Sunday, December 25, 2011

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself


30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.
As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
  2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
  3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
  16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
  18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
  28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sour and suspicious


I have been married for five years. All this while, I was never really happy with my marriage although I do love my husband very much.
We used to quarrel a lot because my husband cares for his own needs and happiness, and puts his friends as his main priority. He would tell me lies and neglect me just to be with them.
I don’t think I could ever forget those lies because it involved a third party on two occasions.
I know she was up to no good but my husband didn’t try to understand me and continued chatting with her every day on the net.
He promised me he would never go beyond that. But after some arguments I found out he has called her on the phone to chat even though he says he treats her as a normal friend.
I tried so hard all by myself to guard this marriage from troublesome third parties. Although it was in the past I still remember how he lied and how I relied on my own sixth sense to find out what was going on.
Both girls pretended in front of me as if they didn’t keep in touch with my husband even though I knew they did.
As a wife, I forgave him for his lies each time when I found out about them but he never showed remorse nor felt regret.
I have tried to be very patient although at times I feel so lost. I always believe that if I love him with all my heart, then one day, eventually, I will change him to appreciate this marriage and to care for me more.
In the past six months I can feel that things have improved. He no longer neglects me for his friends and I told myself that I shouldn’t always see the bad side of him.
I have found some small good points in him too..
He cares for my family, remembers our anniversary, brings me travelling around the world and buys me whatever I need whether it’s cheap or expensive.
However I feel that I have lost trust in him. I still check on his things as I am afraid that history will repeat itself. I have also lost my self confidence and it is affecting my daily life and thinking.
I blame myself for not being pretty or attractive enough. Sometimes when my husband praises other girls I will feel very low and ugly.
I don’t even want to look at myself in the mirror and I have developed some anger towards pretty or sexy girls.
I feel extremely uncomfortable when he adds pretty girls to his Facebook also. Most of my husband’s colleagues are married with kids and like to visit karaoke joints that have GRO services or even go for prostitutes.
Although he is honest enough to tell me about his colleague’s actions, I feel very worried that one day he will be influenced by them and join in their activities.
These feelings are really killing me inside. I know I should forget about the past but sometimes he just doesn’t make me feel secure.
I don’t feel important in his life. Maybe I am having depression. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep easily. When I do sleep I wish I won’t wake up so soon because it will be just another unmotivating day for me.
I feel lost and don’t know what makes me happy anymore. Sometimes I just hate life because of my marriage, friends, family and my health.
Each time when I see pictures of friends with their new born babies I cry to myself. I really love children but now I doubt I am fit to become a mother as my mind has is full of negative thinking. I have lost faith in things.... http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2011/12/18/lifefocus/10113946&sec=lifefocus
For appointment please call 9810594544 or visit www.thecounselor.info 

Learn to communicate better



"Always speak the truth, since the smallest of lies discredits your words of love or respect." - Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, family and marriage counselor, received the following email.
"We were traveling in the car on our way to a movie. My husband was quiet and smiling smugly. I said, 'What are you thinking?' He replied, 'I was just thinking how critical you are.' 

"My natural instinct was ... well, you know. But I thought, This is a goodwilled man. Maybe he means something else. So I asked, 'What does that mean, that I'm critical?' He replied, 'I mean our family couldn't exist without you. You are so critical to me.'"

Communication skills, or their absence, will make or break a marriage. 

David and Amy Olson, in their book "Empowering Couples: Building on Your Strengths," list five simple suggestions for improving communication skills in marriage.

First of all, focus on the good in each other. It is surprisingly easy to find the qualities in another person that we are looking for. If we are looking for their faults, we will find them; we all have them, so their existence should not be unexpected. 

By the same token, we all have good in us, and we are just hoping someone will see it. We usually make the decision to marry someone because we see positive characteristics that attract us. If things are different after marriage, we need to ask ourselves who changed.

Family expert and researcher John Gottman has found that happy couples, on average, have five times as many positive interactions and expressions as negative interactions and expressions. He refers to this 5-to-1 ratio as "the magic ratio." Although there will always be some negatives, the negativity is outweighed by the positive feelings and actions.

The next suggestion follows right on from the first: whenever we see something good in our spouse, praise them. Frequent and sincere praise is very uplifting to both the one receiving the praise and the one giving it.

Possibly one of the biggest benefits of praise is that it not only affirms the value of the one being praised, it confirms their very existence. Ignoring someone is to treat them very cruely. Even negative comments acknowledge someone's presence. Praise will affirm someone and their value and encourage further positive behavior.

A third suggestion, that we take the time to listen to our spouse, also goes a long way in affirming them. Specifically, listen to understand and not to judge. Then, after listening, tell your spouse what you think you heard before you share your own ideas. Paraphrase their ideas in your own words and attempt to capture their feelings. Remember, although not always rational, feelings are real and we must acknowledge their existence and importance.

Another suggestion is to be assertive. This doesn't mean being aggressive and attacking the other person. The goal here is to express your own ideas and feelings and not disparage or belittle your spouse's feelings and ideas.

Using "I" statements rather "you" statements is one common technique. Let your spouse know what your needs are or what is bothering you - don't let your feelings become a guessing game. Instead of saying, "You never come home for dinner on time," say, "I feel neglected and hurt when I have dinner all ready and then have to wait an unknown length of time for you to eat with me."

Finally, give your relationship the importance and attention you did when you first met. Early in your relationship, certainly before you were married and probably for a short time after marriage, your schedule and behavior underwent major changes to accommodate this special other person.

After marriage, apathy and our old behavior patterns have a way of surfacing. A marriage that brings happiness to both husband and wife requires effort, but there is nothing closer to heaven on earth than a marriage operating according to God's design. VISIT FOR CONSULTATION AND COACHING www.thecounselor.info , contact for appointment 09810594544 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Relationship Coaching or Counseling — Which?



Relationship Coaching or Counseling — Which?
Couples go to counseling to improve their relationship - don't they? Well, not necessarily. Many couples enter counseling so consumed with anger at each other and with what is wrong with their relationship that positive change scarcely enters their minds. They have no vision of a better marriage and consequently no goals that could reorient them in a healing direction.
Unfortunately, so compelling is the temptation to blame the other partner and so intense is the anger and hurt that many couples in counseling never move beyond a negative fixation on all that is wrong with their relationship. They have nowhere positive to go and consequently never get there.
It take a well-trained and forceful couples counselor to insist, after a period of venting, that partners drop their negative focus and start creating a better future together. Unfortunately, counselors who do insist on a positive focus to the work sometimes discover that "getting better together" is not really what couples have in mind. Knowing what you don't like is easy. Changing focus - deciding what you want instead and working toward it - is not easy.
Enter relationship coaching. Coaching is an action-focused process for bringing about change. It emphasizes visioning a desirable future, developing specific goals to realize the vision and committing oneself to the process of achieving those goals.
Asked what they want from counseling, new clients will often reply with a variation of, "I want to understand why we have such an awful marriage." A typical coaching client response would be, "I want to build a better marriage."
Relationship counseling and coaching differ. The difference is more of degree than of kind, however. And some forms of counseling - notably short-term, solutions-oriented counseling - is in practice very much like coaching.
In general, counseling stresses understanding; coaching stresses action. Counseling is more psychological, coaching more behavioral. Feelings are more prominent in counseling. Goals and action steps to achieve them are more important in coaching. Counseling focuses on the past and the present, coaching on the future and the present.
Counseling is more "Why?," coaching more "How?" Counseling is more concerned with obstacles to action, coaching with the action itself. In practice, counseling attends more to problems than to goals and to personal inadequacies more than to strengths. Coaching is the opposite. Counseling is one of the healing arts. Coaching is an educational process. Counseling wants to make well. Coaching wants to make successful.
It follows that coaching and counseling attract different sorts of people, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say - people at different stages of the growth process and, therefore, with different needs. As a generalization, we can say that coaching attracts people who want to act more than they want to understand, while the people who come for counseling want understanding more - and healing.
If you want help with your marriage or couple relationship, should you go to a couples counselor or a relationship coach? That depends on what sort of condition the relationship is in and, since the relationship is you and your partner, what sort of condition you both are in.
If the relationship is very unstable and you are too emotionally upset to work together, try counseling until the relationship settles down, then turn to relationship coaching, if that option is open to you. Similarly, if either one or both of you feels so emotionally clogged with anger or hurt that you feel incapable of even contemplating cooperating together on goals for the future, then again - counseling is probably the better short-term direction.
When you are committed to change, go for coaching or work with a counselor who has had coaching training and integrates coaching methods in his practice. And by the way - the need to heal the relationship does not in itself argue for counseling rather than coaching. It is very healing to discover through coaching, first, that you can behave better toward each other despite your pain and, second, that your improved behavior can suggest a new and positive future.
Relationship Counseling
Relationship coaching not well-known
If you are like most people, when you seek help for your relationship, you first think counseling. You may well never have heard of relationship coaching, which is a relatively new approach.
Actually for people who are tired of the blame game, ready to take responsibility for their own behavior and willing to work for change – relationship coaching may be the best choice.
How is coaching different from counseling?
One way to understand relationship coaching is to distinguish it from counseling - a somewhat chancy undertaking, because some forms of counseling are very close to coaching, and coaching at its sensitive best is counseling-like.
Despite the risks of over-generalization, here are some rough distinctions between counseling and coaching:
·    Counseling stresses understanding. Coaching stresses action.
·    Counseling asks why? (Why can't we be happy?") Coaching asks how? (How can we achieve happiness?")
·    Obstacles are prominent in counseling. Opportunities are prominent in coaching.
·    Counseling is psychological. Coaching is behavioral.
·    Counseling is therapy. Coaching is education.
·    Counseling is cure-oriented. Coaching is success-oriented.
Knowing those differences, how does coaching look to you so far?
Is coaching or counseling best for you?
If your fundamental goal is more psychological understanding than learning new skills and changing yourself and/or your relationship, you may be helped better in a strictly-counseling program, rather than our relationship coaching one. On the other hand, if "doing it differently" is ultimately your goal, you may well have come to the right place.
For further assistance and appointment – PLEASE VISIT www.thecounselor.info

Thursday, October 27, 2011

53-year-old helps others through Grief Recovery Outreach Program


“The program took me through a timeline of my life, and we were asked to examine losses we experienced since childhood,” she said. “I learned that grief is evoked with any kind of loss, from first boyfriend breakups, to sending your first child to kindergarten, and in what seems like lightning speed, to college.”
The course left Stevens feeling “more prepared” to grieve, when her father and older brother passed away years later.
“The Grief Recovery Outreach program didn’t fix our family’s grief, but it helped me understand and respect the process,” she said. “I became more aware and appreciative of my close relationships, and I take more time to let people know that I care about them.”...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

'Regular counselling needed in present day stressful life'

'Regular counselling needed in present day stressful life'
Times of India
This shows deterioration in 'human relationship' and calls for regular
counselling in today's stressful life. Psychiatrists advocate the need of
having a helpline for free counselling. This year, so far at least six
couples have killed their spouses. ...
<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/Regular-counselling-needed-in-present-day-stressful-life/articleshow/9804424.cms>

School edu dynamicschanges for good

School edu dynamicschanges for good
Times of India
"A teacher can best impart knowledge, howsoever advanced it may be, to the
student only when there exists a strong human relationship. As long as this
relationship is based on mutual trust and respect, it should be encouraged.
...
<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/School-edu-dynamicschanges-for-good/articleshow/9864975.cms>

Monday, September 5, 2011

Diet and Mental Health

Diet and Mental Health

Home > Help & Information > Mental Health A-Z > Diet and Mental Health

Most people are aware that a healthy diet is important to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other physical health problems.

Recent evidence also suggests that good nutrition may be just as important for our mental health and that a number of mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors.

There is not enough evidence to draw any firm conclusions yet about the effects of diet on mental health, but the evidence does suggest that a healthy diet protects our mental health.

While a healthy diet can help recovery, it should sit alongside other treatments recommended by your doctor.

Healthy eating on a budget

A healthy diet can be more expensive. Fish, fruit and vegetables can be particularly pricey. However, by cutting down on sugary drinks and snacks, takeaways and alcohol, you can save money so you can buy healthier foods.

Take care to buy only as much as you know you can use within the next few days, to reduce waste. You can also cut your costs by taking advantage of special promotions and by shopping at market stalls, which are often cheaper than supermarkets. If you live alone you could save money by splitting purchases with friends (buying bulk is usually cheaper) or by cooking several portions of a dish and freezing some of them. This also saves energy and saves you the effort of preparing meals every day.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are often cheaper than fresh produce and are usually just as good nutritionally (with no wastage). Fresh fruit and vegetables are usually cheapest when they are in season. Beans, lentils and soy mince are also cheaper than meat and just as nutritious.

Regular meals

Eat regular meals throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels.

Make sure you eat at least three meals each day. Missing meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar and this causes low mood, irritability and fatigue. If you feel hungry between meals you may need to include a healthy snack eg. fruit, nuts and cereals.

Refined foods

East fewer high sugar foods and more wholegrain cereals, nuts, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables.

Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. This may cause an initial ‘high’ or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving you feeling tired and low.

Wholegrain cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables are more filling and, because the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly, don’t cause mood swings.

These foods are more nutritious as they contain thiamin (B1), a vitamin that has been associated with control of mood, and folate and zinc (supplements of these nutrients have been shown to improve the mood of people with depression in a small number of studies).

Choose:

  • bread – wholemeal and granary rather than white. Also try rye breads, pumpernickel, wholemeal pitta bread, wholemeal chapattis, oat cakes, rice cakes and corn cakes
  • breakfast cereals – choose high fibre, low sugar types eg. wholegrain or bran cereals or porridge
  • rice and pasta – go for Basmati and brown rice (this gives a nutty texture in salads) and wholemeal pasta
  • potatoes – serve boiled new potatoes in their skins (with a little bit of butter) or mashed or jacket potatoes. Potato wedges (lightly brushed with olive oil) are a lower fat alternative to chips and roast potatoes if you are watching your weight. Try sweet potatoes or yams for a change – these are delicious baked.

Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day eg. 1 glass of orange juice or ½ grapefruit for breakfast, a banana or apple for a mid morning snack, salad at lunch time and then two types of vegetable (a portion is roughly two serving spoons) and piece of fresh or baked fruit for your evening meal.

NB: Green vegetables should be steamed or boiled in a little water and should not be overcooked or you will lose much of the vitamin content.

Avoid sugar and sugary drinks, cakes, sweets and puddings. These are loaded with calories but have little nutritional value and may trigger mood swings because of their sugar content.

Protein in your diet

Include protein at every meal to ensure a continuous supply of the amino acid tryptophan to the brain.

We all need to eat enough protein to maintain our skin, organ, muscle and immune function but recent research suggests that one particular component of protein, the amino acid tryptophan, can influence mood.

Supplements of tryptophan were tested in studies and in some were shown to improve the mood of people with depression. The supplements were not considered safe and were removed from the market. However, you can ensure your brain gets a regular supply of tryptophan by including at least one good sized portion of protein at each meal ie. meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, beans, lentils (dhal), or a meat substitute such as textured vegetable protein or mycoprotein.

NB: Peanuts are low in tryptophan so if you eat them at a meal-time include another source of protein (eg. other nuts) at the same time.

Variety of food

Eat a wide variety of foods to keep your diet interesting and to ensure you obtain all the micronutrients you need.

The more varied your diet, the more likely you are to obtain all the nutrients you need. If you have bread at one meal, try cereal or potatoes, rice or sweet potatoes at the others. Make sure you include at least 2 portions of different fruits and/or vegetables and a protein food at each meal.

Include some red meat and fish, as they are good sources of vitamin B12, another nutrient that seems to be associated with mood. If you are vegetarian or have a limited budget, include fortified soy mince and yeast extract to increase your intake of this vitamin.

Fish in your diet

Include fish, especially oily fish, in your diet.

A few studies suggest that omega 3 oil supplements may reduce symptoms in people with depression on antidepressant medications. These studies are small but we know that a proper balance of omega 3 and omega 6 oils in the diet is important.

To get a good balance of mega 3 and 6 oils:

  • include more omega 3-rich oily fish from sustainable fish stocks – try to include 2–4 portions a week (but no more than 2 portions if you are pregnant or breastfeeding). If buying tinned fish, choose varieties in water, brine or tomato sauce rather than in sunflower oil (this is high in omega 6)
  • if you fry food (eg. stir fries) use an oil high in monounsaturates eg. olive or rapeseed oil
  • choose a monounsaturated margarine or butter for spreading. Avoid margarines or low fat spreads containing omega 6 polyunsaturated or hydrogenated trans fats (trans fats are damaging to your brain and arteries)
  • avoid processed foods such as pies, sausage rolls, crisps and cakes – these are high in saturated and trans fats.

If you don’t like fish you could try an omega 3 supplement (choose one that is purified, contains no vitamin A and has a high eicosapenanoic acid (EPA) content – take no more than 1g EPA per day). If you are vegetarian, try a flax seed supplement (although only a very small fraction of the omega 3 contained in plant products can be used by the body).

Weight

Maintain a healthy weight.

Depression affects different people in different ways. Some people lose interest in food or can’t motivate themselves to shop and cook, so lose weight. Others find they want to eat more and gain weight when they are unhappy. Some medications can also increase or decrease your appetite – if you are concerned that the medication you are taking has made your weight problems worse, speak to your doctor.

Both excessive weight loss or weight gain can make your mood worse and should be avoided. Weight loss and lack of good nutrition will deprive the brain of glucose and the other nutrients that control mood – you may need the advice of a dietitian to help you overcome this problem.

Putting on weight unintentionally or feeling out of control of your eating can increase your depression and can lead to yo-yo dieting, which leaves you further out of control. If you are overweight, follow the advice on healthy eating but be extra careful to limit your fat and sugar intake (no fries, pies, cakes, puddings, sweets, chocolate or sweet drinks), use less fat in cooking, reduce your alcohol consumption, avoid sugary drinks, and increase your exercise levels.

Fluid intake

Maintain adequate fluid intake.

Not drinking enough fluid has significant implications for mental health. The early effects of even mild dehydration can affect our feelings and behaviour.

An adult loses approximately 2.5 litres of water daily through the lungs as water vapour, through the skin as perspiration and through the kidneys as urine. If you don’t drink enough fluids to replace this loss then you will get symptoms of dehydration, including irritability, loss of concentration and reduced mental functioning.

Coffee, colas, some energy drinks and tea all contain caffeine, which some people use to boost energy levels. However, in large quantities caffeine can increase blood pressure, anxiety, depressive symptoms and sleep problems.

Caffeine also has a diuretic effect in the body – it encourages the production of urine and therefore leads to dehydration. For this reason you should not rely solely on caffeine-based fluids.

If you do take drinks with caffeine in them, try to limit yourself to just 3–4 cups per day and drink other fluids such as water, fruit juice and non-stimulant herbal teas at other times. Chocolate also contains caffeine and should be limited to an occasional treat.

Alcohol intake

Limit your alcohol intake.

Alcohol has a depressant effect on the brain and can result in a rapid worsening of your mood. It is also a toxin that has to be deactivated by the liver. During this detoxification process the body uses thiamin, zinc and other nutrients and this can deplete your reserves, especially if your diet is poor.

Thiamin and other vitamin deficiencies are common in heavy drinkers and can cause low mood, irritability and/or aggressive behaviour, as well as more serious and long-term mental health problems.

Because the body uses important nutrients to process alcohol, people who experience depression should consider avoiding alcohol until they have recovered. Even then, because of alcohol’s depressant effects, they should consider drinking only small amounts – no more than once a week.

If you do want to drink alcohol, try not to exceed the recommended safe limits – two units a day for women and three units for men.

1 unit = 1 small glass wine (8 % ABV)
½ pint beer or lager (3.5 % ABV)
1 single measure spirits (40 % ABV)
1 small glass sherry or port (20 % ABV)

NB. % ABV is the strength of the alcoholic content. If the % ABV is higher than the examples listed above, then the drink contains more units of alcohol.

Find out more about alcohol and mental health.

Exercise

Exercise regularly

Exercise leads to the release of endorphins – feel-good chemicals in the brain that help us to relax and to feel happy. Exercise is particularly important for people with depression as it also gives structure and purpose to the day. Outdoor exercise that exposes us to sunlight is especially valuable as it affects the pineal gland and directly boosts mood.

Exercise has some other advantages if you are trying to control your weight. For example, the more you exercise, the less you need to cut down on your calorie intake to control your weight. It is also beneficial for heart health and it ensures that you replace fat with muscle, resulting in a more toned body. Exercise also prevents bone mass loss and the increased risk of osteoporosis that can occur if you diet but don’t exercise.

There is no need to join a gym – walking is the easiest, cheapest and best form of exercise and it can be built up as your fitness level increases. Swimming is good for people with joint problems who find weight-bearing exercise difficult. Cycling is also good. Whatever kind of exercise you choose, start with 20 minutes at least three times a week and increase this as your fitness improves.

Find out more about exercise and mental health.

Nutritional supplements


At the moment evidence for the benefits of nutritional supplements is weak, but if you decide to try them:

  • choose a complete one-a-day multivitamin / mineral preparation containing the full recommended daily intake of each vitamin and mineral. These products are relatively safe as they do not contain excessive amounts of any single nutrient (but you should avoid other supplements containing these nutrients, in particular vitamin A as it is toxic in high doses)
  • if your doctor prescribes vitamins or minerals for you, tell him/her about any products you are already taking
  • if you do take a multivitamin supplement, avoid eating liver and other offal products such as pate, as these are also high in vitamin A.

It is important to remember that supplements are not an alternative to a healthy diet and you should still maintain a varied and balanced diet.

Sample meal pattern

Breakfast 1/2 grapefruit / fruit juice

Cereal e.g. wholegrain or bran cereal / porridge, with semi-skimmed milk

or

1–2 slices wholemeal bread / toast with scraping of monounsaturated spread / butter, and kippers / egg / grilled bacon / baked beans

Tea / coffee / herbal tea / water

Mid morning Tea / coffee / herbal tea / water

Fruit / nuts
Lunch 1–2 slices wholemeal or pitta bread sandwich with scraping of monounsaturated spread / butter and filling of fish / meat / egg / cheese / humus / meat substitute / nut butter, with salad

Or jacket potato with baked beans / tuna and corn / chilli con carne / prawn filling, and salad

Or soup e.g. pea and ham / farmhouse broth, and bread

Or salad with meat / fish / egg / cheese, and bread

Or cooked meal – see below

Fruit / yoghurt

Tea / coffee / herbal tea / water
Mid afternoon Tea / coffee / herbal tea / water

Fruit / fruit and nuts / mixed seeds
Dinner 2tblsp Basmati or brown rice / wholemeal chapattis / wholemeal pasta / new potatoes / sweet potato / yam / couscous and 100–120g meat / fish / eggs or bean / lentil dish e.g. chilli con carne / rice and peas / dhal / stir-fried prawns and vegetables and 2 portions of green and root vegetables / large mixed salad

Fresh / tinned fruit / baked fruit and low fat crème fraiche / yoghurt

Tea / coffee / herbal tea / water
Supper Small bowl of cereal, as breakfast, or toast and yeast extract / nut butter / cheese

This advice was written Dr Lynn Harbottle, consultant in nutrition and dietetics at the Health and Social Services Department, Guernsey, sponsored by an educational grant from Nutricia Clinical Care.