No matter what your age, exercise will improve your mood and your health. Get moving and have fun.
No matter what your age, exercise will improve your mood and your health. Get moving and have fun. Purestock

Anxiety at all time high

A NEW survey of Australian women of all ages has found more than 40% have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression.

The study, of 10,000 women aged 18 to 80 years, was carried out by not-for-profit, government-funded organisation Jean Hailes for Women's Health.

And 60% of women also said they weren't active enough and reported themselves as "slightly” or "quite” overweight. Being tired, or not having enough time, were two of the reasons cited.

Study authors said this was a concern because getting enough exercise was crucial to reducing stress and helping maintain mental health.

The study also found the biggest health concerns of women across all ages were menopause, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, bowel health and painful sex.

So, what are the simplest things you can do to stay happy and healthy or improve your mood and your weight?

Try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if it is only walking. If you have arthritis, a stationary exercise bike or swimming can be good. Gardening is an excellent choice, too, because it's outdoors and can be reasonably gentle.

Diet-wise, checking you are eating plenty of wholegrains and root vegetables to feed your nervous system and watch alcohol consumption - it can make anxiety and depression worse.

Bulk up on green vegetables, reduce saturated fats and sugars, increase consumption of good fats from fish, olive oil, seeds and avocados and drink lots of water.

Reducing stressful media - the six o-clock news and current affairs, for example - and screen time and replacing it with creative pursuits or interaction with friends can also have a positive effect on mood and weight, especially if you are a TV snacker.

Talk to your health practitioner if you feel your anxiety or depression is not getting better.

Mind

Scientific studies show meditating can reduce pain and anxiety and even help us live longer.

If it's not for you, here's some good news: Anything you do that gets you in the "flow” is a form of meditation. It may be a game, hobby, craft, writing, drawing, or even listening to your favourite music.

The test: Whether that wheel in your mind that goes over and over worries stops because you are so absorbed in what you are doing

So, go on, get busy. Make something, do something, or relax with something and let your mind completely switch off any kind of rumination or negativity.

Any activity that puts you in the
Any activity that puts you in the "flow” can be considered a meditation. moodboard

Boost energy

If you are tired all the time, you're not alone. Boredom, worry, an over-busy lifestyle and even screen time that can interfere with the hormone melatonin that guarantees a good night's rest, means many of us are exhausted.

Restful sleep, good diet, reduced stress, regular exercise and sensible drinking is the first step to improving fatigue.

However, GP Dr Michael Elstein says optimal functioning including energy production is not only dependent on ensuring that we are getting all the vital proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals for our cells to function optimally but that we have sufficient quantities of acid and enzymes in digestive juices to break down the foods we eat.

If you've witnessed the rise and rise of fermented foods - quality yoghurt, sauerkraut and exotic kimchi - you may have also keyed into the fact that these, too, are linked with feeling good.

"Research indicates that our emotions, mental function and the regulation of our circadian rhythms which allow us to enjoy restful sleep hinge on the germs which reside in our gut,” Dr Elstein says.

It is also worth checking that you are getting enough of these energy essential vitamins: Iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin B12. A blood test may be needed to identify what particular nutrients you are lacking in.

In brief

Gadget of the week: Blue light from screens may seriously affect sleep quality, a study published in the journal Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics has found. The solution? UVEX blue-blocker glasses, $22, at OptimOz.com.au

Vegetable of the week: Broccoli contains a natural chemical called sulforaphane that can help fight cancer. It's also a a great source of vitamins K and C, folic acid, potassium, fibre and Vitamin C. We like it stirfried with ginger, garlic and sweet soy, but it's also great steamed and drizzled with olive oil.

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Broccoli tastes great and can help fight cancer.

Helen Hawkes is a lifestyle editor and leading wellness writer. She is also a partner in Life Makeovers, a coaching and counselling business that helps clients reduce negatives in their life and be healthier and happier. www.helenhawkes.org