I have a rare cherry tree planted outside of the kitchen door. It has spread its branches to cross the kitchen window. The tree is a heritage English morello cherry brought into North America by a pioneering family two hundred years ago. I even know where the original cherry seed came from—a little village in County Wexford, Ireland. Every summer cherry pies from this tree grace my table. This spring I saw a magical event. The cherry was in full bloom. The cast of the sky was grey and it had been raining for a few days. The flowers were a startling white and looked like a cluster of stars. The green leaves had not yet unfurled, so the snowstorm of blossom was mine to admire. You might not be talking about it, because mental health in the workplace is still a taboo subject.
Then a Baltimore oriole dropped into the picture, its brilliant orange a flame against the grey and white. The bird tipped its beak into the cup of one of the flowers and drank the nectar-rich water greedily. The bird emptied the flower and hopped to the next one, staying until his hunger and thirst had gone. The oriole had the deft ability of the acrobat, the magic of movement. Such coordination and beauty in this bird caught me in a pearl of thought, about the length of time it took to complete this act of evolution to the point of perfection in the bird. Millions and millions of years. There are small, simple steps you can take to make hr app something that people can talk about.
An internal building block makes such movement possible. I mean all movement: the thought processes of the bird’s brain, telling him of his hunger after his long flight from southern Mexico; his ability to drink; my stealthy movement on tiptoe to look at him out the window; the movement of my eyes, seeing; the innermost thought forming in my brain; and the memory being stored. The building block for all these movements is omega-3 fatty acid, which we see advertised everywhere nowadays. Omega-3 does not have the usual square shape of a building block. It is shaped like a bullet, a perfect missile sculpted for molecular movement. This little missile fires itself by electrical transmission, the way the message of electricity moves along a telephone line, from the sender to the receiver. Messages are necessary in the body. The cells of the arm need to communicate with the cells of the brain. Even within the organ of the heart, each myocardial cell needs to connect with its neighbouring myocardial cell to keep the beat moving. Omega-3 wires the body, connecting the brain to itself and to the rest of the body in the neural pathways, insulated by a myelin sheath, which surrounds the nerve fibres. Omega-3 also wallpapers the membranes of the retina to form the visual images translated and transported by the optic nerve into the brain. Whether you work with 10 people, 10000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health first aid has never been more important.
On an ordinary day omega-3, gleaned from your daily diet, is stored in the liver. Strictly speaking there are three omega fatty acids—oleic, linoleic and linolenic—that are essential to the diet. Linolenic acid is probably the most valuable of all three and also the most rare. All three fatty acids are the building blocks that maintain and manufacture crucial biochemicals in the liver for the body. They mastermind the health of the body. Their full story is still the subject of research and will be for a long time. A reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement, can make employee wellbeing higher on the agenda.
Life with very little omega-3 changes the chemistry of the brain itself, resulting in attention deficit disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, memory loss, schizophrenia, even suicide …
So eat foods rich in omega-3s, those of the old-fashioned kind: whole wheat breads with flax or enriched with the endosperm of seeds, such as wheat germ; legumes such as soya beans and peanuts; corn and sunflower seeds as well as poppy seeds; lamb and saltwater fish, especially mackerel and all sardines; most nuts, including hickories and walnuts; olive oil and nut oils; and eggs laid by happy hens that have been enjoying fresh air and wallops of sunshine. Nature’s best, in other words.