With Mental Health Awareness Day coming up on 10th October, we caught up with Rosie Millen, nutritionist and spokesperson for leading gut health brand, Bio-Kult, to chat about all things related to mental health, burnout and taking care of yourself.
1. Could you tell our readers a little about yourself.
I’m a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist who set up my company Miss Nutritionist in 2010.
In 2014 I collapsed from too much stress and was bed bound for three years straight. After being diagnosed with severe burnout I had to make a lot of difficult changes to get back on my feet. Now I’m 100% recovered I specialise in fatigue and help men and women to regain their energy just by making changes to their diet and lifestyle.
I’ve personally coached thousands of women to increase their energy, helped multiple companies give their employees more energy and written hundreds of blog posts on how to recovery from burnout and have just published my first book on the subject: Burnout’s a B*tch - the antidote to the overworked world we live in.
2. Where did your love of health and nutrition come from?
When I was studying drama at university, I was totally blown away by the power of food as medicine and was convinced that helping people with their diet was the reason I was put on this planet!
3. With world mental health day on the 10th October – how does health and nutrition contribute to our mental wellbeing?
What you eat massively dictates how you think, feel and behave. Making the right food choices can make you feel emotionally stronger, and a healthy diet helps your brain and body work efficiently, too. Conversely, if you consume foods that raise cortisol and trigger anxiety, then your mental webbing will be affected.
4. How can we tackle burnout now we’re slowly returning to the office after a long-awaited 18 months?
Here are my top tips:
You get burnout because your plate is already full, but you keep on adding to it. Your life will always feel 100mph if you don’t stop or slow down. What can you stop doing? Where is your life can you say no? No amount of pushing will heal burnout. Rest and patience are the bottom line.
Identifying your stressors
If you don’t eliminate your stressors, you will just be adding fuel to the fire. Ask yourself – who or what is zapping your energy right now? How can you reduce your exposure to that stressor OR modify your response to it?
It’s just as important to set boundaries as much as setting goals otherwise your will overload yourself and burnout. Learn to say no without explaining yourself. Set boundaries – start small and be consistent. START WITH JUST ONE!
Take regular breaks
Make sure you are having intervals during the day to breathe and get away from current stressors. Studies suggest that taking regular breaks improves concentration, memory, and focus!
Take time out
Take time away from your stressors and relax. You can’t heal in the same place you got sick! Recharging your batteries is fundamental otherwise you won’t have a choice but to take time off if you’ve burnt out hard like I did. Prevention is key!
5. Why is a healthy work life balance so important? And how can we maintain this?
Because if you work yourself to the bone and don’t look after yourself it’s the fastest way to burnout! And trust me, you don’t want to go through what I had. Chronic stress can also negatively impact mental health because it's linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and insomnia.
6. Do you have any tips for someone who may be nervous/anxious about starting a new health/positive mental wellbeing journey?
Start small and start slowly. Success comes down to the changes you make, but not all in one go. Remember to keep learning by asking for help and guidance. Reading books and listening to podcasts are great ways to boost your motivation and confidence when starting something new.
7. What foods/recipes would you recommend to help fight against stress and anxiety and all round can improve our mental health?
Here are my top tips:
Eat more protein
Protein foods such as chicken, fish, quinoa lentils etc don’t affect blood glucose which mean your mood will be improved. Protein foods also contain an amino acid called tryptophan which gets converted into serotonin in the body - the happy hormone. You need roughly a gram of protein per kilo of bodyweight.
Manage your caffeine intake
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep (especially if you have it before bed). Swap if for caffeine-free alternatives.
A healthy gut is a happy one and a happy gut is a happy mind! Probiotics are friendly bacteria living in our intestines and known for aiding digestion, boosting the immune system and cleaning the gut. They’re a key contributor to the health of the gut-brain axis and have a calming effect on the body. A happy gut means a happy brain. Your gut provides fuel for the brain and affects all the biochemistry and neurotransmitters. An example of a probiotic you could try is Bio-Kult Brighten, which is an advanced multi-action formulation designed to bring out your inner smile. It’s formulated with the same great 14 strains found in the original best-selling product, but also benefits from the addition of vitamins B6 and B12, which contribute to normal psychological function as well as the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Bio-Kult Brighten also includes vitamin D and zinc which alongside vitamins B6 and B12, contribute to the normal function of the immune system – available to buy from bio-kult.
8. In 2014, you were diagnosed with Adrenal fatigue – could you tell us a little about that? And what do you do to help manage this?
7 years ago in 2014, I was walking in the park when all of a sudden I felt really dizzy. Before I knew it, my knees went from underneath me and I collapsed to the ground. I freaked out because nothing like that had ever happened to me before. So I got into a taxi, went home, climbed into bed and basically stayed there for the next three years.
I couldn't move – I was completely paralyzed from exhaustion. I found it difficult to complete small tasks like going to the loo or having a shower. At my worst I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. I slept and slept but no amount of sleep would make me feel better, so I did what anyone would do in that situation, and I took myself to the doctors.
But when the results came back, I was told that there was nothing wrong with me. I went home frustrated and alone. Weeks went by and I didn’t understand why I felt SO exhausted still. Fed up with not being able to move, I decided to figure it out for myself. So I did a tone of reading, went to see loads of alternative practitioners, ran multiple tests and everything eventually pointed to the same thing: that I had completely burnt out.
Burnout’ s a bitch! And I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. You get burnout when your plate is already full but you just keep on adding to it. And you’re probably wondering what the hell was I doing before I collapsed! Well, I was working like a freight train. I said yes to everything, didn't sleep properly, didn't eat properly, was over-exercising and just not looking after myself. I had multiple stressors and ignored them all.
Today I’m very happy to say that I am 100% recovered. But I needed to make a lot of changes to get here, and it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I want to share my knowledge with all of you, and that’s why I’ve written this
9. Your social media is full of positivity, health advice and food inspiration – How important is it to connect to others who are following your journey and joining you along the way?
Since I recovered from burnout, I’ve felt obligated to spread my message and help people all over the world to get back on their feet. My Instagram platform has really allowed me to do that. Every day I get messages from people telling me they really resonate with my story and have been through similar journeys. It’s nice to have that level of inspiration.
10. What’s does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Now that the world is opening up again, I’ll be focusing on public speaking at real life evets! So lots more of that which is what I love the most.
For more information, visit: www.bio-kult.com