Smorgasbord Health – Guest Post – Five Simple Ways to Keep Mental Health Issues at Bay by Wade S. Lang

smorgasbord health

In the midst of all the festivities as we get together with friends and family to celebrate Christmas, it is easy to forget it can be a stressful time of year for many. This is especially so for men and women of all ages who are suffering from depression or other mental health issues. Part of the stress is the massive change in normal routine and increase in human interaction.

Wade S. Lang has written an exclusive article for Smorgasbord on some strategies to cope with not just the holiday period, but all year round.


Five Simple Ways to Keep Mental Health Issues at Bay by Wade S. Lang

As defined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”

In the U.S., it is reported that 1 out of 5 adults experiences mental issues in any given year. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that 350 million people across the globe manifest clinical depression.

Mental illnesses account for less than half of all long term sicknesses. In the workplace, some contributors for consecutive absences are stress, anxiety, and depression. Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Antisocial Personality Disorder are said to be the extremes of mental illnesses.

Whether you have the more competitive, ambitious, Type A personality, or simply the laid back Type B personality, you wouldn’t want your mental health compromised. It can be just as paralyzing as that of horrible physical sickness.

On the bright side, majority of mental illnesses can be treated with a combination of meds and psychotherapy. For the symptoms to fully disappear, it usually takes a considerable amount. Now that’s good news.

Here are four ways to stave off stress and anxiety and to be mentally healthier.

Shy Away from Ruminating

All mental illnesses thrive on anxiety, or the uneasiness brought upon by unrealistic views. One way you encourage anxiety in your life is by rumination. Common things that play in someone’s head when ruminating are the following:

  • Belittling one’s own success and comparing it to more successful individuals
  • Views about perfectionism and neuroticism
  • A belief of having no control over the situation – that it’s all downhill
  • Having negative thoughts of an event before it could even happen
  • Unnecessary fear of judgement or evaluation from others
  • Wanting continuous assurance that everything’s fine

Overthinking does nothing apart draining your resolve. The best way to fight it? Move. Prove that those thoughts are unreal by grinding it out. You have more power than you actually realize.

Appreciate More

When the going gets tough, it’s easier to lurk in the shadows of despair. However, these life challenges should be faced with a grin than an awful face. Just think of it this way, what are the odds of a negative mind conquering a negative occurrence?

Despite certain mishaps, there’s still a lot to be thankful for. Did you kiss your mom after she handed over your packed lunch? Ever thanked a friend randomly for staying through the good and bad? We not only feel better by thanking, we also share the good vibes by doing so.

Appreciating extends to the little things. It could be having sufficient money for the bus ride home or just wondering how great and generous nature is.

Appreciating is all a state of mind. It rejuvenates our spirit and convinces us that there’s more to life than our daily routines.

Devise a Personal Mantra

When you’re bombarded with stress, it often leads to unnecessary slacking; there’s less motivation and zest in the usual activities you do. This, in turn, delays your progress and targets in the aspects of your life, particularly your career.

You need a personal mantra – something that would rekindle your fire whenever it’s winded.

Here are some of my personal best:

  • I only fear never trying.
  • All for my (insert time) (insert goal) (e.g., All for my 2017 5-day family trip to Maldives)
  • I suffered worse.
  • What could’ve beens are my worst nightmares.
  • All of these negative thoughts are illusions.

Me-Time Is Healing Time

The busy city life takes its toll both physically and mentally. 9-5 day jobs, sidelines, and attending to the needs of family and peers are all taxing. It’s the reason why there should be an extra outlet where you do things for personal indulgence. Some people are still indifferent doing this, so it’s important to see it as an investment.

Why an investment?

Why not? It revitalizes you more than you can imagine. And the cost? It doesn’t necessarily need to be a high-end session at Spa Montage Beverly Hills or The Peninsula.

Here are creative, economy me-time ideas:


Walk your dog. Exercise boosts mood and motivation. Plus, you get to save some bucks from dog walkers.

Take long, blissful showers. When you take a shower before work, you usually don’t have time to scratch some areas and sweet spots. Every evening is your chance.

Remember mini achievements while munching your favourite snack. It could be a Snickers bar or a pack of Cheetos. Whatever it is, just imagine your achievements for the day or the week while gnawing it. The feeling is just plain ecstatic.

Schedule power naps. This me-time idea has no cost at all! A 2 hour power nap could be enough to reset your exhaustion and get your gears going again.

Value Meaningful Conversations

For depressed individuals, therapeutic communication conducted by experts does a lot. The same principle goes for merely stressed out folks. Light conversations with colleagues, superiors, family, and friends can be really uplifting.

Afraid of not being talked to? Be the initiator then. Various studies have proven that people who make the effort to talk first are regarded as confident and dominant people.

Someone did great? Congratulate him verbally. Treat the person the way you want to be treated, say you had a promotion. If the matter of the conversation seems purely transactional, do small talk. Smiling won’t also hurt.

As a concluding thought, everybody wants to be happy and feel good about themselves. Self-esteem and vision of reality are what mental illnesses maim. Therefore, it’s essentially important to take care of our feelings and try our utmost best to be on top mood. Scientifically, our serotonin or ‘good feel’ neurotransmitter has a lot to do with how our brains will like us to feel. But deep down, there’s the inner you that really controls and decides for yourself.

Cheer up. Don’t stop believing. Never look back on the bad.

About Wade S. Lang

wade-3Wade is an essayist at

He incorporates nature’s beauty in his writing. Besides excellence, he puts his lovely wife and two kids at the center of his craft. He is fond of physical contact sports and considers South America as a haven for tourists.


My thanks to Wade for this timely article and I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the impact of Christmas on the elderly in particular.. especially perhaps those who might be spending it alone.  Please share with others. Thanks Sally

Men’s Health Week Revisited- One of the most dangerous silent killers of men – Stress

men's health

In the first post in the series I identified the main risk factors that are likely to result in serious health issues in men.

Stress is becoming a great deal less gender specific in our modern age as we are all bombarded with dire news from around the world, we struggle with finances, jobs and relationships. However, men still appear to be most effected physically than women.

I usually approach my work from a three dimensional perspective when working with clients. Physical, mental and emotional.  Women are more open to talking through their problems amongst themselves and this is a great stress release valve.  Men not so much.

We have all heard the expressions ‘The Strong Silent Type’ and ‘Real Men Don’t Cry’ or ‘Man Up’.  Unfortunately bottled up stress and emotions are not great for the body physically.

Raised blood pressure, over production of stress hormones leads to poor digestion and absorption of nutrients and if prolonged can lead to serious physical and mental health issues.

So part one today is a recap of stress and the effects on the body and if you recognise some of the symptoms then I suggest you read part two which I will post on Friday.

I have worked with Cathy Blackburn D.Hyp MIAPH for several years and asked her last year to put together a stress busting, self-hypnosis post.  You will find it very relaxing and puts the control firmly in your own hands when faced with stressful situations.

In the third post on stress I have some breathing exercises that you can complete every morning and evening for five minutes a time that will help to increase the flow of oxygen to the entire body and also reduce stress.


You need stress in your life, does that surprise you? Perhaps so, but it is quite true. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting. Stress adds flavour, challenge and opportunity to life. Too much stress, however, can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. In recent years several high profile personalities have died suddenly and we recognise that most of them lived highly stressful lives, which finally took its toll. But how many times have we been surprised by the premature death of someone we know, a friend or family member, who on the outside seemed to be healthy and active with a good diet. Unfortunately, what is going on with major organs inside the body tell a different story. Stress is silent and can be deadly.

What causes a stress reaction?

Stress is the modern day equivalent of our ancestral ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that was necessary in the highly competi­tive and predatory world throughout our evolution. There may no longer be sabre-toothed tigers or mammoths in our world but the modern day alternatives can be just as daunting.

A threatening or tense situation triggers this stress response demanding that we take physical action. Unfortunately most modern day stress involves situations that we cannot run away from; such as relationship issues, a demanding job and boss and not forgetting the traffic jams on the way home.

There are two types of stress, Acute Stress and Chronic Stress, and both have very distinctive patterns.

radio stress

Acute Stress is a short-term response by the body’s sympa­thetic nervous system and the response may only last for a few minutes or a few weeks. How many times have you said that your heart stopped or your stomach lurched during a moment of intense stress such as an accident? We have all heard stories of mothers and fathers who have been suddenly infused with superhuman strength and able to lift cars and other heavy objects off their trapped children. They are empowered to do this by the actions of their body in a moment of crisis.

Blood sugar levels rise and additional red blood cells are released to carry strength giving oxygen levels a boost. The pulse quickens, blood pressure rises and the digestive process stops to enable the focus to be entirely on regaining safety.

Chronic Stress is when this acute stress response is repeated on a continuous basis. Whilst the body, after a hundred thousand years, is well able to handle the occasional stress response and in fact uses it positively, if the response becomes a normal way of life, other parts of the brain and body become involved leading to long term damage.

For example, ongoing stress causes the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which are the master controllers for the body, to release a chemical called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) which stimulates the adrenal gland to produce and release cortisol which disrupts sleep patterns leading to increased levels of stress. Our bodies are simply not designed to live at high alert for sustained periods of time; it just wears it down leading to illness.

How can we manage this modern day stress that is going to be a part of our lives in one way or another?

A major challenge in this stress filled world today is to make the stress in your life work for you instead of against you. Stress is with us all the time. It comes from mental, emotional and physical activity. It is unique and personal to each of us because we all handle it in a different way. So personal in fact that what may be relaxing for one person may be extremely stressful to another.

Too much emotional or mental stress can cause physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, ulcers or even heart disease, whereas physical stress from work or exercise is not likely to cause these problems. The truth is that physical exercise can help you relax and to handle your emotional and mental stress. Following a healthy diet that provides you with all the essential nutrients to help your body manage stress is even more important.

Symptoms of stress can be subtle such as fatigue, insom­nia, depression, headaches, back or neck pain, irritability and sudden weight loss or gain. The less common but more damaging are heart palpitations, shortness of breath, diar­rhoea, nausea, panic attacks, inability to concentrate and chronic fear.

Many people resort to stimulants such as smoking, alcohol or even drugs in the efforts to calm themselves down but in fact they are merely stoking the fires and increasing the levels of stress on the body, which can lead to disease.

A Word about Diet and stress

A healthy diet is absolutely necessary whatever lifestyle we have but if we are under excessive levels of stress then it becomes critical.

Make sure that you are hydrated. Dehydration is a leading physical cause of stress and you need at least 2 litres of fresh, pure water per day and more if you are on holiday or living in very hot climates.

There are some vitamins and minerals which the body needs to handle stress especially as during a stress interval the body will use up additional reserves of many nutrients. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are necessary and here are a few of the particular nutrients that will help you handle the stress in your life.

  • Vitamin A mops up the toxic residue of elevated stress hormone levels. (Liver, fish oils, butter, cheese, Free range eggs, oily fish and Beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin A from carrots, green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli, orange and red coloured vegetables such as apricots)
  • Vitamin B1 improves your mood and is vital for nerve function. (Whole grains, seeds, peas, beans and nuts.)
  • Vitamin B3 helps you regulate your sleep patterns. (Liver, brewer’s yeast, chicken, turkey, fish, meat, peanuts, whole-grains, eggs and milk.)
  • Vitamin B5, better known as Pantothenic Acid, controls the action of the adrenal glands, which play a vital part in the stress response. (Liver, yeast, salmon, dairy, eggs, grains, meat and vegetables.)
  • Vitamin B6 is essential for the manufacture of the brain chemical serotonin, which is also called the feel good chemical. (Potatoes, bananas, cereals, lentils, liver, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, avocados, soybeans, walnuts and oats.)
  • Vitamin B12 is necessary to help produce brain chemicals such as serotonin (dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish, for vegetarians in Miso and Tempeh both fermented soybean products)
  • Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that is used up very quickly during a stress reaction and needs to be replaced immediately as a deficiency leads to increased levels of anxiety and irritability. Smokers should take in Vitamin C in their diet and under the supervision of a professional should also take supplemental Vitamin C. (found in all fruit and vegetables but best sources are blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, parsley, peppers, rosehips, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.)

Minerals necessary to help the body manage stress

Calcium helps you relax. (Dairy, sardines, canned salmon with the bones, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and soy products such as tofu.)

Magnesium works with calcium and also helps to reduce stress. (Whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish)

Chromium stabilises blood sugar levels that create stress. (Brewer’s yeast, onions, whole grains, shellfish, liver and molasses)

Don’t allow your stress levels today creep up on you unawares in 20 year’s time, deal with it today.


Men’s Health Week Revisited – Some statistics and the posts to come.

men's health

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

I have worked with both men and women in my capacity as a health counsellor.  For weight management, but also pre-operative preparation and post-operative nutritional support. Men in particular will admit to only going to the doctor after several months of worrying symptoms or because they were nagged by their wives.

It is recognised that far too many men are being diagnosed with potentially fatal diseases too late.

There are a number of actually quite valid reasons for this. Some are personal, cultural and genetic! However, over the next few weeks as we revisit the posts from last year; I hope to convince all men to look at this from a different perspective.

If you have a partner and a family you owe it to them to be around for a very long time. If single you owe it to yourself to look after your greatest asset, which is your health. The reasons for not being checked are easily worked around and in my first post  I will show you strategies to do that. Ways to get checked for some of the key indicators to your health. Completely free or at a very reasonable cost, during hours that suit you, often with free expert advice and assistance thrown in.

During the the rest of the series I will post articles on the male reproductive system with symptoms you should be aware of. Prostate Cancer and how early diagnosis and targeted treatment can save your life.  Heart disease and symptoms to be keep an eye open for. Stress and how to manage to prevent your body developing many physical and mental lifestyle related health issues. Diabetes and how you, and the person buying and preparing your food, need to work together to reduce your risk. I also have a six week programme to reduce both Blood Pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

I will be taking a look at some of the silent killers that we invite into our lives. One in particular would seem to be very innocuous.. and 11billion of them are eaten each year in the UK alone.

There are some guest posts lined up from men who have shared their health experiences and those of members of their families. Delighted that Geoff Le Pard, Kevin Cooper and John Maberry have contributed.

I hope that you will join me next Monday for the start of Men’s Health Week revisited and help spread the message to #Getchecked.