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Grounding through the feet

This simple grounding exercise can be done anywhere. Once it has been practiced, it can be done in minutes. It can be done when you are busy doing something stressful, such as giving a speech, facing a conflict or waiting in line for a long time.

  • Put your feet firmly on the floor
  • Feel your feet on the flGrounding through the feetoor. Can you feel the floor under your feet? Is it smooth floorboards or carpet? Do you have shoes on? What do your feet feel like in your shoes?
  • Wriggle your toes. Notice how they move. Notice if they feel stiff or relaxed. Do they hurt in places? Do they feel light or heavy?
  • As you wriggle your toes and feel your feet, take several deep breaths. Imagine your breath going all the way down to your toes and then breathe out slowly.
  • Keep focusing on your feet and how they feel on the floor. Imagine your energy going down to your toes with each breath.
  • When you are ready, bring your attention back to the room. Look around you and notice where you are and what you are doing.

Eating for Good Mental Health

Increasingly research is suggesting there is a link between mental health and diet. The body and the mind are linked. Diet affects levels of neurotransmitters that influence mood, sleep, activity and motivation. In addition a poor diet can make us feel tired, sluggish and flat. This can increase feelings of depression. People sometimes also get depressed if they are overweight, due to negative feelings about their body.

For good mental health follow these dietary tips.

  • Eat healthy Food


    Eat a diet that is high in unprocessed foods i.e. foods which are close to how they appear in nature. Examples of unprocessed foods are meats, fish, eggs, milk, tofu, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as oats, brown rice and grain substitutes such as quinoa. Some foods such as cheese and milk undergo some processing but are still quite healthy.

  • Avoid highly processed foods. This includes most packaged foods, fried foods, take-away, lollies, sugar, alcohol etc. For example, it is better to buy plain Greek yoghurt and add some fruit, nuts or honey at home than it is to buy an already packaged and flavoured yoghurt in the supermarket as these usually have more additives and sweeteners than you would add at home. Many purchased bakery products, including breads, are now highly processed and unlike the healthy traditional foods they once were. Eat sweet foods and alcohol as special treats, not as part of your daily diet.
  • Eat protein with every meal, including snacks. Eat protein from a variety of sources including eggs, meats, fish, milk, cheese, Greek yoghurt, tofu, tempeh, quinoa and legumes. Some research suggests increasing protein in the diet may be linked to reduced anxiety and depression. Amino acids in protein foods are precursors for neurotransmitters that control mood. (Precursors are chemicals that help make another chemical.)
  • Healthy fats are strongly associated with good mental health. It is especially important to increase your intake of omega-3 and 6 fats. These are found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, pink rainbow trout, anchovy and tuna. They are also found in flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts. However non-animal sources of these fats do not appear to be as well absorbed as animal sources.
  • Eat at regular intervals and don’t skip meals or snacks. Dips in blood sugar are associated with changes in moods such as depression and anxiety and also affect concentration and memory.
  • Consider supplements of Vitamin Bs, magnesium and Zinc to reduce anxiety. Vitamin D and Fish oil supplementation are linked to improved mental health and reduced depression.
  • Chromium and Selenium deficiencies are linked to depression and anxiety. Brazil nuts are high in selenium and only 4-5 nuts can help make up dietary requirements. Chromium is found in wholefoods such as corn, sweet potato and apples. However chromium is depleted by a diet high in white grains, flours and sugars. There is some controversy around the use of selenium and chromium supplements. While these may be an option, it generally appears safest to try and get these micronutrients through diet.
  • Always combine a healthy diet with regular exercise. Exercise has been shown to have a significant positive effect on depression, stress and anxiety.
  • This is a general guide only. Consider seeing a nutritionist/dietician for expert advice.

Staying Present in Everyday Life: A Guide for Trauma Survivors

When dealing with trauma humans tend to utilise both approach and avoid strategies: sometimes focussing intently on trauma (even unwillingly in the form of flashbacks or nightmares) and at other times completely ignoring trauma (eg ‘forgetting’, going numb, shutting off feelings).

Sometimes trauma survivors think about the past, even when they don’t want to.  They can ‘get lost’ in memories, or ‘go away in their head’, ruminating over a distressing event. They sometimes tell their story over and over again, especially to therapists, thinking this will heal them. They may also have bad memories, nightmares and flashbacks. Many also read about other people’s trauma on this internet or in books.

But this is often not helpful. The truth is each time the mind goes over the trauma event it reacts like the survivor re-experiences the event. The body is flooded with the same stress and trauma related hormones. The brain reacts in the same way – it shuts down with fear! The survivor feels more and more upset. Hearing the stories of other people can also be upsetting.

While, in therapy, processing trauma can be very healing, this needs to be done at the right time, and with the guidance of a professional. This type of trauma processing is very different to ruminating or re-living trauma.

Often when outside of therapy, trauma survivors need to learn to live in the present, not the past. They benefit from learning to spend time ‘staying in the present’. This doesn’t mean denial or suppression of trauma memories or stopping all trauma processing. It just means giving yourself a break, having balance in your life.  It means not letting the past steal your present.

Some examples of ways to stay present in everyday life include:

Gardening – sit walk or stand in your garden, breathe in the air, smell the scents of plants. Dig in the soil and feel it in your hands. Notice if it is soft or hard, warm or cold. Touch small plants. Notice how they feel. Observe how plants change with the seasons, how they grow and watch flowers and fruit develop. Feel the sun on your skin. Listen to the sounds of birds and lizards as they go about their daily lives.

Cooking – enjoy the smell of foods as you chop them and cook them. Listen to the sounds as they cook. Enjoy the feel of pastry or dough in your hands. Remember to taste foods too.

Walking – enjoy the sun on your skin and the feeling of the breeze. Notice the feeling of your feet on the ground. Notice your body as you move. Notice the scenery around you. You may see birds, flowers and trees as well as buildings and cars. Listen to the sounds around you.

Patting your pets – stroke your pets and feel stay in the presenttheir fur underneath your hands. Feel their bodies in your arms or on your lap. Listen to the small sounds they make as they communicate. Watch your pets as they move, play and snuggle.

Watch a comedy on television – enjoy something light-hearted. Laughter releases all sorts of hormones that reduce stress.

Get outside in nature – Go and sit in a local park, go to the beach for a walk or swim. Look at your surroundings. Notice the small things: the flowers, a snail, a small lizard sun-baking. Smell grass. Listen to the sounds of the birds. Being nature is healing and soothing.

In all these activities it is normal for your mind to start thinking again. You may have memories of trauma, or you may start to worry about something. When this happens, just acknowledge it and bring your attention back to the activity you are doing.

This is a gentle process so be kind to yourself. Start with little practices, just minutes at a time and build up. Be creative- find your own activities t focus on and stay present.