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Posts tagged ‘Mental health’

Reasons to be cheerful…

Depression, it’s become another modern day epidemic.

According to the WHO, the World Health Organisation:

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease
  • More women are affected by depression than men
  • At its worst, depression can lead to suicide

That’s a sad reality.

heard a statistic that shocked me this morning.

In 2016, there were 44,965 suicides in the United States of America, and that figure is likely low, due to under-reporting. Can you visualise in your mind’s eye what 45 thousand people looks like, if they all stood in a big field in one place? Yikes. Suicide rates per 100,000 of population are slightly lower in the UK, but we still saw over 5,800 suicides in the same time period.

It makes me wonder what is going wrong in our modern society that so many people take their own lives, living in such rich, abundant societies. In wealthy nations such as the US and the UK, we supposedly ‘have it all’ in wealth, healthcare, standard of living, yet so many people are so unhappy that their paths lead to suicide. I think about this too much, and it leads me to tears, as a father and as a citizen, it’s such a sad fact of our modern lives.

It makes me think ‘clearly wealth and possessions don’t automatically mean happiness’. I mean, in the US and the UK we have so much that folks in poorer countries do not…

  • Social and political freedoms
  • We have the best modern healthcare
  • Never-before-seen-in-human-history low infant mortality
  • Ubiquitous public sanitation
  • Clean drinking water for all
  • Electricity and heating for every home
  • State healthcare
  • Welfare systems
  • Flushing toilets

Billions of humans live in other countries without these luxuries, we should all be counting our blessings every day!

There seems to be little correlation between wealth and suicide at a national level.

But I meet people every day who are miserable, unhappy, complaining of anxiety and depression. They have warm comfortable homes, modern cars, every comfort and luxury. Their biggest worry is where to take their annual holiday, which episode of some TV series to watch, or which take-away pizza toppings to order. Clearly, depression is not caused by the difficulty of our life circumstances, or at least it’s not that alone.

Which begs the question, and yes I know I am massively over-simplifying things here (come on, it’s a short blog post, not a PhD thesis), if people in rich countries who have freedom and every luxury can be depressed, while people in poor countries with few possessions or luxuries can be happy, then what is causing much of the depression in our society?

Of course, such a huge discussion is beyond the scope of this blog post, and there are many varied causes behind depression. Trauma, abuse, psychological harm, biochemical imbalances, a myriad of social and psychological factors, and while I am unqualified and unskilled in this area, I am sure no two cases are ever the same, and everyone is different.

But I do have some personal experience, having been through depression myself at one time in my life; and I have some knowledge through studies and experiences of how lifestyle and dietary factors can exacerbate some cases of depression, or help alleviate them.

I’m not saying any quack nonsense about “Just cheer up and eat some broccoli and you’ll be fine!” I think we all know it’s a bit more complicated than that…and as I wrote above, there are doubtless no two cases of depression that are the same, with no two same causes and no two same cures.

But there are some things you can do to help ensure that biologically, your brain is working optimally.

  • You can get more sleep. Sleep deprivation is a well known contributing causal factor in many brain disorders, including anxiety and depression. Sitting up til 3am watching TV, checking Facebook on your phone at four in the morning, shift work and chronic long-term sleep deprivation are all no-no’s, and these are factors you can control. Get to bed soon after 10pm, make sure your bedroom is cool, properly dark, well ventilated (clean behind wardrobes to remove mould and excess dust), and leave the electronic devices downstairs – bed is for sleep, love making and reading a book, nothing else.
  • Get more sunshine. It’s a fact that around 70% or so of the UK population are somewhat deficient in vitamin D. The best way to get optimal vitamin D is to expose your skin to the sun, so with most folks working indoors these days, and given our grey weather much of the year, vitamin D can be a real challenge! Whenever you can, get outside and get some skin on show. Eat plenty of oily fish, eggs and liver. Consider having your vitamin D tested and maybe taking a supplement for the winter half of the year.
  • Improve your diet. While it remains scientifically unproven at this point in time, I feel sure that in the future studies will show that diet has more of an impact on mental health than we currently credit it for. Don’t wait, improve your diet now:
    • Zinc plays many relevant roles in brain health, including helping with libido, stress coping, dopamine production, depression and more. Eat plenty of fresh oily fish, shellfish, free-range eggs and nuts to keep zinc high in your diet.
    • Magnesium has been shown to have links to anxiety, learning ability, confusion, irritability and insomnia. Keep magnesium high by eating lots of fresh leafy greens, fish, nuts and seeds.
    • Don’t starve, and avoid the fad diets. Studies suggest that severe calorie restriction can exacerbate anxiety and stress.
    • Your brain is made of mostly fat and water, so ensure you nourish it well by keeping both high in your diet – good fats from oily fish, organ meats, free-range eggs, avocado, grass-fed butter, olive oil and nuts are all good, plus stay well hydrated which helps combat fatigue in many ways.
  • Exercise is a proven way to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Establish a daily habit of taking some exercise, keep it varied and fun, try to find a participation sport you enjoy. Regular movement and exercise has also been proven to help reduce and slow dementia in the elderly.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation, work over time to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and always try to see all the good in your life – focus on the good, not the challenges.

Maybe you noticed, that all these tips are already encapsulated in the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, a healthy lifestyle that’s good for both your mind and your body.

I can’t promise you that a jog round the block and a plate full of broccoli will cure anything, including depression, but Mother Nature’s Diet is all about teaching preventive medicine, and living this way can ensure your brain is functioning as well as possible biologically, to help you cope with everything life throws at you, the good and the bad.

Let’s help spread the word to as many people as possible.

To your good health!

Karl

 

Doing what you have to do, versus doing what you want to do…

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in all the tasks we have to do…and forget to give ourselves time to enjoy.

There is an art to finding balance in how we live our lives.

From a statement like that, we could go off in all manner of directions; around diet and ‘moderation in all things’; around exercise and the benefits of variety; around relationships, careers and more. Rather than exploring any or all such topics in depth, let’s just look at one angle, the work-life balance. And by ‘work’ I don’t just mean ‘career’ or ‘your job’, I mean the broader work-life balance, the balance between always doing what you have to do, versus doing what you want to do. In our modern high-speed lives we always have so much to do.

Some of this is real – that leak in the conservatory roof must get fixed, because every time it rains water is pouring in and it’s making a mess, filling buckets, staining the floor, so this is an urgent task that must be attended to, it’s no use saying “I’ll do that next month”. But many of the things we find ourselves striving to get done are not so essential, or at least not so urgent; often they are self-imposed rules we feel we should live by, or goals we feel we must achieve to fit in, to meet certain social or societal standards, to keep up with the Jones’s. We don’t want our lawn to look unkempt compared to our neighbours; we must attend that parent–teacher association meeting at our child’s school; we must wear certain clothes, look a certain way, earn a certain amount, drive a certain type of car.

Constant overwhelm

It’s not to say there is anything wrong with helping out at the parent–teacher association, or driving a BMW, or having an immaculately manicured lawn, there isn’t, these are all good things. But the problem is, we often find our lives become completely swamped in all these things, between parenting, working full time, trying to stay fit and healthy, keeping up family contacts and obligations, maintaining the home and more, so often we feel utterly overwhelmed with it all. I speak to people almost daily who joke (but they are only half-joking) something like “I go to work for a rest!” Often we find the weekend is busier than the working week.

I feel this myself sometimes…I pour my energy into my working week, it has structure and purpose, I have objectives for the week, and I work hard to get those things done. Working from home I have to be fairly strict about my working time; I have to avoid distractions, family, the kids, things that need fixing, conversations, play, repairs…all the things that come up during a typical week. I have to have the discipline to say “Not now, I’ll put it on my list and deal with it at the weekend” and by the time the weekend comes, I have more to do on a Saturday or Sunday that during the week – so much for rest!

No time for fun at the weekend

This has become our norm as a society. And I don’t know about you, but I am fairly hard on myself for the things that don’t get done. I still don’t find time to Read more

Fat shaming, beach bodies and thigh gaps…

Fat shaming, plus size models, beach bodies and the thigh gap – why are we even having these conversations?

I wrote this a while back, when the singer Lady Gaga came in for some so-called ‘fat shaming’ criticism after her performance at the Super Bowl a couple of months ago. Take a look at the pictures of her performing, here in this news article, and see what you think.

First off, anyone who thinks that what they see in these pictures is somehow overweight, or some kind of ‘jelly belly’ or ‘muffin top’ then they have some serious issues around body image perception and they need to get educated on what is a healthy level of body fat. Let me put this in plain English – if you think that is ‘fat’, then you’re part of the problem. Seriously, no wonder so many young people, especially girls, have body image problems and develop eating disorders, when people seem unable to differentiate between ‘slim‘ and ‘muffin top‘.

Time and again, long-term epidemiological studies show that ‘overweight’ is just as healthy, or often healthier, than ‘normal’ weight when it comes to longevity and all-cause mortality. As I have said many times in my live seminars, the truth is that ‘pinch an inch’ is actually healthier than a rippling 6-pack. That’s not to deny that many of us covet low enough body fat to have visible abs, and as such it’s fair to say that ‘vanity goals’ are not without merit – they can support strong self esteem, body confidence and so on, but there is no evidence that ‘washboard abs lean’ is particularly any healthier than ‘normal’.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that the obsession with being thin is Read more

Be kind

I saw this in a book the other day, it struck a chord with me.Mental pain quote

I’ve dealt with some physical pain, 20 years of yo-yo diets, in and out of obesity, I’ve bust a bunch of bones, fractured my spine in two places, fallen down a mountain, suffered through some marathons and ultra distance events, I’ve fought through some tough physical challenges, not least losing 7 stone 3, 101 pounds of fat.

But that’s nothing, really, compared to dealing with the mental pain of losing someone you love, fighting depression, or struggling for years to overcome three decades of emotionally crippling low self-esteem.

Don’t confuse physical toughness with mental and emotional toughness. Some people can endure physical pain, some can endure emotional pain. Some people can endure both, and some can endure neither.

It’s easy to recognise physical toughness in a person, and our culture acknowledges these people openly. Meanwhile, many people who have faced, and continue to face, huge mental and emotional challenges, slip quietly among us, unnoticed and often unsupported.

Those people might be in the same room as you right now, working across the desk from you, sitting in the chair beside you, reading whatever you just posted, or waiting to hear from you, quietly hoping you’ll call or email today.

Maybe that person is you.

You never know. Just be kind, please, to everyone.
1luvx

How are you feeding your mind?

If you are a regular follower of MND, you will already know that I’m always trying to get you guys to think about and talk about something other than FOOD!

Food is ONLY 1 piece of the puzzle. Good health and a long life is about MUCH MUCH MORE! Hopefully, those of you who have been to my 1-day Seminar understand this bigger picture.

So beyond ‘feeding your body’…how do you ‘feed your mind’?

In my little home office, I have approximately 500 books. I’ve not counted them all out precisely, but perhaps about 100 are business books, about 100 are personal development books, at least 200 are on nutrition and disease and exercise, and the last 100 are novels, classics, autobiographies, philosophy, travel biographies and history books.

Most are part-read, most have multiple corners turned in, sticky notes and bookmarks poking out.

When I finish books, I either keep them for reference, or gift them to friends or charity shops. Life is too short to read most books twice, so I only keep them for re-reading if they are exceptionally good. I have at least 600 more archived away in my loft. My Amazon wish list has another 700 on it. I would LOVE to buy them all right NOW!

You know, I left school at 15, I had a few ‘O’ levels, going to University was never an option in my family, as my mum would say “we’re not those kind of people”. I went on to work in factories and workshops for the next 12 years. At 27, I ran away and lived Read more

Two whole years without alcohol

Today marks TWO YEARS since I consumed so much as a drop of alcohol.

I can honestly say that quitting alcohol has been one of the smartest decisions of my life.

I quit refined white sugar a few months earlier, and the combined effect of eliminating alcohol and sugar from my diet has been life-changing.

Alcohol is an insidious poison, it slowly takes a hold in your life, and it changes how your brain works in ways you will never fully understand until you are free from this drug.

If someone invented alcohol today, as a new product, it would be outlawed the same way cocaine is.

I have no intention of ever drinking again.

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/07/01/alcohol-are-you-in-control-of-your-relationship-with-alcohol/

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/12/31/miracle-hangover-cure/

Beauty, Photoshop and the Media – keep it REAL people

Hey folks, today, I don’t have time to write much, so I am going to let a bunch of pictures do the talking. They say ‘a picture says a thousand words’, so hopefully these pictures will tell you all you need to know.

I gathered these images from the net, I do not have any permission to reproduce them, so all copyrights are assigned to the original owners, whoever they may be!

I have heard a lot of talk lately about the ridiculous level of Photoshop use, about how nothing we see is ‘real’ any more, we can’t trust anything we see in print or on screen. We talk about Photoshop, because it’s the best known image-manipulation software, but in fact there are many people and computers involved in creating the stereotypical images of perfection that we see in magazines, on TV and on billboards. There are professional make-up artists, hair extensions and hair stylists, fashion stylists, wardrobe experts, set designed, professional photographers with their lights and lenses, and then the computers set to work slimming thighs and eliminating blemishes.

What we see in the media, the images used in advertising, selling us everything from bathrooms to holidays, slimming foods to make up, clothes to cars, are not REAL. We are being sold a lie, and REAL people in the REAL world can never look like the images the media use to sell us these dreams.

As the line in the Baz Luhrmann song says “Don’t read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.”

It saddens me that we all, men and women, though particularly women, impressionable young women, come under this insane, cruel pressure every single day.

I have written about this before –

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/03/12/beauty-magazines-and-media-pressure/

and

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/06/16/harming-young-minds-the-impossible-standard-of-airbrush-beauty-in-the-media/

So now, I just want to share some images with you, to help YOU see the truth.

Read more