Building strong social connections is just part of a larger picture when it comes to mental wellbeing. It has been proven that having strong support may provide an individual with psychological and physiological benefits. Being able to share stress or concerns with a mental health wellbeing officer of your local club, a close family or a friend provides an opportunity for outside support and advice, which alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield, American author and Buddhist mindfulness pioneer.
Prolonged stress is a contributing factor to many of today's chronic diseases, and for an athlete can be detrimental to performance, slowed recovery, recurring infections and lowered immunity. As an athlete, you are at greater risk of these issues due to the stresses both mentally and physically of training, competition, academics and life in general.
As well as the above having a role in mental wellbeing. What we eat and drink also effects how we feel, think and behave.
One of the most under recognised factors in the development of mental wellbeing is nutrition. Friends who know me, hear me speak of this all the time. Just like the other systems of the body, the brain is an organ that requires complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water to remain healthy and function optimally.
An integrated approach that takes into account an individual's biological factors, as well as psychological and emotional factors associated with mental health, is necessary in order to reduce the prevalence of mental health issues. In my personal option, diet is the very cornerstone of this integrated approach.
Integrated mind-body approaches to support mental wellbeing has increased dramatically recently. Evidence backed research supports associations between diet, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness in mental wellbeing.
Consuming a diet that provides adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water may help with the production of neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function and mood. Vitamins and minerals are required by all systems in the body and help perform a number of essential functions.
Individuals who experience anxiety often find that by addressing their gut health these symptoms may be alleviated. This is due to a large body of research that has clearly demonstrated that gut microbiota (the trillions of microorganisms) helps to regulate brain function via the “gut-brain axis.” When the gut microbiota becomes compromised, referred to as "dysbiosis" which simulates inflammation within the gut has been linked to mental wellbeing. Therefore it is important to reestbalish and restore microbial balance within the gut.
To nurture overall health and that of mental wellbeing it is important to eat wholesome food, avoid white and processed foods and a high sugar consumption. Being mindful of thoughts is also important, take control of any negative thoughts and have a strong social support - these are some of the best ways to help decrease stress and help promote wellbeing.
PS I warmly invite you to book in for a complementary 30-minute Health and Transformation call with me to see if a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan may help your performance, recovery, overall health and wellbeing.