9. The Physiological Performance Dashboard
Although this chart always brings a laugh, it is actually the cornerstone of 'How To Protect Your Mental Health".
These 3 simple feedback loops empower us to manage our health, both physically and mentally. This is the best way to spot changes that could eventually be detrimental to our mental health.
This is our early warning system where a change in sleep patterns could indicate a lack of safety or an issue that could be shameful.
A change in bowel habits or hydration indicates an impending change in moods and behaviour. Small adjustment here can ensure "A Healthy Brain"
Food - Sausage Poo
What we eat and drink affects our toileting. When we eat sufficient vegetables and fruit, and drink sufficient water, we make a sausage poo. When we don’t, we struggle to poo regularly and may only produce bunny bullets. Constipation makes us feel yucky and can be quite painful. Research shows more and more children are constipated and medicated for it, when diet will generally rectify the problem. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit will produce a sausage poo which is easily and regularly expelled, and results in improved mood and behaviour.
Water - White Wee
When we drink enough water to properly hydrate our body, our wee is a pale, wheat colour. We call this white wee for small children. Small children can learn to manage these feedback loops and are very interested in wee and poo, so start early. When we aren’t drinking enough water (yellow or orange wee), we may have headaches and feel tired, lethargic and demotivated.
Sleep - Smiley Face
Good or poor sleep shows on our face and through our behaviour. When we awake and feel good, we know we have have sufficient sleep. If we are cranky and whinge a lot, we need extra sleep and rest. Having boundaries around our sleep needs will ensure we go to bed early enough to have good and sufficient sleep. Removing technology from bedrooms and stopping screen use one hour prior to sleep time will assist also.
Sugar - Hyperactivity
Sugar inhibits sleep and ideally is not to be consumed after lunch. Too much sugar makes us hyper and creates problems with learning and attention as our brain races to cope with the energy spike. As the sugar rush subsides, we generally have a sugar slump and feel irritable, tired and flat. Sugar is added to almost everything these days. Some examples which people use regularly are - Fruit Juice which contains about 7 teaspoons of sugar, Soft Drinks and Flavoured Milk Drinks, both contain about 10 teaspoons, a large thick shake (from Hungry Jacks or MacDonalds) contains around 27 teaspoons of sugar. Learn to read labels: 4g = 1 teaspoon. Fruit is a great and healthy substitute for something sweet. You can retrain your taste buds!
Food, Water, Sleep and Sugar consumption affects our thinking, mood, behaviour and therefore our well-being.
The basic needs are provided for children by their parents. As children grow, it is important to empower them to make wise choices, as in no time they will be young adults and will need to make their own choices concerning how they care for themselves. Self Care is paramount to Mental Health. The mental health of many young adults becomes compromised as they leave home to live on their own. Often, in enjoying their freedom, they overlook their brain's fundamental requirements for healthy food, water and sleep.
About New Mothers
A condition often diagnosed as Post-Natal Depression can be a combination of interrupted sleep, poor nutrition due to the breast feeding, dehydration caused by milk production and constant personal boundary infringements by the baby. If you notice that a new mother is not coping well with her new responsibilities, you can organise for others to help with small sections of the problem. The helpers can ensure that the mother is fed well by bringing occasional meals, arranging some personal time to give the mother regular breaks and much needed sleep. These are small things that can make an enormous difference to the person’s mental health. This assistance can help to save a marriage and ensure that the new mother does not enter a cycle of diagnosis, stigma, medication and social isolation.
"Maybe it is because these feedback signs are so simple that many adults fail to appreciate their true value as an holistic emotional health diagnostic.
Following-up on our 'Amazing Brain Show' in Early learning Centres, where we established more than 12,000 Wee Police, educators and families regularly tell of behavioural improvement since the kids started checking for "Orange Wee", "Sausage Poo" and "Morning Smiles"