This is a slightly different version of a guest post I wrote for Brenda Janschek, Health & Lifestyle.
Unfortunately it is a commonly held belief that our bodies and minds are 2 very separate entities, functioning independently of each other. However, this could not be further from the truth. In reality, our bodies and our minds are closely linked and function together. If you don’t believe me, bring to mind an event from your life that has a strong emotion attached to it – anxiety, sadness, joy, anger – now hold that image or memory in your mind and tune into the sensations in your body. Notice where that emotion lives in your body, how it feels. Emotions do not exist only in our minds, they live in our bodies. Anxiety, depression, trauma, they all reside in our bodies and it is usually the sensations within our body that is the most distressing part of these experiences. Think of common phrases we use to describe emotional experiences – “gut wrenching”, “broken hearted”, “like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders” – they all describe sensations within our bodies.
When we aim for overall wellbeing we need to consider both physical and mental health. You can’t have one without the other. If we are trying to heal from or better manage mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, even bipolar disorder or schizophrenia we will be most successful if we combine some form of therapy (always with someone registered, qualified and suited to your individual needs) with ensuring that our bodies are well nourished and functioning in the best way that they can (and yes, therapy may include medication).
Poor nutrition and consuming processed “foods” laden with nasty additives add an extra burden to our bodies that are already struggling to cope with the issues that we are dealing with. These food choices can contribute to lethargy, insomnia, anxiety, mood problems, headaches and hyperactivity to name just a few. When we choose unprocessed wholefoods, good quality fruit, vegetables, proteins and healthy, natural fats (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, animal fats etc) then our bodies and brains are nourished. They function well, sleep well, have energy and cope better with day to day stressors. This in turn puts us in a much better position to deal with any issues causing us stress/distress. Additionally, ensuring we have good gut health means that factors such as immunity, allergies, food intolerances and many mental health issues (including autism and depression) are being managed well and possibly treated or prevented.
We can be proactive in our own mental health by noticing what we put into our bodies and how it makes us feel (click here for more info). We can notice how the behaviour of our children changes depending on what they have eaten. We can’t control what has happened to us throughout our lives or what our childhoods were like. We can’t control other people or what might happen in our futures but we can learn to take control of what we do today, how we react to and cope with situations that happen now. We can control what we put into our bodies and we can choose fuel that will help us feel good and function well in both our bodies and our minds.