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Jack got in touch with Leeds Mind via email, wanting to share his own experiences of mental health struggles and some some of the research, advice and coping strategies that he has found most useful. Jack wanted to share this on our platform to help encourage others to look after their physical and emotional wellbeing.

If you have a story you’d like to share, get in touch with us on newsletter@leedsmind.org.uk

I’m Jack Norton, creator of BreatheWell.info and the guest author of this article. Like many people, I’ve had my share of mental health struggles over the years. My low point was in my mid-20s. Over the course of a few months, I became more and more exhausted physically and emotionally. It got so bad that I could hardly get out of bed in the morning — it wasn’t just that I was sleepy, I had no motivation to do anything but sleep. I didn’t want to wake up, and I knew I needed help. I was subsequently diagnosed with chronic depression and panic disorder, and I’ve been on a treatment plan to keep these conditions under control ever since.

Looking back, there were signs for many years that my mental health was suffering. I wish I’d reached out for help sooner, because I could have saved myself from a lot of overwhelmingly difficult emotions if I had. If you even suspect you may be dealing with a mental health issue, I encourage you to reach out to a loved one or a professional mental health specialist, like those at Leeds Mind, for help. I’m here to tell you it can get better — and you deserve to feel better!

Here’s some of the research I’ve found most useful in my recovery:

Three Surprising Reasons for Anxiety and What To Do About Them

Do you suffer from anxiety? And do you know why? Sweaty palms, a distracted mind, insomnia, muscle tension — you might recognize some of the symptoms of anxiety, but there could be some surprising reasons behind why you feel the way you do. Read on to learn about what might be behind those sensations, as well as what you can do about it.

Your Physical Space

Many people don’t realize that the condition of our home and office can have a huge impact on our mental health. Factors like clutter, disorganization, and limited natural light can all take a toll on our mental wellness, so take some time to address these issues.

Start by removing clutter from your home and office. Decluttering has become a huge trend over the last few years, but you don’t have to go to extremes to reap the benefits of this practice. Start by picking out large items you can easily spot that you no longer use, and then you can move on to paring down clothing, decor, and gadgets that no longer serve a purpose in your life. Decluttering will allow you to free up space so you can get better organized, which will help you feel calmer throughout the day. Lastly, try to add natural light to indoor spaces during the day; not only does exposure to natural light boost your mood, it also helps your body stick to a healthy circadian rhythm — a key factor in warding off stress.

Something You Ate

You may be surprised to learn that your diet could be contributing towards your anxiety, but Psychology Today notes that there are several foods and beverages which could be an underlying factor.

Caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, and refined carbs are a few potential triggers you might be inclined to guess, and you could consider avoiding these if you’re feeling tense. Probably more surprisingly, white and red potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other members of the nightshade family can also amp up your nerves. If you’re struggling with anxiety, certain fermented foods, such as cheese and wine, may not be helping.

If you’re experiencing anxiety and aren’t sure what’s at the root, consider making notes about your meals to find out if you have a particular sensitivity. Real Simple explains that a food journal should include what you ate, how much, and when you ate it, and be honest with yourself — nobody needs to look at it but you.

Minimal Movement

The advantages of technology are a wonderful thing, but unfortunately, many people are trading their health for the ease, comfort, and entertainment it brings. Among other things, being more sedentary appears to be linked with higher levels of anxiety, but thankfully, there are some easy fixes.

Simply working out for 10 minutes three times a day could help you burn off some nervous energy and help raise your body’s serotonin. Serotonin is one of the chemicals you release that makes you feel content, and a brisk walk is enough to do the trick.

To take the feel-goods to the top level, skip the treadmill and take your walk in the great outdoors. As mentioned earlier, sunlight can also help trigger serotonin production, and on top of that, green space is believed to offer incredible anxiety-reducing benefits. So, consider parking a little farther when you go to work or snagging a romp with your dog each morning. It’s a chance to double-dip on serotonin, and it’ll get your day off to a great start.

If you’re experiencing anxiety, it can really take a toll on your quality of life. Take a look at what goes into your body as well as your overall lifestyle. Sometimes, there are surprising things at the root of your troubles. Anxiety is no fun, but thankfully, you don’t need to live that way.

Huge thanks to Jack for sharing his story and his learnings with us!

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