt and a piece of fruit to get you off to a good start.

Lunch and Dinner

Avoid: High-fat dairy, and fried, refined and sugary foods, which have little nutritional value. In addition to contributing to weight gain, and conditions like diabetes, research shows that a diet that consists primarily of these kinds of foods significantly increases risk of depression.

Try to: Eat a diet that relies on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fats (like olive oil). People who follow this kind of diet are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than people who eat lots of meat and dairy products.

Tips for the Grocery Store

  • Try to concentrate your shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods are, rather than in the center aisles where foods like chips, cookies and candy can be tempting.
  • If fresh veggies tend to expire before you get a chance to eat them, buy frozen ones instead. Stores carry an assortment of steam-in-bag vegetables that keep well in the freezer and cook in the microwave in a matter of minutes.
  • Choose whole grain pastas, breads, cereals, granola bars and snacks instead of those made with white flour. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, which promotes digestive health, and also provide folate (or folic acid).

Mind and Body Boosting Nutrients

Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9)

Increased intake of folate is associated with a lower risk of depression.

Folate is especially important for pregnant women, but everyone needs folic acid for production of cells. It is especially important for healthy hair, skin, nails, eyes, liver and red blood cell production.

Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains have high amounts of folate, or folic acid.

Vitamin D

Rates of depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin D.  Lack of Vitamin D is thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression that commonly starts in the fall, lasts through winter and subsides in the sunnier spring and summer months.

Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium for strong teeth and bones, and the health of muscles and the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with heart disease and increased risk of heart attacks.

Most foods do not naturally have Vitamin D, but many are “Vitamin D fortified.” Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most naturally occurring Vitamin D. Other foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals have Vitamin D added.

Our bodies also produce Vitamin D as a result of being in the sun. Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure twice a week generally produces enough Vitamin D, with lighter-skinned people requiring less time than those with darker skin. Time in the sun beyond the suggested amounts above requires use of sunscreen to prevent skin damage and reduce risk of skin cancer. Vitamin D supplements may be used in fall and winter months.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some studies suggest that omega-3s may be helpful in the treatment of depression and seem to have a mood-stabilizing effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids may also help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and help young people with ADHD.

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be important in reducing inflammation, the primary cause of conditions like arthritis and asthma, and play a role in heart health by reducing triglycerides (blood fats). They may also reduce risk for certain kinds of cancer.

Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) are the most highly recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the American Heart Association suggests eating these types of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flax (or flax seed oil), olive oil, fresh basil and dark green leafy vegetables. Link to article. 

Advertisements

Overwhelmed by Stress and Anxiety? How to Deal with It

Posted on by

Anxiety can feel as though an incredibly loud and boisterous parade is charging right through your very being: blasting bands, flashy floats, animals, and announcers ad nauseam. This chaos within can cause headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, aches and pains, and other noxious anxiety symptoms. Further, our thoughts become anxious and race with worry and obsessions. Often, panic sets in. As if this weren’t bad enough, we have to live in the midst of this parade. We have to deal with parade garbage (think about it—debris, litter, road apples) while simultaneously dealing with everything else around us. With pandemonium on the inside, how do we deal with all of the stuff on the outside?

Anxiety and Stress Are Connected

To be sure, life can be downright crushing. It’s often full of stress. When you have to destroy a rainforest in order to write your to-do list, you know you’re dealing with too much. Or maybe the number of items is small but they’re daunting in nature. The actual number of tasks is relatively inconsequential; what matters is how they impact your well-being. As the more than forty million people living with anxiety disorders can likely attest, overwhelming stress is often closely connected with overwhelming anxiety.

Life can be overwhelming, and this can create anxiety. Here, a few simple ways to reduce anxiety and stress.When it comes to stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to sort out cause and effect. Is your overwhelming stress causing your anxiety? Or perhaps is your overwhelming anxiety causing your life to feel intensely stressful?

Working with a therapist to sort things out can be very beneficial. However, you don’t have to know with certainty whether you’re anxious because of stress or whether stress is worse because you’re anxious. Personally, when I’m overwhelmed and the anxiety-and-stress parade is marching around painfully inside of me and interfering with my outer world, I really don’t care which is causing the other. I just know that anxiety and stress are there and connected; I’m overwhelmed and I want the parade to stop.

Ways to Reduce that Overwhelmed Feeling

Because anxiety and stress are often Co-Grand Marshals in this obnoxious internal parade, they can be reduced together. Each of the following techniques has been proven to reduce both stress and anxiety:

Avoid All-or-Nothing Thinking

Anxiety can loom so large that we begin to think in extremes: You might think, “I’ll never get this done,” “I can’t do anything right,” “If I don’t do this perfectly, I’m a failure,” “I’m a horrible partner/parent/employee/boss/person,” “I made a mistake and now people hate me,” and on and on. Of course we feel high anxiety about the outcomes of these things we’re telling ourselves.

Recognizing how we’re thinking is a helpful step in reducing anxiety. Over the next few days, simply notice your thoughts. What are you telling yourself? Once you become aware of all-or-nothing thinking, you can change how you think and what you say to yourself. “I missed a deadline” changes from “I’m horrible and I’m going to be fired,” to “I made a mistake, but I do many good things, too. Overall, I’m valuable and am not likely to lose my job over this single incident.”

Break (Or, Rather, Don’t)

When we’re anxious and stressed, it’s easy to look at all of the tasks that lie ahead of us and become overwhelmed. At times, we’re stopped in our tracks and completely shut down. We have reached our breaking point. At this point, anxiety is very high, and our ability to cope seems very low. The good news is that we have the power to prevent ourselves from breaking.

The trick? Break! Take breaks, and break up tasks into bits and pieces.

To avoid hypocrisy, I will admit upfront that I find it extremely difficult to take breaks. After all, when life is overwhelming with all of its demands and anxiety is flaring as a result, it just doesn’t seem logical or even possible to walk away from stress for a while. However, it is vital. Even a short break can help your mind refresh and reset, and often when you return to your task you do so with a clearer head. Stand and stretch, get some fresh air if possible, massage your temples, breathe deeply. Snacking on something nutritious and energy-sustaining can give your brain and body a needed boost. For me, it seems that I don’t have time for a break, but in reality, when my anxiety decreases, I feel less overwhelmed, and I’m actually more productive when I take short breaks here and there throughout the day.

Further, anxiety often surges when tasks loom large in front of us. Life can be incredibly overwhelming when everything seems like one big mess, but it’s easier to manage when we break things into manageable bits. Take my desk. It often looks like an office products store exploded on top of it. When I stare at it, I’m overwhelmed and I’m hit by a wave of anxiety that makes me feel like I’m drowning. When I stare at the entire mess, I feel daunted and can hardly begin to fix it. I’ve learned to break the task into bits. I’ll clear one area then take a break. I might choose to put the rest aside and move onto something else, or I might come back and tackle another section. Either way, I’ve taken control, I can do something about the mess, and I feel my stress and anxiety ease.

To-Do List? How about a To-Done List!

Of course listing the tasks that lie ahead of you is a way of organizing yourself, feeling in charge, and reducing stress and anxiety. Yet it can be overwhelming to look at a huge list that never seems to shrink even when we break it into bits. When we only focus on what we have to do rather than taking stock of all that we have already done, we feel stressed, and anxiety often skyrockets. To keep this in check, consider creating a list of things you’ve already accomplished, a to-done list, if you will. It’s very satisfying at the end of a long and stressful day to think about all that you’ve done and to write it down. Then, when your anxiety tells you that you’re not in control, you can see for yourself that you are indeed in control and are accomplishing things. link to article

Whether you’re overwhelmed by anxiety or your anxiety is making you feel overwhelmed, it’s stressful. The good news is that it truly is possible to take steps each and every day to rid yourself of anxiety.

What works for you when you’re overwhelmed by anxiety?

8 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

by: Brigitt Hauck Feb 03, 2015

When your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer, these small lifestyle changes may help boost your spirits

1. Make your environment brighter.When your body is craving more daylight,sitting next to an artificial light—also called a light box—for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Opening blinds and curtains, trimming back tree branches, and sitting closer to windows can also help provide an extra dose of sunshine.

2. Eat smarter. Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

3. Simulate dawn. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.

4. Exercise. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only. Try these mood boosting workouts.

5. Turn on the tunes. In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term.

6. Plan a vacation. Longing for sunnier days at the beach?Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.

7. Help others. Ladling out soup at the local shelter or volunteeringyour time can improve mental health and life satisfaction.

8. Get outside. Talking yourself into taking a walk when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but the benefits are big: Spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

Alone on Valentines Day

Are you going to be alone on Valentine’s Day? There are many reasons why you may find yourself alone; if you suffer with social anxiety disorder (SAD) it may be due to fear about approaching potential romantic partners. Whatever your reason for being alone, below are some tips to help you cope.

Forego Valentine’s Day

There is no reason why you need to acknowledge or celebrate Valentine’s Day. Don’t let advertising, store displays, or stories of others make you feel bad. February 14th is just another day of the year, and there is no reason why you can’t treat it that way.

Treat Yourself

Instead of ignoring Valentine’s Day, decide to make it a day for yourself. Take the day off work, sleep late, eat your favorite foods, and engage in hobbies that you enjoy.

Send Yourself Flowers

If you are feeling really down about being alone on Valentine’s Day, why not send yourself flowers or chocolates to your place of work? Your coworkers will wonder about your secret admirer, and you will receive a gift chosen by the person who knows you best.

Avoid Love Triggers

If you are upset about being alone on Valentine’s Day, avoid watching romantic movies and listening to love songs. People with SAD are prone to depression, and these types of activities are sure to bring on the love blues.

Make Other Plans

Plan a day revolving around a recreational activity or a theatrical/musical event unrelated to Valentine’s Day. Invite a friend or family member. Having plans to do something concrete will help to take your mind off the fact that you are single.

Night Out with Single Friends

If you have single friends, plan a night out as a group. Being in the company of others in the same situation will help to ease your loneliness. Just be sure to keep the night upbeat.

Reach Out to Someone

Take the opportunity to reach out to someone that you haven’t spoken to in a while. That person might be a romantic interest, a friend, or a family member. You never know who might also be feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day.

Brighten Someone Else’s Day

Do you know someone who has recently lost a signficant other? Perhaps your neighbor is recently widowed. A small gift on Valentine’s Day would mean a lot to her and would make you feel good as well.

Go About Your Business

One of the best ways to deal with being alone on Valentine’s Day is to go about your daily routine. Work, go to the gym, catch up on emails; anything that will make it seem like just another day of the year.

Play Cupid

How would you feel if you received a gift from a secret admirer? Why not anonymously send a gift to someone in the same position as you? This doesn’t need to be someone in whom you have romantic interest; simply someone whom you want to see smile.

Valentine’s Day can be wonderful if you are in a relationship, but difficult if you find yourself alone. If social anxiety is preventing you from dating or maintaining romantic relationships, and you haven’t been diagnosed with SAD, if may be time to talk to your doctor. link to article

Manage your triggers…cut your symptoms

Manage your triggers…cut your symptoms

By Julie Fast

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 31, I was completely unaware of the triggers that caused my mood swings. I blindly walked into situations and never thought, “Gee! This might make me sick!”

It’s amazing to me that no one at the time taught me about triggers and how they could significantly increase bipolar disorder symptoms. Certainly if they had, I would have found my stability much sooner. Other than medications, trigger recognition + avoidance is now my number one management tool. What is a trigger? I’d define it as anything outside of the illness that causes mood swings. In my experience, triggers are not the result of bipolar disorder mood swings—they are the cause.

When I get manic, I may stay up all night drinking and singing karaoke—my behavior is therefore a direct result of the illness. I used to get caught up in this—for days, I’d think, “Oh no! I’m manic!” My option here was to prevent the mania that caused the behavior.

A trigger is different. Here’s an example of how an outside trigger can cause significant mood swings. A few years ago, I began a friendship with a brilliant woman who shared my career of writing books. We began a joint project, but she became aggressive and very dismissive of my work. I’d never been around a verbally abusive person, so I talked to her about it and she apologized. Then she did it in public; she actually slammed her fist on the table she was so angry. I left and began crying in my car; within an hour I went into a downswing and had suicidal thoughts. I finally left the relationship for good. By removing myself from the situation, the mood swings completely went away. Her loss!

It took me way too long to recognize my two main triggers: dating and too much work. It’s like being allergic to sunlight and water as far as I’m concerned— what’s life if you can’t find a read more

Tears Of A Loved One

crazy on the inside

borderletters

living with borderline (BPD)

timtara

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Welcome to Karli's LaLaLand!

Writing through my writer's block :)

%d bloggers like this: