I wanted to echo the importance of no.8 – take care of your body. It’s taken me 36 years of life to realise how much diet (both in terms of drink and food) affects mental state. Here are some key things for me. High toxin intake, particularly alcohol, is ruinous for calm and emotional balance. High calorie intake leads to increased heart rate and adrenalin, and thus higher stress response, so eating less is calm-inducing (but of course not starving the body – that also increases adrenalin). Raw food and fatty acids are essential for the brain. Have a salad every day if possible, and lots of olive oil. Dehydration affects mood a lot. When the body is dehydrated, emercency systems are activated, and..yes…more adrenalin. A recent realisation for me is that there is scientific evidence showing that glutamate, the key part of MSG – that favourite flavour enhancer – increases histamine production and heart rate. Histamine is a stress hormone and majorly damaging to the body if present in excess. So avoid anything with MSG in (which is a lot – everything from Supernoodles to cheap Pizzas).
Also, it is now known that insulin production has knock-on effects on other hormones, so it is important to eat when your body is expecting food (i.e. at mealtimes only), to keep insulin production in check with body sugar. Also, high-sugar foods mean great peaks and troughs of insulin, which in turn means peaks and troughs in other hormones and moods. Lots of sugar is therefore not good for mental health.
Personally, I think that more therapists should be nutritionists too! It’s crazy trying to help someone who is feeling anxious with therapy if they have a terrible diet and high alcohol intake.]]>