One Portion Of These Foods Boosts Mental Health

Just one portion has the same positive effect as going for a walk on 8 extra days a month.

Just one portion has the same positive effect as going for a walk on 8 extra days a month.

People who eat more fruit and vegetables have better mental health, research finds.

Indeed, the more fruit and vegetables people eat, the better their state of mind.

Eating just one extra portion of fruit and vegetables per day is enough to measurably improve mental well-being.

Just one portion has the same positive effect as going for a walk on 8 extra days a month.

Only around one-in-ten people in the US eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

The recommended amount in the US is 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.

Dr Neel Ocean, the study’s first author, said:

“It’s well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health.

Recently, newer studies have suggested that it may also benefit psychological well-being.

Our research builds on previous work in Australia and New Zealand by verifying this relationship using a much bigger UK sample.

While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”

The study followed many thousands of people across seven years.

The study controlled for other factors, like lifestyle, education, health status and other aspects of the diet.

Dr Peter Howley, study co-author, said:

“There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Despite this, the data show that the vast majority of people in the UK still consume less than their five-a-day.

Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term.”

The study was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine (Ocean et al., 2019).

The Best Way To Exercise For Mental Health (M)

Being in the moment and involved with our surroundings helps boost well-being.

Being in the moment and involved with our surroundings helps boost well-being.

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One-Third Are Anxious/Depressed From Pandemic Measures (M)

One-in-three adults are anxious and depressed as a result of quarantines, lockdowns and social distancing — but some groups are suffering more.

One-in-three adults are anxious and depressed as a result of quarantines, lockdowns and social distancing -- but some groups are suffering more.

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The Best Diet For Mental Health Changes With Age (M)

Younger adults are at particular risk of mental health problems from a poor diet.

Younger adults are at particular risk of mental health problems from a poor diet.

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Happy Childhoods Do Not Guarantee Good Mental Health

Mental health problems can strike anyone.

Mental health problems can strike anyone.

A happy childhood does not guarantee against developing mental health problems later on, a study finds.

Even people who experience many positive early childhood experiences can go on to develop anxiety and depression or other mental health issues.

It shows how mental health problems can strike anyone.

The research also reaffirms the connection between negative childhood experiences and mental health problems, like depression and paranoia.

While childhood experiences can set the tone for our lives, they do not determine our destiny.

Rather our mental health depends on how we adapt to stressful circumstances in adulthood.

Those who fail to cope are those who are more likely to succumb.

The conclusions come a study that tracked over 300 children in Australia.

Ms Bianca Kahl, the study’s first author, said:

“This research shows that mental health conditions are not solely determined by early life events, and that a child who is raised in a happy home, could still grow up to have a mental health disorder.

There’s certainly some missing factors in understanding how our childhood environment and early life experiences might translate into mental health outcomes in adulthood.

We suspect that it’s our expectations about our environments and our ability to adapt to scenarios when our expectations are not being met, that may be influencing our experiences of distress.

If, as children, we learn how to adapt to change, and we learn how to cope when things do not go our way, we may be in a better position to respond to stress and other risk factors for poor mental health.

Testing this hypothesis is the focus of the next research study.”

The study was published in the journal Current Psychology (Kahl et al., 2020).

One Key To Boosting Mental Health In Lockdown

People with this amenity are less likely to suffer depression and anxiety during lockdown.

People with this amenity are less likely to suffer depression and anxiety during lockdown.

Access to nature is key to surviving lockdown, a new study finds.

People who are able to get out into nature are less likely to suffer depression and anxiety during lockdown.

Even a natural view from inside can help to ameliorate the effects of COVID-19 related policies.

The conclusions come from a study that examined the mental health of people in various European countries as governments imposed lockdowns of different scales.

Spain, for example, imposed one of the most severe lockdowns: for a period, people were forbidden to go outside, even to walk.

The UK and Norway, though, did allow people access to nature.

Dr Sarai Pouso, the study’s first author, explained the results:

“The main conclusion is that people who were under the strictest lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 (those who were only allowed to go out for work or essentials purchases, as was the case of Italy and Spain) were more likely to show symptoms compatible with depression and anxiety, compared to countries with more relaxed lockdowns where people could still visit natural places such as parks.”

Nine countries were included in the analysis, comprising the responses of over 5,000 people.

The researchers also tested whether having a garden or view of nature from the home was important.

They found that green spaces visible from the home were much more important for the mental health of people under the most severe lockdown.

Dr María C. Uyarra, study co-author, said:

“The results indicate that having access from the home to outdoor spaces (e.g., garden, balcony) and having window views to open spaces or natural element (e.g., coast, park, forest) decreased the probability of showing symptoms of depression.

Furthermore, people with access to outdoor spaces and with nature views, managed to maintain a more positive mood during lockdown.”

Pandemic or not, green and blue spaces have a remarkable healing effect on people’s mental health.

→ Read on: 10 Remarkable Ways Nature Can Heal Your Mind

The study was published in the journal Science of The Total Environment (Pouso et al., 2020).

The Biggest Myth About Coping With Mental Illness

When experiencing psychological distress, people first use self-soothing techniques and social support.

When experiencing psychological distress, people first use self-soothing techniques and social support.

It is commonly believed that people in mental distress fail to use healthy coping strategies and are not resilient.

In other words, people with mental health problems are thought ‘weak’.

This is a myth.

New research reveals that many people experiencing mental health problems are resilient and already use many healthy strategies like distraction and meditation.

Indeed, these healthy strategies work up to a point — it is just that their levels of distress are too great.

The conclusions come from a survey of 509 young people who were asked about their mental health and any strategies they used to cope with it.

Professor Helen Stallman, the study’s first author, explained the results:

“We found that the majority of extremely distressed people already used healthy coping methods such as mindfulness techniques before turning to unhealthy methods to feel better such as emotional eating, aggression, alcohol, drugs and self-harm, social withdrawal and suicidality.”

When experiencing psychological distress, people started by using self-soothing techniques and social support.

When these did not work to alleviate mental pain, some moved on to seek professional support.

Once people were experiencing very high levels of distress, they tended to use more unhealthy ways of coping like drink, drugs, social withdrawal and worse.

Professor Helen Stallman, the study’s first author, said:

“What we have found busts the myth that mental health services and workers should encourage extremely distressed people to build resilience or learn healthy coping strategies like relaxing or distracting activities.

Support should not focus on ‘fixing’ the person who is suffering, it should focus on other ways to help reduce their overwhelming distress.

While we may consider people in mental distress to be lacking in resilience, they are the most resilient people but have too much to cope with.”

Professor Stallman advocates a model called “Care, Collaborate, Connect.”

She explains:

“‘Care’ is the initial intervention when someone is upset, so listening without interrupting and validating their experience.

‘Collaborate’ starts with asking how they are coping and ‘connect’ involves suggesting they talk to a health professional, like their GP, if things keep getting them down.”

The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports (Stallman et al., 2020).

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