Gone are the days where we were once told to keep calm and carry on, have a stiff upper lip and keep our chins firmly up. These days, mental health is rightly a genuine concern for governments and businesses alike that can no longer be overlooked or swept under the carpet.
This generation's collective and individual mental health has never been tested or put in the spotlight as it has over the last two years. Covid and its lockdowns triggered a huge spike in google searches regarding mental wellbeing, meditation techniques, and stress relief strategies.
The WHO has warned about the potential impact on our mental health and has made it a global talking point, encouraging governments and individuals to give it the seriousness it deserves. And businesses are now prioritising mental wellbeing and encouraging practices to maintain good working conditions that are beneficial to their employees overall mental health. Happy people = better work!
One thing is for sure: it is no longer taboo to give mental health issues a voice, as it was just a generation ago.
So what about you as an individual? What can you do to keep your physical and mental states purring along smoothly? Here we take a look at what the body and mind need to get and stay in perfect working order, especially as winter is coming.
VITAMINS For Winter Mental Health
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
First and foremost, ensuring you are feeding your body with the right nutrients is absolutely essential for mental health. And a large part of this is the vitamins we consume daily. During the winter, our vitamin needs do change slightly, which is one reason why supplements are super helpful.
This vitamin is vital for promoting healthy bones and teeth, keeping your immune system strong, regulating brain development and mood, supporting your nervous system and assisting lung function and cardiovascular health. It’s important.
A lack of vitamin D, or vitamin D deficiency, in the body has several detrimental physical and mental effects. They may include:
- Muscle and back pain
- Frequent illnesses as the immune system is weaker
- Weaker bone strength
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Our skin generates it naturally from contact with the sun. This is one of the reasons why people are far less often sick in the summer. However, the winter months are obviously when this natural source becomes increasingly scarce. Consequently, it is between November and February where illnesses increase, our moods drop and our mental health suffers. I hate January!
Nevertheless, if you supply your body with vitamin D in some shape or form, you will be giving yourself ammunition to fight the darkness: both literal and metaphorical.
Supplements are an easy way of making sure your body and mind have what they need to stay healthy. The Core Nutrition Vitamin D Spray provides a simple and tasty way to give you the required daily amount.
This is another essential vitamin that, surprisingly, cannot be stored within the body. This means that you need to feed your body vitamin C daily. Of its many benefits, the ones that are of greatest importance over the winter are:
- Boosting your immunity
- Reducing blood pressure
- Keeping your brain sharp
A lack of vitamin C can lead to slower thinking time and poor memory, and allow anxiety, depression and fatigue to sneak in more easily.
Good daily sources of vitamin C are: citrus fruits and berries, potatoes, broccoli, peppers and - everyone's favourite - brussel sprouts.
But supplements such as our Liquid Chlorophyll drops can make life a bit simpler if you’re not in the mood for the above (everyday, remember!). Or, for your kids, our Little Pharma Vitamin C Spray helps ensure your little ones are getting their daily amount.
Vitamin K includes vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Both of these work with your blood system and bone growth, with the latter being widely regarded as the more beneficial overall. They work to make sure your bones are strong and that your blood clots when you get a cut. However, there is further evidence to suggest that vitamin K2 is also important for mental health, particularly in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Our D3 + K2 vegan drops are a great way to get both vitamin D and K2 into your body.
Zinc is also an important player in assisting the immunity system. A review of five studies demonstrated that 80–92 mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%. Additionally, Zinc supplements significantly reduce the risk of infections and promote immune response in older adults.
As far as mental health is concerned, there are two benefits: firstly, you’ll reduce your chances of getting sick (and that’s no bad thing) and secondly, it helps stabilize mood. A deficiency of zinc can lead to increased irritability, anxiety and emotional instability.
Try our Ionic Zinc droplets and see if you feel more in balance.
This might be a new word for you, but it is not a new medicine. For over 3,000 years, Ashwagandha has been used to successfully treat a variety of mental health issues, particularly stress, anxiety, lack of concentration and memory.
Also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, Ashwagandha is a small plant that’s roots and leaves are grinded into a powder and can be taken with water or milk.
If you would like to give Ashwagandha a go, try the Wunder Workshop Ashwagandha. It can be mixed with tea, coffee, milkshakes, smoothies or just hot water.
EXERCISE For Winter Mental Health
“Release the endorphins!”
Yes, you may feel a little less motivated to put your running shoes on over the cold winter months, and we don't blame you. However, getting regular exercise is hugely beneficial – not only for your physical fitness, but also for your mental health.
Home workouts, going to the gym, or a couple of runs a week will do wonders for your overall wellbeing. In terms of mental health, regular exercise will boost self-esteem, get you sleeping better, improve brain sharpness and, conversely, increase your energy levels.
The magic word here is endorphins. Endorphins are produced during and after a workout to reduce pain or stress. They are the body's natural pain and stress reliever. They are sometimes known as the ‘feel-good’ chemical as they act to boost happiness. Therefore, the more you exercise, the more you produce, and consequently you will be less stressed and happier.
The act of working out will also give you a sense of self accomplishment which is a big boost to self-esteem. Winter may be coming and it’s tempting to wrap yourself up on the sofa (and that's fine!), but try not to skip the exercise.
Check out our blog on youtube workout videos to give you some inspiration.
DOWNTIME For Winter Mental Health
“Put yourself first!”
Last but not least, relax properly.
Some ideas worth considering to give yourself a well-earned and fulfilling break are:
- Turn off your work phone/device in the evening and overnight - boundaries are good and empowering.
- Don’t watch/read the news or tv or use your phone just before going to bed - it can be depressing and the light from the TV/phone tricks your brain into staying awake, causing insomnia.
- Avoid using your device in general when eating: eat healthy food slowly and try to reduce screen time.
- Listen to music - it’s all subjective, but music that makes you feel happy.
- Spa day - treat yourself!
- Do something you love - be it playing an instrument, painting or extreme ironing.
- See good friends - laughter is the best medicine!
- Break the routine - e.g. take an alternative route to/from work to stimulate your mind.
- See/try something new - there are a lot of things out there, you might just find a new passion.
To sum up, providing your body with the essential vitamins will benefit you both physically and mentally. If you supply your body with the right amount of vitamin D, C, K2 as well as Zinc, you will boost your immunity and improve your mental and emotional wellbeing and keep energy levels up. Taking exercise and relaxing properly will also stimulate your body and mind into blocking or releasing any negative emotions from getting hold.
As always, if you are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, stress, lack of energy or have symptoms of depression, or anything negative in general, it is important to share those feelings with someone you trust. A trusted friend/family member, your manager or HR department and/or a Healthcare specialist are some great options.
There is no need to put a brave face on these issues anymore and getting help has never been easier.
Check out the NHS’ advice and useful links for further information.