Health Check for Your Brain & Emotional Mind
As we mark World Mental Health Day, I got thinking about how our physical condition impacts on our mental state. Our feelings of frustration, anxiety and anger all come from our emotional mind as opposed to our physical body. I am preaching to the converted when I say how much our pain and fatigue impacts our mental state. Therefore, it is important for us to ensure that we look after our emotional body, not just the physical.
To still our mind of all feelings and emotions is impossible. But there are things that we can do to ensure that we give our brain the best chance of dealing and processing all those thoughts and ultimately benefitting our physical body.
To rest our brain when it is overloaded with all those pain signals is tough but when we are in the right head space, this has the knock on effect of being better able to cope with pain and fatigue.
It goes without saying that when we become stressed and overwhelmed our pain and fatigue invariably escalates. We are less able to cope and this is usually when we manifest our “Fibro Flare”. Therefore, we have to learn to be honest about our thoughts and emotions. It is important to own them and acknowledge that there is a no failure in admitting that sometimes we have a tough ride in our heads as well as our bodies.
So, just how do we take care of our brain and ultimately our emotional state? There is much documented evidence as to the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. I am a huge advocate of the benefits that stilling the mind can bring, it has certainly impacted my symptoms for the better.
To find out about the benefits of Meditation and Fibromyalgia just follow this link.
Why not take some time today to just get into your head space. Sit with your emotions and put that spotlight on your challenges. Can you overcome them? Are you able to adjust and adapt? Maybe you can change your perception of what is in front of you? Take steps to calm your mind and thoughts then see where it takes your physical body.
We all know how important it is to eat well for our physical health, but our mental wellbeing can also benefit from a great diet.
Just like any other organ or muscle in the body, the brain needs a great nutritional diet to keep it in tip top condition. So, what foods can help us keep a happy, healthy brain?
- Wholegrains with a low GI are a great way to keep our brain energized throughout the day. By opting for brown cereals, rice, pasta and granary bread this enables glucose to slowly release into the bloodstream throughout the day. This helps to keep your brain alert and able to concentrate and focus.
- Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout not only take care of our brain but are also great choices for healthy heart and joints too. Our bodies cannot produce essential fatty acids which means that we need to source them from our diets. Great plant alternatives include flaxseeds, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, soya beans and walnuts. These fats obtained either from their plant sources, oily fish or omega 3 supplements help make serotonin; the brains stress busting, happy chemical and who wouldn’t want more of that?
- Ever walk into a room to get something and then completely forget what it was you went looking for? Yep, hands up to that one! Well research by Tufts University in the US (http://enews.tufts.edu/stories/101399BlueberriesMayImproveMemory.htm) has shown incorporating blueberries into our diet may improve memory loss. They have antioxidant properties and crucially contain protective compounds called anthocyanins. This gives the pigment to the very dark red, purple and blue fruits & vegetables. Blueberries are also a great choice for improving our learning capacity and motor skills.
- Foods rich in B vitamins such as eggs, fish chicken and leafy greens are great for helping to reduce the risk of a stroke. A study has shown that by introducing Homocysteine lowering B vitamin foods, the accelerated rate of brain atrophy can be slowed down. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20838622
- Tomatoes are another power packed, antioxidant laden fruit or vegetable (you decide). They contain lycopene which helps to protect cells from free radical damage which occurs in the development of dementia. For optimal benefits tomatoes are best eaten cooked with a little olive oil to help with their absorption.
- Dark chocolate is another great brain food which can help with inflammation. Rich in flavanols , it is fab for reducing blood pressure, memory loss and acts as a mood enhancer. Ideally your dark chocolate should contain 85% and above cocoa. Unfortunately milk chocolate does not have the same benefits but I guess dark chocolate is better than none.
These are just a few foods that really can boost and support our brains, but there are many others out there which are just a yummy and beneficial to maintaining the health of our little grey cells.