The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: October 2010

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No. 18: Eating Mood Foods

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness …

I will eat at least one Mood Food every day to give myself the essentials that my body needs to operate effectively and regulate my emotions.  By setting my body up to respond well to stress, I will build my resilience to distress – I will have the energy and resources I need to cope.  By paying mindful attention to eating foods that are good for me in this way, I will be engaging in the practice of valuing myself.  I could also use this as a chance to explore new foods and recipes.

Mood Foods contain magnesium, selenium, B-vitamins, folic acid, tyrosine, tryptophan and zinc, among other things.  These vitamins and minerals are involved in low energy, concentration, insomnia, irritability, confusion, anxiety and low motivation.  There is an excellently detailed list of foods to incorporate in the Nutrients Table at www.mentalhealth.org.uk.

In the Engage Booster Group, we circled the foods we liked or might like on the Nutrients Table and then found ways of incorporating them into one meal a day.  Everyone who tried it noticed a difference in the way they felt two weeks later, even though nothing in their environment had changed. The group decided to try to continue with this for another month and see what happened.

Some Good Mood Foods:

  • Brazil nuts – 3 brazil nuts a day meets all of your magnesium and selenium needs.
  • LSA: A combination of ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds that can be sprinkled over most foods to add magnesium, selenium, tryptophan, zinc and B3 content to whatever you are eating. Or just eat whole almonds and sunflower seeds.
  • Bananas – these are a power food, they contain so many essentials and all of the essentials we named above.
  • Blackberries, Pineapple, Kiwifruit
  • Peas, Spinach, Broccoli
  • Salmon, Tuna, Mussels – for omega-3 oils, folic acid, B vitamins and zinc.
  • Olive oil
  • Brown rice, Wholemeal pasta, Wholemeal bread – wholegrains contain Folic Acid, magnesium and important B vitamins.  They also provide you with longer lasting energy and make you feel full longer than processed grains.
  • Plain yoghurt, Parmesan Cheese, Cheddar Cheese
  • Miso soup – zinc and tyrosine: you can also cook with miso, it’s a soy-bean extract.  Marmite is a good source of tyrosine too.

Once I’ve gotten comfortable eating and using these foods, I will add ‘Eat and Prepare a Mood Food’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of shifting my mood and engaging with resilience when I am feeling distressed.

No 17. What Would Goofy Do?

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness…

I will practice taking some time out with a notebook and doing a writing exercise to cope with stress.  When I think I need a break from the moment, I will sit down with a notebook and choose a cartoon character.  I will imagine that this cartoon character is in my situation instead of me.  I will write for 5 minutes about how this character would view and react to the situation. It will distract me and maybe even give me a different perspective of things.

I will need to keep a notebook and pen or pencil in my bag or pocket for this one.

Once I am used to doing writing exercises when I am not particularly upset, I will add ‘What Would A Cartoon Character Do? Writing Exercise’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way to shift unwanted moods.

No 16 – Regular contact

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness…

I will reach out to another person to talk about my day and what’s on my plate every day.  I will also give the other person the chance to talk to me about their day and what is on their plate at the same time.  This way things will not build up for me and I will get ongoing support and access to other perspectives.  If I am upset, I might get comfort and understanding.

This may take some planning, especially for those of us who are still building a social support network.  On days when I do not know who to ring, visit or chat to at the water cooler, I will call Youthline, Warmline or Lifeline and utilise a pair of expert ears.

It helps to make a list of people you can call.  And to start off with there’s

  • Youthline – Ph: 0800 37 66 33 | Free text: 234 | email: talk@youthline.co.nz
  • Warmline – Ph: 0508 WARMLINE or 0508 927 654
  • Lifeline – Ph: 0800 LIFE LINE or 0800 543 345
  • The Phobic Trust: 24-Hour Anxiety Help-Line; 0800 1 4 ANXIETY
  • A parent; A sibling or cousin; A friend; Another friend; A colleague

Once I am used to reaching out to someone regularly, I will add “Call Someone To Talk About It” to my Personal Coping Kete as something to do during times of stress.


No. 15 – The Mini Self-Hug

This week, to attain, maintain or regain a sense of wellbeing …

I will practice using sensation to self-soothe and slow things down.  I will place my right palm on the front of my left shoulder, with my arm across the front of my body. I will feel the warmth of my hand soaking into my skin and muscles. I will notice the solidity of my arm cradling my body.  I will focus my thoughts on the sensations in my hand and shoulder and my arm across my chest.  I might gently stroke my shoulder to give myself comfort or press my palm into my shoulder.  I will take a few deep, relaxing breaths and let myself know that everything will be okay in the end.

This exercise is kind of like giving yourself a little nuturing mini-hug and it can be done anywhere, relatively inconspicuously.

Once I’m used to doing this regularly, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete to try during moments of stress and distress.