Food & Drink
Feeling content – meeting your physical needs
If you or your young people are having mood swings, feeling irritable, cross and impatient or having low moods, why don’t you try meeting your physical needs to improve wellbeing?
Food and Drink
Do I need some Food and Drink that is good for my mind and body?
What kinds of Food and Drink should I choose to help me to stay well?
Regular, balanced meals and snacks as well as enough water to make our pee a pale yellow can help to regulate our moods. When we have large amounts of sugary foods or drinks, it can make us feel a rush of energy at the time, but later it leads to a crash. This makes us reach for more sugar, creating a cycle of highs and lows that can be hard to manage. Making and sharing food that nourishes our bodies can be a good way to meet lots of emotional needs at the same time. Be aware of reaching for treat foods when your mood is low- try and find another way to meet your needs and improve your mood.
Three things to do now to help bring you back to wellbeing:
- Drink water
- Eat a balanced meal or snack
- Prepare some food together to share
Sometimes, even when we think we are getting enough sleep, we are not getting the right kind of sleep. Make sure you are ready for sleep by having a bedtime routine, no matter how old you are!
The two kinds of sleep we need to make sure we have had the right amounts of are deep sleep and REM or dreaming sleep. Deep sleep repairs our minds and bodies, and REM sleep helps us to switch off emotions from the day before.
To get the right kinds of sleep, make sure you have a good bedtime environment, a relaxing routine before bed, and have had time during the day to process any thoughts or talk about them so that you don’t take them to bed with you! A really good way to do this is to do something quiet and away from screens before getting ready for your bedtime routine, like drawing or playing with toys.
Three things to do now to help bring you back to wellbeing:
- Make sure your bedroom is ready for bedtime
- Switch off screens a while before bed
- Make a routine that makes you feel ready for sleep.
Moving our bodies helps us to release chemicals called endorphins, which come with feeling good, and burn off unhealthy amounts of stress hormones called cortisol which can make us feel tense. Moving our bodies in a way that feels good to us and we enjoy helps us to protect our brains. If we have a low mood, the first we can do is to move. We need to raise our heart and lung rate to help protect our brain and bring us back into wellbeing. Moving can be chasing each other round the park, inventing a dance routine at home or playing a game with a ball!
Three things to do now to help bring you back into wellbeing:
- Find new ways to move around outside with a ball, on your way to school or at home to music!
- If you feel you have been in one place for a long time, find ways to move to get the energy flowing around your body, your heart rate up and your lungs to work a bit harder for a few minutes!
- Make sure you enjoy moving- so do something FUN! Finding someone or a group to move with can be motivating and make it more fun, as well as meeting your needs for connection or community!
To find out more about how Suffolk Mind can help you and your young person, visit our EARLY Minds page.
Author: Beren Reid
How to meet your need for Food & Drink
We all know a balanced diet keeps our bodies healthy but did you know it also affects our emotional health? Being confined to our homes puts us out of our normal routine, which is having a huge impact on what we eat and drink.
So what do we need to know?
With shopping restricted, you might think we would all be eating less and carefully farming our resources, but if social media is anything to go by, we are eating more than ever. Whether it’s snacking while we work, baking with the kids, or just having the freedom to visit the fridge whenever we like, it seems that the nation is trying to eat its way through social isolation. We need to be careful not to use food to try to meet other emotional needs, which in the long run could make us feel a lot worse.
Humans have an instinct to use food to help manage our mood. That magic combination of fat and carbohydrate is hardwired to give us a sense of security, stemming back to earlier times when such food was scarce. But this can create a vicious cycle where we overdose on sugar, feel a temporary high, and then fall into a slump and need to self-medicate with more. This becomes a habit, creating a pattern match that gives us the expectation of having food to hand at all times.
It’s not just food; what we drink makes a difference too.
Caffeine affects our sleep, and high doses will also produce the same physical symptoms as anxiety – raised pulse, rapid breathing, etc – and where our body goes, our brains often follow. It seems we are also turning to alcohol to try to reduce our stress. While an occasional drink is usually fine, habitual drinking for stress means we sidestep better and healthier ways to meet our emotional needs.
So, here are some tips on how to meet our need for food and drink in a healthy way:
- Have a clear routine that doesn’t include snacking. If you didn’t snack at work, don’t snack at home!
- Don’t eat straight from the packet. Put biscuits or crisps on a plate and allocate how many you want.
- If you want a treat, stop, take time and really enjoy it. Taking pleasure in our food and drink is a wonderful thing, so pay attention to it.
- While working from home the advice is to get washed and dressed as normal. This doesn’t just help us feel more professional; if we are putting on work clothes rather than trackies we will soon see whether they still fit!
- Make time to meet your need for movement. If you are moving less than before, you will need to eat less too.
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption to help maintain good quality sleep.
- Take time to prepare your food to enjoy the process, not just the outcome. This will also meet your need for achievement.
- Check in with all your emotional needs. Suffolk Mind has lots of tips for meeting each need during this strange time. That way you can keep food and drink for what it’s for – good nutrition, a pleasurable activity and something to nourish and sustain.
Our Workplace Wellbeing Trainer, Steve Peck offers some advice on how to use food to stay well during Covid-19:
Author: Ellie Winch