Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Team are focusing on Healthy Habits this month.

The reason for sharing information and resources in relation to this topic is because during the Christmas break, a lot of us may fall out of routine in relation to exercise, sleep and our diet, which is due to the fact that Christmas, for many of us, is a time for indulgence. This means we may eat and drink more than usual, have late nights and may not have the same energy levels for exercise. Even if this does not apply to you, January is still a great time to try something new or develop healthier habits.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise, sleep and diet as everyone is different. We have therefore asked our people at Maxwell Hodge to think about doing what is right for them:

  • Thinking about how much sleep they need;
  • What exercise feels best for their mind and body; and
  • What food and nutrients make them feel full and energised?

Supporting Wellbeing

Mind provide a range of tips to support wellbeing, which includes taking a break (whether that be a break at work, a break from a stressful situation or task, or a break from social media), connecting with others, spending time in nature as well as trying to get enough sleep and looking after your physical health.

Mind also provide helpful guidance on how to start caring for your own wellbeing. This is essential advice for building any healthy habit, which is to: only try what feels comfortable, give yourself time to figure out what works for you, going at your own pace and taking small steps by picking one or two things that feel achievable at first, before moving on to try other ideas.

Improving Sleep

Just like there are many ways to improve our physical health, there are different ways that we can improve our sleep habits. The Sleep Foundation explores four different categories aimed at improving sleep. These are: 1-Creating a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom; 2-Optimising Your Sleep Schedule; 3-Crafting a Pre-Bed time Routine and 4-Fostering Pro-Sleep Habits During the Day. This can lead to improved sleep because you are:

  1. Designing your sleep environment to maximise comfort and minimise distractions.
  2. Developing a schedule for your benefit including having a fixed wake-up time, being careful with naps and budgeting the right amount of time for sleep
  3. Using healthy habits to combat sleep problems. Try: winding down for at least 30 minutes before bed, lower the lights and disconnect from devices.
  4. Developing healthy habits for use in the day. This includes getting sufficient daylight, finding time for exercise and monitoring caffeine intake.

Improving Diet and Physical Health

The Mental Health Foundation explore the link between diet and mental health. They describe the relationship as ‘complex’ but state that research shows that there is a link between what we eat and how we feel. They also state that we do not need to make big changes but can try some of the following tips:


  • Eating regularly – as this can stop blood sugar level dropping. When blood sugar levels drop, this can make you feel tired and bad-tempered.
  • Staying hydrated – as even mild dehydration can negatively affect mood and energy levels. Dehydration also affects our ability to concentrate.
  • Eating the right balance of fats – as our brains need healthy fats to keep working well. This includes foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados as well as olive oil and rapeseed oil.
  • Incorporating more whole grains, fruits* and vegetables in your diet, as they contain the vitamins and minerals our brain and body require to stay well.
  • Including some protein with every meal. This is because protein contains an amino acid brains use to help regulate mood.
  • Looking after your gut health through fruit*, vegetables, beans and probiotics. This is important as your gut can reflect how you are feeling. E.g., if stressed it can speed up or slow down.
  • Being mindful of the impact caffeine can have on your mood. E.g., if consumed too close to bedtime, it can cause sleep problems.

* In addition, studies show that eating more fruit can improve mental health and is therefore something we should all do more of to improve both physical and psychological health.

We recognise that not everyone has a healthy relationship with food and often, people will use food as a negative coping mechanism. It is therefore important to know where to access help and resources if you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, or would like to access information to be able to support a friend, family member or colleague. You can check out the Mental Health Foundation for more information (see link below).

If you are struggling to understand what you should eat, you can also look at the Eatwell Guide, which provides advice on eating healthily and achieving a balanced diet.

As well as having a healthy diet, it is important to exercise regularly as ‘physical activity is not only good for your body, but it’s also great for your mind’ (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). This is because when we are active, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good! Other benefits include improved focus and motivation, a healthy appetite, a sense of achievement as well as suffering from less stress and mental fatigue. Exercise such as group exercise and walking can also be a great way to meet people.

Some people, particularly those experiencing poor mental or physical health, those with a disability or health condition or those on medication may find it hard to be active. However, there is information available on the Mental Health Foundation website to support you – see link below. The important piece of advice to remember is to do the right physical exercise for you. This means working with your mind and body as well as your mood to ensure that you are capable of the exercise but also enjoy it.


Physical activity and mental health: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/physical-activity-and-mental-health