At Hope Foods, we aspire to manifest hope by providing tools that support your mental well-being. Our on-site, certified Integrated Nutrition Health Coach and Mental Health First Responder and Trainer curated the tools below to support you in your mental health journey. Each of these practices are proven to have a positive effect on mental well-being, so keep scrolling to learn more!
Breath & Anxiety
Mood & Food
*Please note, these are tools you can use to improve your mental well-being; if you are experiencing a mental health crisis please call the National Suicide hotline at 800.273.8255 to connect to ongoing, professional support.
Ever have a day that you feel so great, you feel like you can handle anything? It’s likely because you have filled your cup with good things – like friends, laughter, relaxation, good sleep, love, and nutritious food. Think of your mood as a sponge; it needs regular doses of goodness to stay positive, fresh, and pliable. When you’re “running low” or “dried up”, your mood is more likely to absorb negativity…could be a partner’s bad mood, a colleague’s frustration, or the weight of the world.
Tools for Self-Care:
Practicing breathwork daily (multiple times daily if you are under a lot of stress) is a great way to support your mental wellbeing. Lengthening and deepening your breath causes your mind and body to relax by cueing the parasympathetic nervous system. When this system is triggered, blood flow changes, the body’s preparation for a fight or flight ceases, and thoughts become clearer.
One of the easiest breathwork practices is simply inhaling to the count of 4, holding for a beat, and exhaling to the count of 4. We love doing this just before bed instead of turning to our phone or TV screens. If you are prone to waking up in the middle of the night, just repeat this process and your body will head back to la-la-land in no time.
Mindfulness is simply focusing on one present thing at a time. Practicing mindfulness has a powerful impact on mental wellbeing and acuity: breath slows, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, and our minds and bodies relax. Meditation is just one way to develop a mindfulness practice. Here are some ways you can incorporate mindfulness into each and every day.
One of the best ways to diffuse stress and negative energy is to move your body regularly. Most people assume movement means “exercise”; and the more grueling the better. Spending time doing anything that you loathe in the name of “health” is counterproductive. Instead, identify the types of movement that make you feel good – that you WANT to do – and do that every day. Let the runners run and the weightlifters lift. YOU DO YOU, FULL STOP.
If walking is your jam, get up 10 minutes earlier or take a 10 minute walk before you head home from work. Do walking meetings. Try “forest bathing”. Park in the farthest part of the parking lot. If you like to dance, throw yourself a 5 minute dance party in the morning to get your energy flowing. If you are working on your breathwork and mindfulness, try yoga – it’s free, safe, and accessible to everyone. Neat freaks? Vacuuming, dusting, changing sheets, and running laundry up and down the stairs are all forms of movement. Crank your tunes, maybe put a pep in your step, and you are moving in the right direction.
We all need human contact. Unfortunately, we’re all getting less and less of it…social-distancing mandates, contact-less ordering, riding the subway with headphones on… Building a tribe of at least 10 people that support and care about you is critical to your mental health. Take stock of who is truly in your corner and seek out others from work, church, the gym, clubs, etc. Set up regular check ins, go for a quick walk around the block after work, or schedule a night out.
Not comfortable with that? Then up your contact with strangers at low risk times. Pay a stranger a compliment. Offer your seat to someone on the subway/bus. Pick up the coffee order for the car behind you. These random acts of connection will make both of you feel more joyful more often.
Expressing gratitude is a powerful way to manage your outlook. Acknowledge the things that are awesome in your day, even if some crappy things happened. Give yourself a time limit to stew on the challenging bits and then focus on the things that went right. Gratitude journals are a great way to keep track of the “good stuff” and are a great reference when you are feeling down in the dumps. Asking each member of your family or people you live with to identify the “one good thing” about their day is a great way to prioritize all the good in our lives. You can do it on the drive home, to soccer practice, at dinner, before bed, at the start of team meetings at work, book club, etc.
Did you know that up to 90% of serotonin (your body’s chemical to manage moods) is regulated by the gut? If you are filling your body with toxins – sugars, processed foods, alcohol, foods that create inflammation for YOU – and not enough nutrients from natural sources (especially vegetables!), your GI tract cannot function properly. Understanding the gut-brain axis, and how food affects your mood, is another way to optimize your mental well-being. Eat plants, more plants, and mostly green plants to give your body the greatest access to the nutrients it needs to operate at its best.
Take Care of Yourself
We hope you picked up a few tips for your mental health. Feel free to share with friends and family. It’s okay not to be okay. As always…we’re rooting for you.