Although studies show vegans enjoy a healthy lifestyle if they eat a predominantly whole-foods, balanced diet, they are as susceptible to worry, anxiety, and depression as vegetarians and meat-eaters.  And in this current period of constant uncertainty and bad news, it is essential that those following a vegan diet look after their minds as carefully as their bodies.

Below are five positive steps to help you protect your mental health during these turbulent times.

Get out in nature

In harsh economic times it can be tempting to spend long hours at your desk, desperately trying to prove how invaluable you are to your employer.  However, this strategy is guaranteed to make you feel tired and sluggish, which could end up affecting your ability to work effectively.  Taking time out at lunchtime to go for a walk or run through a park or, if you are working from home, along one of the hundreds of public footpaths that cross the country, will put you in a bright frame of mind upon return.  Try to be mindful and look at the trees and wildlife as you go.  If you have the space, plant a few vegetables and/or flowers in your garden and spend time tending to it each day.

Feed your mind

What you eat can drastically affect your mood.  Vegans should concentrate on creating colourful dishes full of brown rice and quinoa, both of which are packed with protein, mushrooms, dark chocolate, leafy greens, grapes, and walnuts.  Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D and C as well as magnesium, iron, and folic acid will help you maintain a positive mood.

Limit your news intake

With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and Coronavirus, it can be tempting to constantly check your phone for news updates.  Studies have clearly linked excessive news consumption to increased anxiety and depression.

If you want to stay informed, limit your news intake to once a day.  And keep in mind, to sell advertisements, online news sources must continuously come up with distressing headlines to capture our attention.  The speed in which new information must be published to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle leaves little room for analysis, or even accuracy.

To counteract the negative effects of news, try balancing your information absorption with time in nature and activities that boost your wellbeing.

Get a hobby

Many people used lockdown to reconnect with hobbies such as gardening, baking, knitting, and reading.  A hobby is one of the best ways to spend your free time and unwind from your day.  Research has shown that people with hobbies rarely suffer from stress, depression, and low mood.  Therefore, it is vital for mental health to find and spend time doing activities you know make you feel happier and more relaxed.

Connect with friends and family

Although the ability to get together with friends and family has been restricted, it is important to stay in touch as much as possible.  The more personal the contact the better – a phone call is more conducive to wellbeing than a WhatsApp message, a face to face encounter better than one on Zoom.  However, the ‘something is better than nothing’ rule applies – a thoughtful message can brighten yours or someone else’s day.

And right now, we all need a little kindness and connection.