Tips for supporting mental health

Mental health issues can affect us at any age and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives.

The symptoms are varied and include fatigue, persistent sadness, low mood, suicidal thoughts, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep changes, low sex drive, changes in appetite and general health issues such as headaches and digestive problems.

Tips for supporting mental health

The following lifestyle factors can have a positive impact on our mood and are a great start-point for supporting our mental health on a daily basis:

Get plenty of sleep – see our blog post 12 Tips for a better sleep

Eat well – an anti-inflammatory diet that supports neurotransmitter function can help to support mental health. Neurotransmitters are the brain’s messenger chemicals and control mood, sleep, energy, appetite and other functions. Include lots of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, poultry and lean red meat and avoid processed, sugary foods as much as possible.

Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs – whilst they may provide an initial high, they affect neurotransmitters and impact mood over the longer term

Spend plenty of time outdoors in the sunlight – sunlight enables our body to make vitamin D and natural light and fresh air can help to improve immunity, concentration and mood.

Manage stress – relaxation techniques such as deep-breathing, meditation and mindfulness can help with stress management, as can trying to reduce your load on a daily basis.

Exercise and activity – any type of activity can help, including walking, yoga and weight-lifting. Exercise supports the production of neurotransmitters and it is useful to build some sort of physical activity into each day.

Connect with others – building relationships can be key in helping to support mental health.

Key supplements that can also help to support mood include vitamin D3, fish oil, B vitamins (particularly folate and vitamin B12) and probiotics.

Specific herbs have also been shown to help improve mood, including adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola and Ashwaganda and essential oils such as lavender and chamomile.