Good health teams a fit and strong body with a keen mind and positive attitude. Following are some tips to improve your mental wellbeing.
Keep your blood sugar levels steady
For optimum performance, brain cells rely on a steady supply of glucose, also known as blood sugar. This does not mean a diet of jelly beans and cola drinks, as these will cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels, closely followed by a downward spiral, causing poor concentration, low energy and irritability. Low glycaemic foods such as nuts and seeds, vegetables and legumes (eg baked beans) are the best brain food.
The lure of a lustrous complexion is often quoted as the reason people take to the water bottle, however, given that brain tissue is over 70 per cent water it makes good sense to keep both body and mind well hydrated. Studies of brain tissue of people with dementia have shown evidences of mild dehydration. All the more reason to make sure you drink plenty of water and herbal teas.
Relax and meditate
Meditation increases the relaxing, or parasympathetic nervous system, at the same time dampening the ‘flight and fight’, or sympathetic nervous system. Meditation doesn’t mean you have to listen to whale music whilst sitting in lotus position. Switch on the parasympathetic nervous system by simply learning to belly breathe. Breathe deeply into your lower belly, expanding the abdomen below your belly button on the ‘in breath’. With the (slightly longer) ‘out breath’ allow the belly to sink back towards your spine.
Use affirmations throughout the day
Very often your state of mind is dictated by negative self talk. Destructive thoughts as ‘I’m such a duffus… so forgetful…. Never finish anything properly… blah blah blah’ are bound to affect mood and how one responds to life’s ups and downs. Affirmations are positive phrases you repeat throughout the day to ‘wipe out’ and superimpose on negative thoughts. For instance ‘I am an organised person who achieves my goals’.
Stimulate the mind with essential oils
Of the five senses, the sense of smell is perhaps the most powerful. Bypassing the cognitive brain, smell directly taps into the limbic system, governing the emotions. Deliciously fragrant essential oils can be used to stimulate the mind. They can be used in a massage oil base, or in an oil vaporiser. Rosemary oil improves memory, lemon oil reduces mental fatigue and Neroli (orange blossom) reduces depression and stress.