I love being British. I love our unanimous love for tea and biscuits. I love the mutual understanding with passers-by that we will ignore each other. I love that the weather is something we all find interesting. I love that we feel the need to apologise for everything that has ever happened. I love our sarcasm, that we can laugh at ourselves and our total inability to say what we mean. I don’t love our ‘stiff upper lip’.
In Britain, having a stiff upper lip can be seen as a desirable attribute; the ability to ‘stay strong’ and hide your emotions in the face of adversity. But in reality it can be a dangerous trait, suggesting that expression emotion is a sign of weakness and encouraging us to mask how we feel. A great article in VICE magazine entitled ‘A stiff upper lip is killing British men’ highlights how the risk on physical health, but I want to mention how it can impact mental health.
We have to recognise that we are human – anger and sadness are an important part of life, and experiencing and accepting these emotions is critical to our mental health. In fact, it is likely that negative emotions developed as a survival mechanism to help focus our attention on certain issue. Research suggests that suppressing emotions can have negative effects on psychological health. When we don’t deal with our feelings, emotions come out in different ways, such as alcohol or drug addictions, anxiety, panic attacks, depression and eating disorders. For example, one study found that suppressing negative emotions could spawn more emotional overeating than simply recognizing and accepting them.
Another major issue with the stoic, british stiff upper lip is that it encourages the stigma against mental illness. We are encouraged to think that having emotions is a weakness or makes us crazy. The rate of mental disorders is steadily on the rise. Unfortunately, many people don’t ask for help because the are afraid they’ll be considered weak or laughed at. People have become so scared of talking about emotions that they find it difficult to even acknowledge psychological problems that friends and family may be having.
Actually, our emotions are completely warranted and everyone has ups and downs. If you find someone who doesn’t, you can safely assume they are robot. Accepting our emotions and talking about them can not only reduce mental health problems, but can help others to seek help and feel more comfortable with their problems.
I think this advert from the ‘Time to Change’ campaign sums it up really nicely…
If someone broke their arm, we would ask them how they were feeling. It should be the same with mental illness, if someone is suffering we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.
I know this post wasn’t really food related, but I think it is a really important and relevant topic that needs to be discussed. In the spirit of being British and I’ve created a healthy alternative for our national dish- fish and chips!
For the almond crusted fish..
1 fish fillet (I used salmon but any white fish will work too)
1/2 cup flaked almonds
splash of lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 180.
2. Mix almonds, lemon juice, paprika, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Spread layer of mustard over fish then coat with almond mixture, pressing it into the mustard
4. Bake the fish for about 8 mins, until cooked through.
For the celeriac chips…
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Peel the celeriac and slice in thick chips
2. Blanche chips-place in boiling salt water for 2-mins to soften
3. Place chips on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper and curry powder
4. Bake on 180 for about 30-40mins or until golden and crispy.
For the mushy peas…
1 cup peas
1 cup broccoli florets
almond or soya milk (can use normal milk for non-vegan)
Fresh mint leaves
1. Boil peas and broccoli until soft
2. Add salt, pepper, milk and mint leaves and mash or blend until smooth.