The triangle of influence

No matter which facet of life we consider, we always lie somewhere on a spectrum along it. Be it our speed on the track or the amount of cash in our pocket; all aspects of life have a range to them.

The same is true for our ‘mental health’ as well. Actually, I happen to think that this term is extremely broad and rather ambiguous, because everything that we consider and how we act and react can be referred back to our mentality, and how ‘healthy’ our relationship to that thing is. Even within our common parlance, there are so many different concepts under the term ‘mental health’.

The blue spectrum

Let’s talk about how we’re feeling though. And if we’re not feeling on top of the world, this definitely comes under the mental health label, in my book.

Everything from feeling blue to life-stopping depression can sit on this particular spectrum – let’s call it the blue spectrum (just for today, and not to diminish the gravity with which some are affected). And of course so many factors affect our particular shade of blue.

Not least the following triplet of influences.

I hope that we, as a society, have got a good grasp on the concept that our diet plays an enormous role on this. Nutrition and fluid intake, in a nutshell, and reversing the internal inflammatory environment in which blueness takes its hold.

1. Real and living

Real and living food and good old-fashioned water can be game changers (in all aspects of life!), but their role is paramount in lifting blueness. Real and living food, but more specifically, fresh veg (the green ones are great, but consuming a rainbow of colours is pretty key), fresh herbs, salad stuffs, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds and nature’s oils – olive, coconut and avocado (and in their most natural form possible, preferably).

We know how wonderful we feel when we prepare and consume generous quantities of these real and living food types. We feel more alive! Well nourished, satisfied and generally vibrant. We know this…and yet so often we try to fill the void with emptiness; with mindless carb-orific, sugar-laden, processed calories.

Each day, each meal is a choice in our hands though.

(And it’s not about being oh-so-perfect and being virtuous all day everyday. It’s about the lion’s share of your food nourishing you more – really nourishing you – rather than not.)

Food’s essential role is not only in how we feel when we eat something (including how we feel about what we’re eating), but also in how the food’s components – its micronutrients and vitamins – can be assimilated by the body. The function of every cell relies on a finely tuned interaction of life’s natural chemicals. Every cell and collectively, every organ and every gland. Every organ that performs our phenomenal system’s operations and every gland who delivers its hormones to control the interplay of these organs’ activities.

And these internal workings – or not, more pertinently –  have everything to do with our mental health as well as our general health).

2. Positive snowballs

Making positive choices day after day after day not only impacts on our mind and body by affecting their most vibrant physical functioning, but also on the level of how empowered we feel in the making of those choices. The impact here lies in taking the power back into our own hands by making that decision about what we choose to do today.

Choosing to exercise, or choosing to engage with something create, choosing to dance, or to help out a friend, or choosing to volunteer for something. Or choosing not to.

Because blueness arises when we feel we have no control. When we feel that we are out of options, or that we can’t say no, and when we feel powerless to create a change.

And yet on no one day do we need to scale a mountain.

All we need to do each and every day is make one choice that we can feel good about. And if we can’t summon up enough to feel good about it…perhaps we can feel better.  Better, than we did yesterday, and more in control of one aspect – if only one aspect – of our lives.

Then we have a more powerful footing from which to make another, positive, decision for ourselves.

And so starts the positive snowball… It only requires us to take one small action that is within our control (like, the food we choose to fuel us…), and then we’ve expanded, albeit a little bit, our personal power.

Take back a piece of power, day after day after day, and blue days will start to become more rosy… They just will.

(Notwithstanding that set-backs happen. For everyone. More about this another day.)

3. Posture’s triangle of influence

There’s another element that connects our body and our mind, and which when actively, consciously accessed can help us on a blue day.

It’s possibly an unexpected element, and it’s our posture.

Yes, indeed our posture.

And it goes like this –

The following triad of elements are its own triangle of influence on the state of our blueness, and are all intricately interlinked – our posture, our physiology, and our psychology. They influence one another in a fabulous backwards and forwards relationship…

If we’re feeling blue (and we’ve all had blue days. Hopefully they’ve been fleeting), something occurs in our body.

We collapse.

Our trunk rounds, our shoulders slump forwards, the area around our heart and our lungs caves in.

This posture also relates to that perceived loss of our personal power, but something else happens, namely that our breathing is affected. When our mood puts us in a posture of collapse the depth of our breathing is diminished.  And the quality of the breath and its movement affects the other delicately balanced elements of our physiology – the rate of our respiration, our heart rate, our stress levels, our immune system and further down the line, our sleep and our digestive system.

They’re all interconnected!

Alter your posture, alter your mood

Take the reverse scenario. Imagine feeling on top of the world. What happens in your body when you think about being chuffed to bits, happy-as-larry, on top form, all at one with the world… How does that feeling affect you in your body?

Does it lift your chest and put a smile on your face? Make you want to inhale the fresh stuff deeply and be upright to do so? Does it enable you to drop your shoulders as you stand tall?

Our psychology and our posture are intrinsically interlinked. We can access one to affect the other.

There are little things that we can do on a blue day to lift ourselves. Awareness of our body and conscious action can introduce even the most subtle hint of a rosiness…