From clothes to coffee - the everyday things that can affect your mental health - Part 2

Not eating your greens
Those who eat the least fresh fruit and ­vegetables are most likely to become depressed, according to a University College London study.

The high levels of antioxidants found in fresh produce help prevent free radical damage to cells, including those in the brain.

Boost your mood: Find ways to sneak extra fruit and veg into meals. 

Eating just one extra portion of berries, greens or salad boosts someone’s mental wellbeing by the same amount as walking for an additional 10 minutes for seven days over four weeks, say researchers.

And adding 10 additional portions of fruit and vegetables to your daily diet has the same effect on our emotional wellbeing as going from unemployment into a job.

Your clothes
Professor Karen Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire, found that what we choose to wear is heavily dependent upon our emotional state.

She found that when women are feeling depressed, they are more likely to wear jeans and a baggy top.

Boost your mood: Wear clothes you associate with happiness, even if you’re feeling low, because of the strong link between clothing and mood state. 

Professor Pine’s study found “happy” clothes that make us feel good are well-cut, figure-enhancing and made from bright and ­beautiful fabrics.

Ironically, studies show the colour blue has a positive impact on mood, lowering blood pressure and instilling calm.
Your cigarette habit
Smoking increases your depression risk by 41%, according to scientists who spent six years monitoring 8,556 adults.

Nicotine sends the “elation” brain chemical dopamine soaring, then plummeting, leaving you feeling down.

Boost your mood:  Quit to revive your health, mood – and finances! 

People using e-cigarettes to quit smoking are about 95% more likely to report succeeding than those trying without, according to a large, UCL-led survey of smokers in England.

Skipping the fish course
Large population studies have also confirmed a link between low consumption of fish and an increased incidence of depression. In a Norwegian study of almost 5,000 volunteers, fish eaters reported having better mental wellbeing than those who did not eat fish at all. It’s thought the poly-

unsaturated fatty acids in fish act as a mood stabiliser. 

Boost your mood: Aim to eat oily fish – salmon, mackerel, kippers, sardines and fresh tuna – twice a week. Don’t like fish? Take a supplement instead. 
The pill
While many millions of women take the pill without ­problems, a significant minority say it has an effect on their mental health. Several studies, including a recent one from the University of Copenhagen of more than a million women, found a clear link between hormonal contraception and subsequent diagnoses of depression. Those using the combined pill were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression, and those on the mini-pill 34% more likely.

Boost your mood: If you have experienced (or have a family history of) anxiety or depression, speak to your GP about alternative, non-hormonal, contraception options. 

Too many coffee breaks
In the same way that sugary and fatty foods can leave you on a rollercoaster of emotion, so too can coffee and high-caffeine energy drinks, warns nutritionist Patrick Holford.

Consuming caffeine sets off a stress response to your brain which then stimulates the production of adrenaline, making you more alert, he explains.

“In the long term, however, too much caffeine throughout the day causes constant adrenal overload,” he says.

“As a consequence, an increasing number of people are suffering from chronic anxiety, panic attacks, low mood, insomnia and stress-related weight gain.”

Boost your mood:  Cut back on caffeinated drinks and eliminate them completely after 4pm. 

Try non-stimulating herbal teas, such as chamomile. 

Being indecisive
The term The Paradox of Choice was coined by Barry Schwartz, an American psychologist and author, to describe the anxiety that shoppers feel when they are faced with too many choices.

And now that we have more choices available to us than ever before, we are actually suffering more with stress, anxiety, depression, ­loneliness and a distinct lack of happiness. 

Boost your mood: By all means research expensive purchases, such as cars and holidays. 

But when it comes to everyday items, simply buy whatever’s on offer or brands you know you like.

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