Mental Health Awareness Week – Eating For Happiness
Mental health although of great importance, remains to be a subject of taboo and misunderstanding.
This year Mental Health Awareness Week falls between the 8th–14th May, and is therefore the perfect time for us to highlight the significance of mental health within the workplace and the benefits that can come with the nurturing of mental health among employees.
Please be aware that this blog post is NOT aimed at those who are clinically depressed or those taking medication to ease depression, but simply an aid to lifting and lightening mood and boosting energy.
Here are a few facts of the impact mental health has on the workplace:
- Mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence in the workplace
- 70 million workdays are lost each year in the UK due to mental health
- These missed workdays cost employers approximately £2.4 billion every year
Many underestimate the importance of mental health within the workplace even though this is where we spend so much of our time, with the need to be productive and motivated in order to be successful. Do you know how much time we spend doing the most mundane yet important things?
In your lifetime you will spend approximately:
- 3 months sat in traffic
- 10.3 years at work
- 2 years in meetings
- 5 years sitting at a desk
- 27 days waiting for public transport
- 7 years lying awake, unable to sleep
Much of this time can be stressful and highly demanding, and on occasions damaging to our mood and mental wellbeing. Ensuring that we are fully equipped to cope and overcome life’s pressures will enable to become the best we can be, both in and out of the workplace.
What are the benefits to the business if mental health is nurtured?
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Increased productivity
- Improved mood and team playing
- Reduced sickness and absenteeism
- Improved atmosphere throughout the workplace
- Reduced business costs
So how can food help to improve mental health?
- Science has shown that a depressed brain is an inflamed brain, and what we eat largely dictates the amount of inflammation we experience. Sugar and simple carbohydrates are highly inflammatory and are best eaten infrequently, if at all.
- Our brains use approximately 20% of the energy we put into our bodies each day.
- Having breakfast will ‘break the fast’, setting you up with a kick-start of energy first thing in the day.
- Alcohol can deplete your B Vitamins, which are essential for mental health and utilising energy.
- Drinking 6-8 glasses of water each day will help you with feeling alert – one study has shown that drinking a glass of water could make your brain 14% faster.
- It is also worth noting that engaging in physical activity could decrease stress and depression by 30%.
Which foods will help to boost your mood and mental health?
|Leafy green vegetables|
E.g. Broccoli, spinach, kale
|High in folate which has been linked with improving energy levels and depression|
|Oats||A soluable fibre that will provide you with a steady blood sugar level and therefore stable energy levels|
|Oily fish. E.g. Sardines, mackerel, salmon||Contains omega 3 which will help to keep brain cells flexible, improving brain health and mood|
|Sweet potatoes||High in folate to help maintain energy levels|
|Brazil nuts||A very rich source of selenium, which has been linked to increased mood. You only need 3 per day to get your full daily dose!|
|High in folate and iron which helps to maintain an improved mood. Lentils also help to increase the brain’s production of serotonin.|
|Yoghurt||Rich in calcium and Vitamin D, both having shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. If possible, choose plain Greek yoghurt as the increased protein content will keep you fuller for longer.|
|A wide selection of fruit and vegetables||Filled with antioxidants which help to protect omega 3’s within the body- enabling the oily fish you’ve eaten to work to it’s maximum benefit|
|Chicken||Contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps to boost serotonin levels and therefore improve mood.|
|Dark chocolate||The darker the better, helping to release endorphins and boost your serotonin levels. A single square is enough to reduce stress hormones and anxiety levels.|