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New Report on Electronic Media and SleepĀ 

 

 Tim Culbert, MD and Henry Emmons MD

 

The debate continues to rage as to whether cell phones, computers and other electronic devices are essential to our daily functioning or whether we should seriously consider eliminating these devices as much as possible due to the problems that excessive utilization of these gadgets can lead to. A new report just released from the Common Sense Media organization, titled The New Normal: Parents, Teens, Screens, and Sleep in the United States, details these troubling trends. As we always say at Natural Mental Health, “sleep is the foundation of good mental health.” We may be creating a generation of sleep-deprived teens, kids and parents and our favorite technologies may be a big part of the problem!

Benefits of Using Electronics

On one hand, there are smartphone apps that teach great skills such as mindfulness meditation and encourage physical fitness practices. In schools, many students are loaned a computer or...

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5-HTP for Anxiousness

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

ps: Be sure to read Part 1 of this series! 

pps: some of these natural therapies are not ideal for all types of anxiety. Visit our Calm Section to learn your calm subtype and tailor your approach.

 

5-HTP Benefits | 5-HTP and Anxiety

5-HTP is the best studied of the “precursor strategies.” That's a strategy where you try to increase production of a neurotransmitter by adding more of the raw materials. 5-HTP is similar to tryptophan (the amino acid that gets converted into serotonin)—5-HTP is the intermediate step in that process. Both are effective ways to boost serotonin levels, but tryptophan is more sedating so I usually reserve that for sleep problems. 5-HTP can also help sleep, but may be used during the daytime as well because it is not usually sedating. Considerable research has shown that 5-HTP can reduce anxiety, both general and panic, as well as...

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Calming Stress & Anxiousness with Diet, Supplements, & Herbs (Part 1)

 

by Henry Emmons, MD

[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.

Brain Science 101

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. 

...

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HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training for Resilience in Body and Mind

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.

The Benefits of HIIT

For instance, it can:

  • Improve weight loss, especially for that hard-to-lose abdominal weight.
  • Raise your metabolic rate for 24-48 hours, burning calories long after you’ve exercised.
  • Improve hormone levels, including cortisol, testosterone and human growth hormone.
  • Protect against adult-onset diabetes.
  • Boost energy, focus, and performance.
  • Help slow the aging process.

How to move quickly with interval training:

  1. Choose any activity you like that can be done intensely in brief spurts (20-30 seconds is enough). Good options include walking or running, biking, rowing, using a treadmill or elliptical trainer, swimming, calisthenics, or...
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Restorative Yoga Poses to Support Calm, Focus, and Sleep


By, Elly Hollenhorst

200-Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher

Practice this 5-pose restorative yoga sequence to find calm, connect inwards, and refocus. This sequence can be practiced anytime; upon waking, during your lunch break, or before bed.

Props

  • A yoga mat or other comfortable surface.
  • Pillow or blanket(s).

Instructions

  1. Once you are comfortable in each posture, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  2. Remain as still and unmoving as possible.
  3. Let gravity do the work. Do not pull your body into the positions.*
  4. Rest in each pose for 1-5 minutes resulting in a 5-25 minute practice, depending on how much time you have available. It is helpful to use a timer.

*If a posture feels painful, find another position to better suit your body's needs.

Child's Pose

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...

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Stuck in Stress & Worry? Try These Four Actions to Filter Out Fear

by Henry Emmons, MD

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...

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Understanding Stress & Anxiety: The Evolution of Fear (video)

 

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...

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DST Hangover? Try This Spring-Forward-Better Schedule

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).

Spring-Forward-Better Schedule: Start Springing on Thursday

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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The Science of Compassion: Survival of the Most Compassionate

joy

 

This video explores the scientific secret sauce to living a full and more healthy life. And believe it or not, it only takes eight minutes a day using this shiny, super-expensive, brand new fitness and diet fad... oh wait, nope. The secret sauce is... compassion?! Watch the video to learn more about the power of compassion and how you can put it into practice.

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Sympathetic Joy Meditation

Dr. Emmons and his meditating avocado have a simple, joy-boosting meditation you can practice anywhere. Use this Sympathetic Joy Meditation to let some sweetness in when you're feeling sour or salty.

Why does this kind of meditation work? Learn more about the science of compassion in this video blog. 

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