As it is World Mental Health Day I thought I’d share my top tips for keeping a happy mind…
You may read this and wonder why this is not like the traditional list of things to consider for happiness. There is a huge body of evidence that mental health strength stems from gut health. 90% of your serotonin (your hormone responsible for making you feel happy) is produced in the gut, so looking after it is key for a happy mind. Although I list gut health as a separate item, all of the items I’ve listed modify your gut bacteria (even just taking a walk).
Follow these steps to get yourself a strong gut microbiome and maximise your chances to be happy. Look after your body and your mind will thank you for it.
My Top 10 Tips for a Happy Mind
1. Get outside every single day, even if it’s raining. If possible surround yourself by nature and trees: this can have a profound calming affect on people.
2. Exercise every day. Do at least 20 minutes of anything you like from fast walking to team sports to weight training. You just need to produce the endorphins that make you feel good after exercise.
3. If you are struggling with life, say ‘no’ when people ask you to do more than you can comfortably achieve. Make a list of what is on your plate and look at ways that you can reduce your load. Don’t be afraid to ask other people for help.
4. Talk to friends or family about how you are feeling. Thoughts shared are thoughts halved and they will certainly want to help.
5. Look after your gut. Each of the different colour vegetables contain different properties that are great for your gut microbiome. Therefore, make your plate as colourful as you can and vary your food as much as you can. Your gut loves variety.
6. Include a variety of both pre-biotic foods (which feed your good bacteria) and probiotic foods (which add new good bacteria to your gut) in your diet every single day. Make sure you keep them varied, not just the same one each day.
Examples of Sources of Prebiotics:
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (especially important)
- Barley, Oats, Rye, Quinoa, Wheat, Potatoes (cooked and cooled – this creates resistant starch), Yams
- Asparagus, Onions (raw or cooked), Berries, Garlic, Leeks, Artichokes, Fennel, Ginger
- Apples, bananas, berries, citrus, kiwi
- Flax seeds, chia seeds
- Honey and Agave
Examples of Sources of Probiotics:
- Certain yoghurts (dairy/coconut/soy/kefir)
- Fermented products (not just soaked in vinegar): pickles, Bacterially fermented cheeses Kimchi, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, wine
- Yeasts, molds and fungi
- Mould-enhanced cheese like blue cheese
- Olives from and olive bar, not from a sealed jar
7. Remove the toxins from your life. There are so many chemicals in our lives these days, many scientists now believe that many people are unable to properly process the shear quantity that we face on a daily basis. They may well be disrupting your hormones and microbiome. So look for natural alternatives for cleaning products, skin and beauty care. Avoid processed foods, stress, heavy metals and plastics.
8. Avoid taking antibiotics unless you are dying. These kill all your gut bacteria leaving your immune system and mind vulnerable. If you are sick, put up with a bit of pain/discomfort for a few days and let your immune system fix the issue for you. Your body and mind will be stronger and happier for it in the long run.
9. Buy Organic vegetables and meat. Pesticides are a type of antibiotic. And non-organic meat is often fed antibiotics as they have been found to promote growth in child animals. Antibiotics and pesticides are designed to kill bacteria, both the good and the bad. Avoid them as much as possible.
10. Rest, relax and sleep. Your mind needs calm and peace to be able to function well. Allow yourself time to regenerate and recuperate. It is not selfish to take time out for yourself. It is actually essential for a happy mind and body. Those around you will reap the benefits when you are feeling good. Find a way to have quiet time every day and work on always getting 7-8 hours of sleep. Go to bed at the same time each night, get up at the same time each morning. Make sure you bedroom is cool and pitch black.