If you’re struggling with your mental health lately, you’re not alone. I have seen a significant increase in patients with anxiety and depression in the past few months. As we head into winter and ride out the second wave, it’s important to be self-aware and proactive about how we’re feeling.
It might be a good time to check in with yourself:
- Are you feeling anxious, overly worried, or have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns?
- Do you feel depressed, sad, hopeless, or a loss of joy in things you used to find joy in?
If you’re not answering yes to the above, I still think it’s important for all of us to be aware of how we can support our mood in the coming months.
Step 1: Reach out for support
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s time to reach out to your MD, ND, and/or therapist. They can discuss options like talk therapy, medications, nutrition and/or supplements to support your mood.
If you’re not quite ready for that, a great first step is to reach out to a friend or family member and share how you are feeling. Feeling heard and supported by loved ones is cathartic, and it helps remind us that we are not alone.
Step 2: Eat more protein
Serotonin and dopamine, our happy, reward, and anti-anxiety hormones, are made from protein. Protein is unique because we can’t make it from fat or carbs. We have to eat it in order to have enough to build serotonin and dopamine to support our mood.
Aim for at least 0.8g of protein per kilogram of your body weight each day. Two simple tricks are to add unflavoured collagen powder to your coffee (10g of protein) and a generous scoop of hemp hearts to all your meals.
Step 3: Move your body
Research shows that exercise improves mental health. It also improves self-esteem, motivation, sex drive, and cognitive function. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity (brisk walking counts!), 3x per week.
Step 4: Take your vitamin D
Every Canadian adult needs to take 1000 IU of vitamin D daily during the winter to help prevent seasonal depression. Take your vitamin D, please!
Step 5: Reduce Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant, and it makes it challenging for us to regulate our emotions. It also makes sleep less restful, and it can trigger anxiety the next day.
Bring extra awareness to your alcohol intake as it relates to your mood, especially the following day. If you have a drink with dinner every night, try a week without it and see how you feel.
Step 6: Motivation & Accountability
Mental health challenges make us feel less motivated to do the things we know will help us feel better. So, start small, and pick one thing on this list to do today. Tomorrow you might feel ready to try two things, and so on.
Once we start to feel better we sometimes let our healthy habits fall by the wayside, and the anxiety and low mood return. Set up some accountability to keep you on track.
I use dry erase markers on my bathroom mirror to check off a list of goals each day: chat with a friend, meditate, supplements, eat well, bedtime routine, exercise. You could also ask your partner or friend to check-in to keep you on track, or book regular visits with your ND or therapist.
Final thought: Even though we’re all stressed with living through this strange time, it doesn’t make your stress, anxiety or depression any less important. Please reach out if you need support.
Book an appointment to address your mental wellbeing here.