Today, and the whole month of October is the official WHO Mental Health Awareness Day dedicated to de-stigmatizing mental health and raising awareness about this huge problem. Every 40 seconds someone succeeds in taking their lives. At the same time, mental illnesses are the biggest cause of disability and illness in the world. Depression alone is one of the top five leading causes of disability across the planet.
It’s often said that societies that don’t allow the expression of emotions or open talk about emotional subjects are more likely to have mental illnesses, but what is surprising is how little is said about the importance of actually eating healthy food, exercising and sleeping well. How come WHO doesn’t mention these major causes of chronic mental illness on their page for suicide prevention? Crap food and drinks raise the risk of depression by 60%* and 80%* for adolescents (MHA) and yet only 20 minutes of brisk walking 3 times a week can lower the risk by 30%. If you just eat healthy food, walk and sleep well you would most likely never have any risk.
Body health is mind health, and vice versa, as there is no sense in talking about a separate mind. Most people we talk to profess to know this, but either don’t really know it or at least don’t apply it in their lives. That’s the interesting part of all this. Why is it so that humans don’t do what we know is good for us. We see that the focus of many is on their “minds” and blame all sorts of “mindy” stuff for their problems, turbulent minds included. Medical professionals in this area most often do too, and to our knowledge very, very few actually recommend basic healthy habits before prescribing medication (except in Sweden, more on this in next blog).
80% of the happy hormone serotonin is made in the gut, and endorfins come with exercise, to mention a few examples of how the mind is the body. How can what we eat and how we move not be important for the mood, specially when sad or stressful things happen in our lives (or cause them)? The least we can do is to stay healthy when things like accidents, death, separation, job loss, broken hearts or other common life things happen to us. And if we do it before it happens, that’s even better.
These are the questions that we at O·live Retreat air out and more often than not dissolve, but we always give our retreat guests 2-3 days of healthy living first, by eating whole vegan food, exercise in nature, yoga, meditation and amazing sleep in PranaPods, 100% outdoors. Then we can talk. To set the basis for the conversations we have our eight dialogues, the O·8 Mind Detox, which is based on the best of social and natural science. We are not the first ones to think about these questions. Humans have thought about the big “why” for many thousands of years, and we have learned from the best.
Take great care of yourselves. It’s easy and really worth it.
*Jacka FN, et al. Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. (2010). The American Journal of Psychiatry. 167:305-311.
Sánchez-Villegas A, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Alonso A, et al. Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra follow-up (SUN) cohort. (2009). Archives of General Psychiatry.66:1090-1098.
Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ, Ferrie JE, Marmot MG, Kivimaki M, Singh-Manoux A. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. (2009). British Journal of Psychiatry.195:408-413.
Li, Y., et al. Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. (2017). Psychiatry Research. 253: 373-382.