Written by Dr. Courtney Ranieri, ND
No matter where you are in your health journey, checking in on your mental wellness is a top priority. It’s easy to let the stresses of life catch up to you, but making small and simple changes to your nutrition, lifestyle and sleep routines can help you optimize your mental wellness and clarity.
1.) Fuel your brain with high protein foods and healthy fats
- Your brain is made up of nearly 60% fat! Upping your protein and healthy fat intake helps to keep your energy high, mood balanced and manage hunger.
- Try to fill your fridge with nutrient-dense foods to power you through your day:
- A quality protein powder, sweet potatoes, quinoa, berries, vegetables, eggs, oatmeal, nuts and seeds, protein, and nut butters, dates, beans and avocado are all great options.
2.) Try not to eat irregularly or skip meals
- Going too long between meals, or eating sugar and carb-laden foods can lead to blood sugar dips. These crashes often leave us feeling stressed, anxious, lacking mental clarity, tired and ’hangry’.
- Try eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours.
- Avoid high carb foods like granola bars and muffins and reach for high protein and fats to avoid blood sugar dips and keep your mental clarity high.
- 3.) Make movement part of your daily routine Exercise has been shown time and time again to improve feelings of depression, anxiety, brain fog and stress and can even improve memory and increase brain size.
- Tips to sneak in more movement:
- Research has shown that you get the same benefits from exercise even if you break it up into more manageable chunks. Try fitting in 10 minutes where you can through the day. Even 1 hour of exercise per week can help decrease feelings of depression.
- Make exercise part of your daily routine. Go for a walk outside, try an at-home workout video or take the stairs at work.
- Do activities that make exercise fun! Find a workout you love or try a new fitness class with your friend.
4.) Sleep, sleep, sleep!
- Research has consistently shown that inadequate sleep increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and can decrease mental clarity, wellness and functioning.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Avoid screens, exercise and other stimulatory activities before bed.
- Try taking a warm bath or doing a quiet activity before bed to help you get into a deep, restorative sleep.
5.) Check in with how you’re feeling throughout the day.
- Probably the most important thing you can do is to check in with your mental and emotional wellness throughout the day. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel overwhelmed? If so, take a minute to practice some deep breathing or throw on a quick, guided meditation (my favourite!).
- Have I eaten in the last 3 hours? If not, try having a protein-rich snack (or shake).
- Did I sleep enough last night? If not, try taking a quick rest or nap.
- Do I have too much on my to-do list? If so, take a step back and cross off some things that aren’t urgent.
- Have I moved my body yet today? If not, take a 10 minute break to go for a walk or do some simple body weight exercises.
Don’t overlook other symptoms. If you feel like you’re experiencing decreases in your mental wellness or clarity more often, it might be time to dive a little deeper. Check in with a practitioner who can help you personalize and optimize your health.
Dr. Courtney Ranieri is a Naturopathic Doctor in the GTA who is passionate about health and wellness. Check outwww.drcourtneyranierind.comfor more information.