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3. Part 1 - The core pillars of supporting your mental health and wellbeing

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Listen on Spotify Podcasts here.

In today's episode, I discuss:

  • The mind-body connection

  • The first 4 of 7 core pillars of supporting your mental health and wellbeing.

  • The 1st pillar, nourishment. This is starting at the basics of water intake and food. I also share how drinking filtered water has changed my life.

  • The 2nd pillar, movement. This is diving into gentle and regular exercise.

  • The 3rd pillar, sleep. This is looking at the importance of quality and consistent sleep. I also discuss NREM & REM sleep activity.

  • The 4th pillar, environment. This pillar is about getting fresh air and sunshine every single day.

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Mindful Soul Collective Podcast, a safe space for your healing.

I'm your host Shorina, a counsellor, well-being coach, multi-biz owner and mum.

I'm here to talk all things mind, body and soul. You can expect conversations on mental health, mindfulness, mindset, healing and whole body wellness.

I've completely redefined my relationship to myself and to my life.

And now it's your turn.

I'm so excited you're here. Let's get into today's episode.

Hello and welcome back to the podcast.

Today I am really wanting to go back to the very basics of supporting our mental health

and our well-being. And with that in mind over this week's episode and next week's episode, I'm going to be discussing the seven core pillars of mental health and well-being.

These are things that I personally prioritize in my life, I ensure it's prioritized in

my family and kids' lives and I also encourage all of my clients to prioritize it in their

lives as well. This is actually what I first speak about with clients in our one-on-one sessions because it is so important.

I'm going to be sharing some pretty outstanding stats with you throughout some of these pillars as well and in all honesty a lot of this stuff can seem somewhat obvious.

It's things that we know that we just don't implement. It's also the first things that we let slip when we're having an off day or an off week. And because this is the very beginning of my podcast, it makes sense to start at the very basics.

Before we get going into each individual pillar, I do want to mention that this is something

I explore in depth with clients. But I'll just be touching on them briefly today and next week because as individuals, we do have such different lifestyles that is going to impact the pillars. So the information on these episodes is just general in nature and it's not personalised in any way to you.

And as a loving side note, I do have an ebook available on the pillars as well. So you can purchase that for 25% off with the discount code podcast. I'll pop the link in the show notes and I will mention it's a slightly different setup than the pillars that I'm going to be sharing on the podcast and slightly different content. Some of it is the same, but it's incredibly valuable for anybody who has no idea where to start and it's in an easy and beautiful and super easy way to digest and it's all in one place. So it's a great place to start if you're just new to your journey.

Before we get into the pillars, I wanted to chat about the mind body connection.

So I'm sure that we've all heard that exercise is good for our mind, but the connection of

our mind and our body is so much deeper than that. While the mind and body are often treated as two separate parts of us, they are actually incredibly connected. And this is what a lot of people refer to as a mind body connection. Our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and attitudes directly affect our biological function, either positively or negatively.

And on the flip side, how we care for our physical body is going to impact our mental

state. The mind body connection goes both ways, but when we seek therapy and see a psychologist, a lot of the time, the therapist is actually usually skip over this stuff.

I wanted to share a couple of examples of the mind body connection with you so you can get an easy look as to how they're connected and why it's so important.

So if we look at the body to the mind, if we have a well-balanced diet, we're going

to feel energized and just in general, good within our bodies, right?

This is going to improve our gut health and in return, help our serotonin to work properly,

as that's mostly housed in our gut. And as we know, serotonin helps us to feel happy.

On the other end of things, looking at our mind to our body, if our body is under chronic

stress, it's going to put our nervous system into a sympathetic state, which under a lot

of intense pressure can cause hormonal imbalances, lower serotonin levels, and possibly even cause damage to our immune systems.

So chronic stress can also cause fatigue, muscle tension, digestive issues, and migraines.

There is still heaps of study to do and lots of things to explore, but there's no doubt

that when we take care of our physical health, it's going to impact our mental health and

vice versa.

So the first thing I want to talk about is nourishment. And with nourishment, I'm talking about water intake and food intake. So we're going to start at the real basics, your water intake.

A large study of 3,327 adults found that people who drink five cups or more of water per day were at a lower risk of depression and anxiety. I got there.

In comparison, people who drink two cups or less doubles the risk of getting depression

or feeling depression and anxiety. So researchers have also found that when we drink lots of water and then suddenly stop drinking as much, we're going to feel less calm, more stressed.

Another study showed that less than ideal emotions such as confusion or anger or frustration are found to increase with dehydration and fatigue is also more likely to be experienced. We know that our brain is made up of around 75% of water. So when we're dehydrated, our brain is not going to produce as much energy or serotonin. And then that dehydration can also change our brain structure causing our brain to slow down and not function as it should. With that information in mind, when we are dehydrated, our body is also going to survival mode. It tries to hang on to all of the water it can and that's going to cause more anxiety. Serotonin would usually calm us down, but if our brain isn't able to function properly because we're dehydrated, we're creating less serotonin, so we can't come down.

There's also evidence showing that water and dehydration is directly connected to our mental health issues.

Now when we're talking about water intake, one of the main questions is how much should I be drinking? Growing up, we're in Australia, we're told we should drink around 8 cups of water a day. The Australian government recommends 2 litres of water for women and 2.5 litres for men. And if you're exercising, if it's super hot or maybe if you're pregnant and some medications, do require you to increase water intake as well. So keep that in mind, chat with your doctor if you're not sure of course. Something else to keep in mind as well is the quality of water you're drinking. In Australia, we definitely have a lot better water quality than other countries, but through my own studies and personal experience, I have found that filtered water has amazing benefits and I don't think I will ever go back in saying that. I don't just buy 100 bottles of water at the shops every week, I have a water filter that I keep in my fridge.

So I actually recently went to a specialist to discuss a minor surgery and he had a copy

of all of my medical history and I walked in, we spoke about the minor surgery, all good,

I'm totally fine, don't stress. But then he turned around and he said, I have the answer to all of your problems. And I said, what are you talking about? And he said to me, do you drink tap water? I said, yeah, I drink heaps of water.

Like if you're going to tell me to drink more water, I don't think I could possibly drink more water. And he said, no, the issue isn't how much water you're drinking, the issue is what kind of water you're drinking and you should change to filtered water. And in my time, you've definitely heard and read and you know, a lot of people do say change to filtered water and completely honest with you. I just thought it was like some sort of gimmick. Like this doctor said that changing to filtered water was going to change all of my lack

and resolve all of my issues. So I was like, oh, sure, let's give it a go.

I am not exaggerating at all. Within a couple of weeks, I'd say about three weeks, maybe four weeks, all of my symptoms were starting to improve and all I had changed was switching to filtered water. I was experiencing brain fog, exhaustion and afternoon crashes, they were all gone. My dry skin and hair loss was resolved. And my biggest issue, I want to use that word, biggest issue for me that I had experienced four years, literally probably four or five years of chronic constipation was also resolved. If you take anything from this water section, it is just to drink more filtered water.

Similarly to water, we also know that we need to be eating healthy. I know a lot of us don't prioritise it, as we should. And that includes me. Some days I still don't eat healthy.

You know, we're human, there needs to be a balance, which I'll probably do an episode

soon on balance because we don't want to just go 100% healthy all of the time because you will crash.

So if we think about how much work our brains are doing for us, we're going to recognise

that it is always on. Our brain is always working for us. And the foods that we eat, act as kind of like, imagine it like fuel for your brain. So the type of food we're going to eat is going to make a big difference. Eating high quality, nutritious foods filled with loads of vitamins and minerals are going to nourish our brain and will positively impact the structure and the function along with our mood.

And less than ideal diet can cause fatigue, impaired decision making, and it could even

lead to stress and depression. Now I found this incredible study, an information from a lady at Harvard Health. I'm going to try and pronounce her name, but I have no idea how to pronounce her name, so I'm hoping I say it right. But this following paragraph is from Eva Selhub at Harvard Health. So she wrote, studies have compared traditional diets like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet to a typical Western diet and has shown that the risk of depression is 25 to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet.

Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in

vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish, seafood, and they contain only a little bit

of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are actually staples of the Western diet. In addition, many of these foods, these unprocessed foods I mean, are fermented and therefore natural probiotics. So she wrote an incredible article about this, if you're interested, just look up her name, Eva Selhub.

Super interesting. Now in regards to what we should eat, I don't think it's possible for me to provide a one-size-fits-all diet here.

And I don't even want to try to tell you what that perfect diet is because we need to take

time and determine how different foods make us feel as individuals. So my recommendation is to spend a few weeks testing the waters, paying attention to how

your body and your mood reacts when you eat certain foods. As a general basis, though, I will recommend that some of the following foods are really great for your mental health.

So they include fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds,

what else, like lentils, beans, that sort of thing.

The second pillar that I'm going to move on to is movement. Now, if you've been listening to my podcast since I started, I have spoken about movement in the sense that it is the same as exercise. However, I prefer to use term movement instead of exercise because of what society has defined exercise as. So exercise is defined as an activity requiring physical effort carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness, which to me is things like running and weightlifting and spin classes.

But that's also not how I personally define movement. My definition of movement is an activity that involves the physical aspect of our bodies that helps us to feel good. So for me, this could look like slow walks around my neighborhood or kicking the ball in the backyard with my kids, it could be yoga or simple stretching, dancing at home, that I will admit that higher intensity of intensity exercise can be more beneficial for some people with mental health.

So that is important to keep in mind as well.

Movement and exercise has loads of benefits for not only our physical health, but our

mental health as well. So many, many, many studies have shown that movement is proved to reduce anxiety and depression because exercise releases endorphins and serotonin that is going to improve your mood and also offers a time and a place for you to take your mind off of everything happening in your day to day life. Moving your body regularly can benefit you by increasing your confidence, allowing more social interaction, it provides a super healthy coping mechanism if you feel you need one, it helps you feel better and lowers the risk of illnesses.

So regular movement can also help you to sleep better, which is actually our next pillar.

So I'll get into that in a minute.

It can increase energy levels and reduce muscle tension within your body. So one of the age old questions is how much movement should we be doing? So again, I'll be speaking in terms of the Australian recommendations that adults should be active most days with two and a half to five hours of moderate exercise per week or one hour and 15 minutes to two and a half hours of intense activity per week. In saying this though. Any exercise of movement is better than none. And depending on what season of life you're in, maybe there's only time for one workout a week at this stage and that's okay.

Find what's going to work for you right now in this season of life. And remember that activity is like playing with your kids, cleaning the house or just simple stretches in the morning is considered as movement as well and they have beautiful benefits too.

The third pillar we're going to get into is sleep and not just any sleep but quality

sleep. So getting quality sleep is life changing.

Just like charging our phones, we need to recharge and reset our brains to be able to

function properly. There's a very close relationship between sleep and mental health. Poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health, but mental health can also

negatively impact your sleep, which is frustrating. Our brain activity increases and decreases throughout different sleep cycles. So in non-rapid eye movement sleep, our brain activity is typically quite slow with some quick bursts of energy. Whereas in rapid eye movement sleep, our brain activity is usually quite rapid and this is when we're usually having quite intense dreams. So both stages of sleep play a role in our brain health and helps with better thinking, learning and our memory.

Recent studies have also shown that brain activity during sleep has a big impact on our emotional and mental health. Quality sleep and usually during our rapid eye movement sleep, our brain is processing emotional information. It tries to remember and evaluate thoughts and memories from the day, or even from the past.

So lack of sleep negatively impacts and can even be seen as quite harmful to processing

those emotions. This also directly impacts our mood and has been connected to mental health issues as well as how severe they are.

So while there is definitely more research needed in this area specifically of sleep, there is evidence showing the link between our sleep and our quality of sleep and our mental health state. So as a quick general guide of some ideas to help improve your sleep, you can avoid alcohol and caffeine and smoking in the evening and afternoon. You can dim the lights and stop using your phone or TV an hour before bed. You can block our excess light and sounds. You can try meditating before bed and try and aim to get the same amount of sleep each night as well.

So the fourth pillar and the final pillar I'm going to be discussing today is our environment.

This is looking at things like fresh air and sunshine. There are lots of ways spending time outside is beneficial for your mental health. It can improve your mood. It can reduce feelings of stress and anger. It helps us to relax. It improves confidence and self esteem. It can help you reconnect to yourself and it can also reduce feelings of loneliness too. Research is continually proving that the benefits are often related to how our senses help us to connect to the environment around us. So before moving on, I do want to note that it's important that spending time outdoors doesn't just mean exercising. It can also refer to things like gardening or going to the beach or sitting in a park or playing with our kids outside. It could be like going to watch the local footy game. It doesn't have to be a walk outside and I want to make that really clear.

A study in Japan included 155 people. 37% of those people had depressive tendencies.

Researchers have shown that after spending time outdoors, people with symptoms of depression scored significantly higher on the mood tests that they did before spending time outdoors, which pretty much ultimately shows that they were happier. Researchers have shown that being in nature can restore and strengthen our mental capacities and increase focus and attention.

Researchers have also found that spending time outdoors boosts our physical health in

a number of ways as well while also lowering our stress hormones. So in short, spend more time outside, fresh air, sunshine, every single day when you can.

My favourite thing to do is actually in between clients. If I have clients during the day, I go and stand outside for a couple of minutes. So just a couple of minutes, a few times a day, first thing in the morning is more beneficial if you can do that, but I know that's not always possible. So just do what you can.

Now I know there has been heaps of information shared today.

Lots of stats, lots of tips, and I hope I didn't overload you.

In next week's episode, we're going to be exploring the final pillars of mental health

and wellbeing.

So make sure you follow the show and check in next week.

And if you would love some of this info in the neat and tidy little ebook to print out

or share with loved ones, head to my show notes and purchase your copy of my ebook.

Lots and lots of love, thank you for listening and I will chat with you next week.

Bye bye.

With love & support,

Shorina | Mindful Soul Collective

Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach


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