The past year-and-a-half has plunged most of us into confusion and upheaval. For many people, it has impacted our mental wellbeing, too; and so now more than ever it’s important that we prioritise taking care of our bodies and our minds. Here are some evidence-based approaches to diet and lifestyle that can help keep you mentally well through difficult times.
What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘self-care’? Is it skincare and massages? Herbal tea and meditation, maybe? Or perhaps just a curling up in the couch in your pyjamas?
The truth is that there’s no one single approach to self-care. It can be anything at all really, as long as that something looks after your body and mind. And while there are plenty of things which we can’t change right now, carving out time for practices that are good for our mental wellbeing is something that is within our control — especially when it comes to how we eat, how we move out bodies, and how we let ourselves rest and recover.
But before you race out for all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta, when we say ‘a Mediterranean diet’, what we actually mean is a diverse and healthy way of eating that is largely plant-focussed, and which centres around plenty of colourful vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, plus legumes like beans and lentils, alongside quality proteins from seafood, eggs, and poultry, with only occasional red meat. The Mediterranean diet also contains plenty of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds.
And lastly, there are the activities that most of us think of when we think of self-care: those seemingly indulgent practices that are actually powerful tools in keeping us well. In particular, slowing down in the evenings is important. Swap screen time for a book, switch out your glass of wine for a cup of herbal tea, and make time for those calming ‘you time’ activities that are easy to ignore when life gets a little confusing and stressful. Your sleep — and, in turn, your mental wellbeing — will thank you for it.