Mental health is a funny old thing & I don’t mean funny hilarious. There still seems to be a stigma surrounding mental health, almost as if people are ashamed to talk about it or don’t want to talk about it for fear of being judged or don’t want others to feel uncomfortable.
I haven’t openly talked about the full extent of my mental health struggles as, for one, I wasn’t ready to share with the public and two, I didn’t think people would be interested and that I should just stick with creating and sharing recipes.
However, for me health isn’t just about the food we eat (although that plays a part of it) it’s about exercise, relationships, career and of course mental health is included too.
I have battled depression and anxiety for over a decade now and whilst I won’t be sharing my story in this post (I will do a post on it soon) I wanted to share some of the ways I have found that have helped me and continue to help me.
First up, movement. I have discovered that movement of some sort is key even on days when all I want to do is pull the duvet over my head. Whether it be taking the dog out for a walk in the countryside, getting on my mat to do yoga or some HIIT exercise, depending on how I feel each day will depend on what exercise I do – obviously the dog walk is non-negotiable! As I write this post I am visiting my sister in Florida and whilst I have been here I have started doing the Couch to 5K app challenge.
Now, I’ve tried running/jogging in the past and it has never been for me but I recently read Jog on by Bella Mackie which she writes about how running helped her mental health and I thought I’d give this running lark another try. However, I’ve decided on using an app so I don’t injure myself or push myself too hard too soon, so far I am enjoying it and will be doing updates on my instagram feed (@nourishbyrebecca) if you’d like to follow along.
Limiting my caffeine intake is a fairly new one for me but I’ve started to see a link between the amount of caffeine I’m consuming and my anxiety levels. Some days when I’m really anxious I will not have any caffeine except for my morning cup of tea. This is helping me immensely as the caffeine jitters just feed into my anxious feelings and it all snowballs from there so being aware of my anxiety levels is key.
Food. As you probably know I eat what some would call a healthy diet. It’s what works for me and my body including my mental health. Getting whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes) into my meals/snacks make me feel good. When I consume too much refined-sugar, gums, emulsifiers etc they can have a negative impact on my digestion which makes me feel a bit rubbish overall.
Cutting out alcohol. I’ve not had an alcoholic drink for over a year now and it has had such a positive effect on my health overall and my anxiety and panic attacks have definitely subsided since cutting out alcohol.
Medication. I still take medication from time to time when I’m having a particularly bad anxious period. There’s no shame in taking medication if it works for you but it may take a few tries of different medications to find the right one that suits you, talk to your doctor about your needs.
As I’ve been decreasing my dosage for my medication I have been aware that I need to be proactive in helping myself and making the above changes have been a great help to me and I’m sure there’ll be more changes along the way.
Be Kind To Yourself
Most of all, be kind to yourself. I know it’s bloody difficult on days when you don’t want to wake up and you have to wade through the sludgy, heavy feeling of depression. Or the days when you know you have to leave your house and just the thought of it sets off a panic attack and you berate yourself for being ‘silly’ as everyone else can leave the house no problem (you’re not silly and you’re not the only one who feels this way). But through it all, please be kind to yourself and reach out and talk to someone – a loved one, a helpline, a Dr or a therapist.
I know this post is not my usual recipe post but I wanted to share more of ‘me’ the person behind the brand and for you to get to know me. Whilst it is very daunting to put this post out there, I hope it can be of some use to someone in a similar situation.
Health & happiness