How To Enhance Your Mood and Mental Health - By Kelly Anderson (Psychologist)

Local Psychologist, Kelly Anderson shares her tips for staying mentally healthy in 2019.

Currently one in five Australians experience mental ill health every year.  Psychological research has revealed a range of approaches that can help people stay mentally healthy and to make the most of life.   The most important approaches to Mental Health start with Nutrition-what we eat and Exercise!

Look after your body:  

A good lifestyle supports mental health. Eat a well-balanced nutritious diet, exercise regularly, get out into nature, and avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs.

When visiting a Psychologist they will do a brief assessment of nutrition, physical activity, sleep and sunlight exposure that may reveal underlying vulnerabilities to poor mental health. Systemic physiological stress and inflammation has an impact on our ability to absorb nutrients from food (food intolerances, poor quality food) and can impede the construction of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (our feel good chemicals). Recent research indicates that depression can be linked to health factors such as poor sleep hygiene, lack of physical activity, lack of safe sunlight exposure and a poor diet.

What you can do:

Eat a whole food, fresh and seasonal diet and look into any underlying food intolerances or vitamin and mineral levels with your doctor or health practitioner. There is a link between grain consumption and mental health symptoms.  Avoiding grains and noticing any improvement in symptoms can be an option when working with a health practitioner and your doctor. More fruit and vegetables can help too.

Engage in at least 30 minutes of physical exercise each day.  You can combine day-to-day activities with exercise if your time poor.  For example parking further away to walk to work or school or playing with the kids.  In the treatment of anxiety, strenuous bursts of activity may be more effective in flushing excess cortisol and other stress hormones out of the body. Interval training, such as sprints, can be completed in just 10 to 15 minutes per session. Physical strength and mental health are related; as a long-term intervention plan the inclusion of strength training can assist in building stronger foundations for future mental health and wellbeing.  A sedentary lifestyle is a predictor of physical and mental health problems. Regular physical activity has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressant medication in the treatment of mild depression and can be useful in ‘resetting’ the fight or flight response when treating anxiety disorders.  Lets get moving!

Kelly Anderson (B Psych / MAPS)

Information can be found from “Quality of lifestyle: Building the foundations for better mental health” (Petra Skeffington Assoc MAPS, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University)

Stephanie Vanden-Bergh