[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]
Optimizing your brain to support mental health isn't as complex as some experts want you to believe. When you understand the basic functions of your brain, then you can more confidently, effectively, and lovingly care for it.
Neurotransmitters & Your Brain: In order to work properly, your brain must have the right balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters.
How You Balance Neurotransmitters: The only way your brain can produce neurotransmitters is for you to bring the necessary nutrients into your body.
How You Feed Your Brain: The best way to feed your brain for neurotransmitter production is through a good diet (e.g., our NMH Resilient Diet).
What About Supplements? When used properly, however, nutritional supplements and herbal therapies may help restore brain balance, soften the damaging effects of the stress response, and prevent the recurrence of illness.
If you’re in fight or flight stress mode, your body is preparing you for brief, intense bursts of activity, followed by periods of recovery. We are wired for this, and as children we did it all the time. Consider adding occasional brief, intense bursts of movement to your weekly routine. This practice has many benefits.
For instance, it can:
200-Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher
*If a posture feels painful, find another position to better suit your body's needs.
Spread your knees as wide as the mat, bring your big toes to touch. Reach your arms out far in front of you. Rest your forehead on the mat. Let gravity guide your hips towards your heals.
Optional: You can bring a...
Essential oils are a popular cure for... well, just about anything if you do a Google search. Research doesn't support many of those wild claims, but solid support does exist for the use of essential oils for many mental health benefits. Experiences consistent with adrenal fatigue are likely good fits for some oily-application.
Short(ish) answer: using essential oils (aromatherapy) may offer a quick energy and mood boost that can then help support you as you take additional actions that offer more lasting effects.
Considering how safe aromatherapy can be when used properly, it’s worth a try if you have symptoms consistent with what’s commonly understood as adrenal fatigue.
On that note, if you haven’t read our article on adrenal fatigue, read it here. It’s a super helpful summary to get your grounded before you find yourself lost in the dark web...
In his first inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt famously said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Let’s be honest, though—there are plenty of things in this world you may be fearful of. If you walk with fear as a regular companion, however, it creates its own set of problems that go well beyond the thing that generated the fear in the first place.
Fear begets fear. Terrorists use this knowledge as a weapon, aiming to destroy just enough to create a panic. Politicians use fear as a strategy, urging us to vote for them or support their plan in order to avoid the dire consequences that they themselves have planted in our minds like seeds. Marketers use it as an inducement: “Buy this to avoid that….”
It is a uniquely human trait that we can make ourselves sick through our own thinking and that we can spread ideas to one another at a large scale. Under the right circumstances, which we seem to have at...
Why is it that two people facing the same stressful situation can respond so differently? Thousands of years of training is one reason. Throughout human history, it was advantageous to have a vigilant person on high alert to detect danger. The stressful situation would pass, and that person could likely take a break from the stress before ramping up again.
Stressors today are different, but our wiring to be on high alert is still the same. Most folks experience and interpret stressors that are generally low-threat, but constant. Fear then becomes a permanent state as folks worry about the threats at hand and those to come. There is no break from the fear. No rest.
That constant state of fear is unsustainable.
Watch the video to learn more about this evolution of fear. It can help you to be more gentle with yourself when you feel consumed by the experience and symptoms of your stress/fear response.
After the video, visit our special newsletter space to download the Fear...
Perhaps you feel unmotivated, have less interest in things, feel weakness, or an unrelenting achiness in your muscles.
Maybe you want to sleep too much, or simply wake feeling unrested.
Your mood might be sad or down, or perhaps it’s just flat.
But your biggest concern? The one that never seems to go away?
It’s this profound fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is not a term accepted by mainstream medicine. Trying to care for symptoms like those above will usually start with routine blood tests that look for adrenal insufficiency (known as Addison’s disease). The result will likely be normal. Most doctors will then look for other causes of the fatigue, doing routine blood tests to rule out things like low iron, low hemoglobin, or a thyroid problem. After this series, symptoms will usually be attributed to untreated depression or fibromyalgia. Treatments (if any are offered) may focus on symptom relief without ever finding an underlying cause.
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan
Nutrition can be quite confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. Focus on eating a wide variety of whole plant foods and don’t worry about being perfect. The latter advice is key, especially when transitioning from a processed food- or animal product-laden diet to a more health-promoting, plant-based diet--keep yourself successful by celebrating your journey and your progress rather than your perfection. Just as Dr. Henry Emmons recommends to acknowledge your moments of happiness amplify your joy, I can strongly attest to that same principle applying towards acknowledging your feelings of success and pride in your progress.
I believe knowledge is empowerment, and that is no less true for nutrition. Let’s briefly dive into the what and why behind eating plants and provide you with the best scientific resources to make you feel confident on your journey to eating...
“Life is short. Stay awake for it.” Caribou Coffee nailed it with that promotional tagline. It’s funny, memorable and a widely shared sentiment. If we want to get the most out of life, if we don’t want to miss anything, caffeine offers a safe, legal and increasingly pleasurable way to feel more enlivened.
I have nothing against caffeine. In fact, I personally love it. I’ve given it up several times over my life, thinking it might have negative health effects on me. But each time I’ve come back to it, finally accepting that I just plain enjoy it. I like the effect it has on me, the flavor, the ritual and the communal nature of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.
I believe that the research on the health effects from caffeine come out mostly on the side of it having an overall positive impact on health. It’s a legal stimulant. It can temporarily improve energy, focus, even mood. So long as it is not used in excess, it...
Can that one hour spring forward in March really impact sleep? Yes!
Sleep is finicky. It likes a schedule. And Daylight Saving Time (DST) throws it off. Some folks can recover quickly from the one hour shift, but others may feel exhausted and "off" for many days after the time change. The latter is what we call the DST hangover.
If you're looking for a cure, try this simple schedule change to help you spring forward and meet the week in better shape.
p.s. This is also a great schedule change to use with kids. The more gradual change in bedtime and wake time should make their transition easier (aka less crankiness).
This schedule change is pretty simple. Here's the plan:
Go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier than you usually do on the Thursday night before DST. Then, get up 15 minutes earlier than you usually do the next morning (Friday). Follow that with a Friday night bedtime 10-15 minutes earlier than...
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