Nutrition plays a vital role in emotional health. While we tend to view healthy eating as a necessary part of physical wellbeing, we seem to forget that our brains are a part of our physical make-up. Our brains need fuel too.
There are some fantastic advancements in the science of nutrition, all of them worthy of your time and attention. But in summary, fruits and vegetables remain top of the list for providing your brain with the building blocks for healthy happy chemistry. Surprised? No, surely you're not.
When we are emotionally drained, feeling guilty or angry or even mildly frustrated, we crave foods that match how we feel. There isn't anyone lying on a couch suffering from depression who craves a green smoothie. Unfortunately, that low energy place begets more of its kind. We continue to fuel our brains with the very foods that help us remain in that emotionally compromised state. A hunk of meat stuffed into a cardboard bun. Greasy french fries. A bag of chips. These foods take a long time to digest and use up valuable energetic resources as they do. We feel more depressed, more guilty, and more frustrated.
Taking a giant leap into healthy eating isn't going to last any length of time. Any dramatic change is doomed for failure. Instead, we encourage you to learn a little about the science behind what our brain requires for healthy-happy chemistry. We teach these tools in session, but there are also loads of articles you can sift through that will help build a working knowledge of what it takes to feed your happy brain.
Have you ever seen a grumpy jogger? They don't exist. Exercise is the hallmark of healthy happy living, and it comes easily to those who are healthy and happy. Just the very thought of finding the energy to include fitness in your life can be exhausting, when you're feeling blue. Seems a cruel joke when it’s the very thing that will boost your brain back into business.
We encourage you to instead, poke around for some childhood recreational activities that you remember fondly. It doesn't matter if your body doesn't quite fit the toboggan, take a run down a snowy hill. Your feet probably haven't outgrown your rollerskates? Dig them out of your basement and take a tour down the nearest bike path. A level one. Pay a one-time fee to make use of your local pool and paddle around with no particular agenda. Remind your body how good movement feels, and it will begin to crave more experiences that make that possible.
Physical fitness has been proven to realign brain chemistry and this restoration project can be kick-started by reminding your body of how good it feels to play. Go easy, as not to scare yourself off in one overly ambitious session. But rather, sneak in some exercise a little at a time and you’ll be on your feet before you know it.
Don’t do… anything.
A state of relaxation can be pretty tough to achieve these days. We are inundated with bleeping mobile phones and social media. We are accessible every minute of the day awake or asleep. It's a lot of stimulation and our nervous system feels it. Just because we’re acclimatized to the crazy, doesn’t make it any less crazy.
Relaxation can mean many things. For some, floating along in a tin boat with a fishing rod is bliss on water. Other people find themselves happily surrendered to a good book on a comfy couch. Yoga and meditation have been getting a lot of press of late. Curiously enough, both create a shortcut or neural network in the brain to self-soothe on the spot.
But you don't need to be a Buddha on a mountaintop to experience enlightenment. Getting lost in the woods on a warm spring day can surge the very same relaxation chemistry that Transcendental Meditation can produce. Find the place that soothes you most, and begin your daily practice. You are a quick one. You’ll catch on before you know it.