Described by the World Health Organisation as “the health epidemic of the 21stCentury”, stress can have catastrophic consequences.
Word on the Street sat down with local women’s health coach and personal trainer Nicola Sinclair for Mental Health Awareness Week to get some tips for safeguarding and improving your mental wellbeing.
She said: “So many of us live stressful lives – technology that was meant to improve communications and make life easier means we’re always on tap, constantly checking emails and never truly switching off. Always checking social media gives us a fairly distorted and usually overly-rosy view of the lives friends and acquaintances are living, and that comparison can also be harmful.
“Our bodies need rest time – being in a permanent state of stress can lead to devastating long-term health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and many mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and, when depression kicks in, making the changes needed to improve your life can seem impossible.”
Nicola helps coach local women in nutrition, exercise, meditation and in identifying factors which may be compromising their health and wellbeing.
She added: “Human interaction can be so restorative. Yet we spend so much time looking down at our phones that we miss constant opportunities for human connections that can be incredibly soothing. I often urge my clients to have mini digital detox as a way of reconnecting.
“That fight or flight adrenalin-fuelled response humans have when we’re under threat is a survival mechanism meant to last for minutes at most or until the danger passes but our lives are so hectic that in modern life it can last much longer – that’s so harmful to our health.
“Finding exercise you really enjoy can make the world of difference – when you’re physically active your body releases more hormones such as serotonin, which can help improve mood.
“Little things like having a drink as a way of winding down can also inhibit the quality of sleep we get and, as such, is a fairly ineffective de-stressing crutch.”
Sleep is vital for regulating blood pressure, boosting muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones which regulate your appetite.
Nicola added: “I’m constantly urging my clients to take time for themselves, to take a long bath, go to bed earlier, go for a walk or a jog and switch off their phones for a while. Having a strong sense of purpose, a hobby or sport that we love or showing kindness to others is an incredible mood-booster.”
Research shows that people with a strong sense of purpose sleep better and enjoy significantly better health compared to those that don’t. They’re also less likely to develop heart disease, strokes and depression.
Nicola has built a wealth of experience on nutrition and works with clients to improve their gut health. She added: “Feeling bored, hungry and fed up with eating won’t boost your wellbeing! Rather than prescribing restrictive calorie counting diets, I help clients find food which are rich in nutrients and tasty.”
For more information, advice on improving your mental health or for links to organisations which can help, visit www.mind.org.uk
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019.
Human interaction can be so restorative.
Posted 8th March 2019