This time of year can be a challenge at the best of times, but perhaps never more so than in 2021. 24 hour news cycles, lockdown, loss of routine and a life outside of the home has led so many to reckon with their own mental wellbeing. Everyone has mental health that needs care like physical health.
Natural Fit Club has always been about encouraging balance between physical and mental wellness. We believe that your mind and body are connected, and living well is about restoring balance and fostering connection.
So how can you do this when we all need it now more than ever?
Let’s break it down. Healthy mental resilience is supported by 5 pillars:
We believe that your mind and body are connected, and living well is about restoring balance and fostering connection.
It’s beyond cliché, but you really are what you eat! Serotonin is a hormone that is well known for regulating mood, relaxation, stress-management and happiness levels, as well as muscular performance, bone health and your sleep patterns. Lack of serotonin the lead contributor of depression.
But did you know that 90% of your serotonin lives in your gut? This is a good part of why good gut health is so vital, and this is completely dictated by the range of nutrients in your food on a daily basis. Too many ultra-processed foods like sweets, savoury snacks and fast food wreak havoc on gut flora and cause hormonal imbalance that will affect your mood, whereas foods like pro-biotic yoghurts, fresh fruit and veg and wholefoods create a natural happy hormone factory right in your gut!
We all know how grumpy and sluggish we feel after a bad night’s sleep. The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that more than 35% of people could be classed as sleep deprived, meaning that approximately 1 in 3 aren’t getting enough sleep on a chronic basis. With lockdown, ‘sleep inertia’ has increased as people are feeling groggy and disengaged all day without enough structure or stimulation to restore a sense of natural rhythm, and this continues into the night leading to poor sleep quality.
‘Sleep hygiene’ is crucial to good sleep. We’ve written about this in more detail here.
In fact, while we’re here, let’s talk exercise! Keeping the body fit isn’t just about looking good or making a good 5k; regular exercise is the backbone of robust mental health. Endorphins after exercise not only set you up for a ‘high’ for the rest of your day, but also for structured, restorative sleep and regulated stress levels thanks to a release in cortisol. Consistent exercise also increases those serotonin levels we talked about earlier, helping you balance your mood and emotions long-term.
It’s not all plans, training and discipline. Without unwinding and indulging in some real self-care, the mind does not get the space it needs to feel the benefits of eating, sleeping and moving well. This can be as simple as taking a moment to drink a cup of tea with a book in quiet peace, or it may be prioritising a few minutes a day to practise meditation or yoga. Apps like Headspace offer a whole range of quick one-off meditations as well as courses to help you manage tension or anxieties, or you can practise simple mindfulness on a walk without a phone or music.
One of the big challenges of this time is being unable to meet with friends and loved ones as we would like, but finding a way to keep up this kind of social connection is vital for wellbeing. Humans are social creatures by nature, so this time of working from home and distancing rules has been particularly difficult for us all.
Fighting off the Zoom fatigue and scheduling a time to have quality conversation with distant friends or families via video can do the world of good. Remember that we can still take outdoor walks with one person from another household, and support is only ever a phone call away.
This time is temporary, and we will be able to get back to the lifestyles we enjoy soon. Building up your mental health ‘pillars’ in a way that works best for you is the first step to mental health resilience, and will empower you to adapt to changes beyond your control.
Let us help. Membership to Natural Fit Club gives you unlimited access to bespoke exercise training to suit your body, a tranquil spa in the heart of town equipped with a luxurious heated swimming pool, hydropool, sauna, steam room and treatments, a health-inspired café and a team of experienced trainers on hand at all times to guide and support you.