In busy modern life, many of us live with chronic stress exposure. From long working hours to exhaustive commutes. To juggling family demands with work and maintaining relationships, is it any wonder that we often return home at the end of the day and fall in a heap. Many of us are barely surviving let alone thriving. And our mental health is suffering as a result. Antidepressant use is widespread and 1 in 5 people will suffer from a mental health episode at some point in their adult life and up to 14% of us struggle with anxiety – something has to give.
While instant retirement may seem like the best option, along with moving to a beachside home to live the simple, for most of us this is simply not an option. And while we can seek out stress reduction strategies, one of the easiest things we can do on a daily basis to improve our mental health is to fuel ourselves properly. What we eat and drink on a daily basis determines how we feel. When we feel energised and healthy we are more in control and much better equipped to deal with the stressors life throws at us.
So if you feel that you have not been managing your stress particularly well, and not taking the time to look after your body physically, here are some easy steps to help you build a strong nutrition platform for good health.
1. Eat more fresh food
Ideally we need 7-10 serves of fresh fruit and veges every single day to help promote optimal nutrient intake. This means we need a big salad or soup at lunch as well as 2-3 cups of vegetables at dinner, along with a couple of pieces of fruit every single day.
2. Keep hydrated
At any one time most people are dehydrated primality because thirst is a reasonably weak reflex compared to hunger. Drink more water by always carrying a water bottle with you, have a daily water target to aim for or consider installing a ready to go water filter like a Zip tap HydroTap at your home or office*.
3. Sit down and enjoy your meals
Taking time out to enjoy balanced meals in a social environment away from screens is one of life’s most simple pleasures. Not only is our nutritional intake better when we at this way but we control our calorie intake much more specifically when we are focused and mindful when eating.
4. Get your good fats
Oily fish, nuts, seeds, grains, olive oil and avocado contain a range of different fats which are linked to positive mood states and a reduced risk of depression. For the average person this translates to a handful of mixed nuts, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a serve of oily fish each day.
5. Plan ahead
Planning is the secret to good nutrition – packing your lunch the night before, keeping filled water bottles at home and at work, ordering shopping online, preparing a few meals in advance. Once you get into the habit of planning your food and fluids in advance you eat better, drink enough and feel a whole lot better each and every day.
*Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.