Immune health might be the buzz right now, but mental health is equally as important

September 6, 2021

Hopefully as we head into the autumn, we are all able to get back to doing the things we love and taking part in all the things that we have missed out on. The lockdowns and whole pandemic has taken it’s toll on many of us in varying degrees and it will take a fair amount of time to get back to what we remember as normal.

Although immune health might seem the obvious area for everyone at the moment, a lot of research and surveys are suggesting that mental heal issues are often a bigger concern for many of us. Whether it is anxiety about job security and changes or children unsure of what the new school year will bring, there are all sorts of areas that could be causing us anxiety or worry.

Immune health might be the buzz right now, but mental health is equally as important in the current times.

It is important to remember that if you are affected mentally by aspects of the pandemic, that you are not alone and that it is okay not to be okay as the popular phrase says. There are plenty of areas that can help support you through this, many accessible online. Which is great if you are feeling that you really don’t want to go out and face the world right now. MIND is a charity that supports those with mental health issues and also their families, they even have a resource page covering areas that relate specifically to COVID-19. They even have a section for employers with tips for supporting themselves and their staff. As September sees the International Week of Happiness at Work on the 20th, it could be a good time to encourage your colleagues to think about how you can all make the workplace a better place to be.

We spend a vast amount of our time at work. International Happiness at Work Week aims to make sure we do all we can to make it a good place to be.

Perhaps you have got into the habit of extra cups of coffee every day while working practices have been different, too much caffeine can make you feel edgy and reduce the quality of your sleep. At work or at home, why not make a switch to herbal teas or infusions. You might find that you get to enjoy one really good cup of coffee a day, far more than endless ones that have become a habit. Reducing caffeine intake can make you feel a little irritable or have headaches, especially if you reduce the intake quickly. Your body is going through a bit of a withdrawal and will take time to adjust.

Drink plenty of water and if you feel particularly edgy or tense, think about taking a B complex supplement that can help support the function of the immune system. B vitamins are needed not only by the nervous system, but can also help reduce tiredness and fatigue. Being water soluble, we don’t store them in the body, so look for foods rich in B vitamins and consider a supplement. Wholegrains, eggs, beans and pulses even avocados, can be used as a daily source.

Enjoy one or two really good cups of coffee a day rather than endless cups without thinking about it.

September also sees Migraine Awareness. Run by the Migraine Trust, it seeks to raise awareness and improve access to treatment for sufferers. Migraines are far more than a bad headache and can create disturbances in the vision, nausea and fatigue as well as becoming hypersensitive to light and sound. Although it is not fully understood what causes a migraine, it is known that there are a number of triggers. These can be food related, stress related and even a change in the weather for some people.

Whilst we can’t alter the weather, we can try to identify what foods might trigger a migraine. It could be caffeine or chocolate, for others it might be a strong cheese. Keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks can help you identify what you ate on the day you had a migraine, then you can test out whether your attacks decrease if you cut out that food.

For many people, they are caused by stress and tension, particularly if the neck and shoulder muscles are tense. Regular massages may help, or simply making sure that you lower your shoulders from time to time, especially if you are driving or sitting for long periods of time.

Migraines can be triggered by a number of foods, keeping a food diary can help you identify what may be the culprit.

Magnesium supplements are helpful for muscle tension and also needed by the nervous system to maintain balance. If you find you have trouble relaxing at bedtime and your mind keeps running over the day, take a magnesium supplement about an hour before going to bed. You can also try Lavender essential oil in a bath or a massage balm just before bed.

Magnesium works well with B vitamins, in fact B6 helps you absorb the magnesium, so a combination of those two can be a useful addition to your daily regime.

Whether you are experiencing a specific issue or simple feel that you can’t unwind and switch off, the aforementioned B vitamins and magnesium can be helpful as can the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid helps to calm and relax without making you feel drowsy or sleepy. Taken as a supplement, many people find they feel calmer, but still focussed.

As always, a varied and healthy diet along with simple exercise such as walking in the fresh air for half an hour a day, can make a big difference. Try not to overload your system with too many refined sugars, caffeine and processed foods. Fill up with healthy wholegrains, snack on fresh fruit, nuts and seeds and eat mindfully—that is, try and take a break from what you are doing and actually concentrate on your food. Keep hydrated with water, fruit infusions or herbal teas and get some fresh air every day.

The other great stress buster is having a good laugh, you might like to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on the 19th! Sometimes, we all need a little bit of fun!

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