How to Enhance Your Mood and Tackle Stress
In my previous post, I emphasized how important good quality sleep was to brain health. I highlighted that without good quality sleep it was much more difficult to be in a good mood and to handle stress. When it comes to mood and stress, once you start enforcing good sleep habits, other variables can be very beneficial too, such as improved gut health, exercise, meditation, and positive thinking.
The brain and the gut are continually communicating with one another. Research reveals a clear link between what is happening in the gut and an array of behavioral and mood conditions, along with depression, anxiety, and neurodegenerative diseases. Gut flora imbalances and/or digestive disorders transmit signals to the brain through the central nervous system, giving rise to mood changes.
So in your quest to feeling your best, an important step is to remove foods that do not sustain gut health, such as sugar, refined flour, and industrial seed oils. Focus instead on low-toxin, anti-inflammatory foods. Feeding the good bacteria in your gut by selecting the right foods that work well for you is key.
Exercise (not chronic cardio) naturally helps trigger the release of different beneficial neurotransmitters including GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that soothes nerve activity and lessens anxiety. As psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey explains, “Exercise increases all the neurotransmitters that we target in psychiatry for depression, anxiety and attention, as well as helping deal with cravings and addictions. It also makes us much more social, makes us much more eager to connect to other people.” What else is there to say?
Meditation is the ideal practice to feel more serene in your mind, body, and emotions. When you meditate, even for just five minutes a day, it lowers anxiety at the neural level by firing up certain areas of the brain that soothe your nervous system. If you take the time to meditate on a daily basis, you improve your capacity to focus without being distracted for prolonged periods of time. Pick the type of meditation that you can stick to over time. As a starting point, check out some of the many meditation apps available to you as mentioned in my post: 20 Minutes of Me Time Every Day: What to Pick.
On a Final Note
Applying yourself to entertain more positive thoughts via venues like cognitive behavioral therapy and practicing gratitude (see what resonates most with you) can also help you deal with stress and anxiety. Each time you think differently about something, you can progressively rewire your brain by reinforcing new neural pathways.
Gut health, exercise, meditation, and chasing away negative thinking: four new undertakings that promote brain health. And don’t forget the ones listed in the previous post: good quality sleep, healthy fats, and intermittent fasting. One step at a time.
Until next time!
“Brain Health: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Brain Young and Strong.” Dave Asprey, 12 Nov. 2019, daveasprey.com/brain-health/#ref-list. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.
Henderson, Kim. “METHODS for RELAXATION: 5 of the BEST WAYS to KEEP CALM!” BrainMD, 1 Feb. 2022, brainmd.com/blog/methods-for-relaxation/. Accessed 12 Feb. 2022.
Hickey, Greg. “The Effects of Exercise on the Brain with Dr. John Ratey.” KineSophy, 1 Oct. 2020, kinesophy.com/the-effects-of-exercise-on-the-brain-with-dr-john-ratey/. Accessed 13 Feb. 2022.
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