Spring has Sprung ! And have you?
Struggling with cleaning out the mental dust bunnies?
Does your mind take you down a very deep rabbit hole?
Currently 90% of visits to medical offices are due to symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression related symptoms.
This past year has been a mammoth phase of mindset challenges – where are we going?, and what IS happening?, these questions impact us personally, privately and professionally.
I have felt it too. We all have in some way.
How will a natural approach regain happiness, hope and balance?
What are the options?
* If you are currently on an antidepressant do not discontinue use or taper off without the advice of the prescribing health practitioner…it may be the best choice for you and your current capacity to cope.
Here are my top 6 items to regain the spring in your step and ground into a healthy reality.
1. Focus on Sleep
80% of my patients are exhausted and don’t know it or under rate their fatigue.
One third of your life is spent in “sleep mode”.
So, love your bed, bedroom, keep it dark, electronic free, add fresh air, don’t eat or work in bed, create a ritual around getting ready for sleep mode. You laugh?
Try it and see if you can maintain a 21 day sleep hygiene preparedness routine.
Give yourself permission to rest, nap and sleep.
It can be exhausting mentally and emotionally out there these days!
Sleep is regenerative for many functions of the brain, gut, immune and hormonal system.
In sleep mode, the body is able to perform functions when you are not active consciously, digesting or performing physically.
The brain literally swells during sleep and allows for cleansing of the cerebral spinal fluid in which it is bathed. The fluids of the gastrointestinal tract and lymphatic system intermingle and cleanse the brain through this mechanism. Very simply put, this is the gut brain connection.
So…if you feel depressed, anxious, restless, hyped, wired, scared, angry, exhausted, short fused, jumpy, lethargic, bored, you must address your sleep to recharge all the circuits and hormones that are replenished with a solid 8 hours. MAYBE you are just tired!
Questions to determine what is not allowing you to sleep well and have a happier energetic mindset are many….
Trouble falling asleep? – you could be still finishing the day in your mind, eating too late, having late day stimulants, exercising late, vitamin/mineral deficient.
Waking after falling asleep a couple of hours later ?– still finishing the day in the mind but you were exhausted enough to at least fall asleep! Over strung all day long and no longer able to fully switch into a relaxed state of parasympathetic nervous system restfulness.
Too little Yin and too much Yang? may have a person up – urinating – caused by “weak” kidneys, various fears, possible low grade infection, hormone imbalances, prostate or bladder inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, all influenced by…adrenal exhaustion.
Early morning wakening? Raring to go or still deathly tired ?… wanting to go back to sleep at 7am when it is time to get up? This is cortisol imbalance tied to adrenal overstimulation or exhaustion, worries or anticipation of the day, not enough deep or REM sleep, because you are still attempting to solve the previous day’s issues.
Dump your day in a journal or to do list as soon as possible.
Be grateful for all the things you did right, went well and made you smile.
Understand you cannot control it all, do it all, have it all – immediately or ever.
Develop a balanced perspective.
Have a favorite essential oil steaming your room – olfactory senses love to be part of your relaxation routine.
Make it a regular or structured (waking hour and bedtime hour) to get back in balance.
Magnesium deficiency needs to be corrected. (Likely vitamins and minerals in general)
Calming herbal formulas or homeopathics that do not conflict with other medications or best suited for your type of insomnia. See #5
If necessary short term use of pharmaceuticals may be helpful, understand however, that we are not meant to be like a light switch on and off… taking the time to check in through the day and relax will pay off at night.
Use them regularly to create a pattern of consistency your body and mind can anticipate and rely on.
Feels overwhelming? Select any 2 of the above and do them regularly for 1 week then reassess.
2. Do you have a sanctuary? Do you use it?
This is important and interesting.
The answer should be your home!
We are all spending more time at home.
How does home feel?
Men need time and space to wind down, often alone, before reconnecting.
Women need to destress by connecting, talking, sharing and time to pamper themselves.
Kids need a place to let it all hang out and be shown that quiet time can be satisfying AND necessary.
Pets love their special quiet place too.
Maybe its not just a place but a time of day.
The ambrosia hours are sacred hours – the time around sun up and sun down.
Taking a few moments to acknowledge these special times of day can be very healing and awe inspiring.
Tune in and complete a reality check.
Give less attention to the “news”.
Notice all the good things in life.
3. Regular supplement use will uplift your spirits, energy, and tidy up your gut.
Symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress are ALWAYS accompanied by the weakest link in your system. For some it is their indigestion, skin issues, hormones, pain, lungs, sinus, etc.
Maintaining a structured use of supplements helps to feed these weakened systems versus a haphazard approach of “feeling the need for it”.
It takes time and consistency.
Stress burns through:
B complex ( not just B12!)
Zinc and in fact all minerals including Iron Iodine Chromium Manganese Molybdenum Selenium
Hair Mineral Analysis is a helpful tool.
Everything feels better hydrated and worse dehydrated.
How simple is drinking water to help you feel better!
4. Mindset detox – finding out the issue determines best solutions.
In this past year, many habits, attachments and addictions could have slipped in – disempowering us.
Anxiety – worries about the future. Excessive energy spent predicting and controlling the future.|
Depression – dwelling on the past and repeating the story to others and to ourselves. Unnecessary pressure on ourselves.
Stress- not feeling in control, worrying about other people’s business, and stressing over the need for control and perfection. Expectations.
Burnout – loss of perspective, exhausted and depleted without enough rest. Overly responsible for everything.
Knowing the difference between responsible and accountable.
Cravings may accompany states of stress, anxiety, depression, various emotions and even illness.
A few examples:
Sugars, carbs and comfort foods – are really about energy, inflammation, fungal overgrowth, addictions and the feeling of missing out.
Salt – adrenal burnout, thyroid stress, weight gain, stagnation and lack of movement, dehydration, fatigue.
Fat – not enough healthy calories in general (maybe not eating at all) and binging on fat to make up for it. The nervous system craves fat to heal.
Emotional cravings or unrealistic mental cravings – as in needs and wants -will impact mindset.
Mindset can become out of whack with lack of exercise, poor diet and toxicities. Lack of minerals and accumulated heavy metals have been implicated in assorted radical behavior and fatigue. Detoxification removes all sorts of debris – physically and mentally.
Novelty is important in our lives– selecting something new to do for 3- 5 days can create a mindset shift, a challenge and the courage to explore more.
Ever experienced Yoga? Vegan menus? Singing?
How about starting the day differently in some way – reading, meditating, stretching?
Just for 5 days. Then switch it up – just commit for a short time frame.
How you start the day is how you end it.
Decide how your day is going to go and then do it!
Intention directs choices.
5. Is it really a neurotransmitter deficiency/imbalance?
Determining whether you are in a place for pharmaceutical or more natural substances always goes in tandem with lifestyle restructuring. Like it or not.
There is much in the literature that questions long term and short term use of pharmaceuticals when it comes to permanently altering brain chemistry. ( impairing neuroplasticity – brain growth and repair )
The pharmacology of the neurocognitive chemicals (how they actually work) has always been vague and incomplete.
Dependency and requiring higher dosing is common.
Prozac arrived in 1988. The first of a generation of SSRI’s. Many people were over treated and with mixed results. David Suzuki produced a documentary on the side effects and after effects of its use.
First line treatment must include:
Vitamins and minerals, correction of amino acid deficiencies due to poor diets/digestion, lack of absorption or increased demand during times of stress. These are important when addressing mood and mental health. Repeatedly demonstrated in a range of symptoms from anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, hormone imbalances, to diabetes, thyroid disease, burnout, chronic fatigue, depression, addiction and more.
It is well known that Vitamin D levels impact mood.
This would include other fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Know your baseline.
Consider having your Vitamin D level privately tested.
Oats ,Passionflower, Valerian, Lemon balm, Catnip, St Johns Wort, GABA, L-Theanine and adaptogens such as ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, magnolia are considered sacred herbs in that they have been used for centuries to treat the ails of stress and anguish.
Essentially they have been used to treat the fears, worries and apprehensions of the human spirit.
Selecting the correct herbs, with best dosing, in the correct form – can produce quick results.
6. Nature, fresh air and movement may trump breath work and meditation!
Depending on the individual – the polyvagal theory of the stress response entails understanding a pattern of social engagement, fight and flight response and the “freeze” (being distant, small and agoraphobic)…
Best free and available solution?…action, motion and movement – creates flow and shifts the “energy”.
Feeling sad, mad, tired?
Smile, watch something funny, think of yellow fuzzy ducks (my favorite) and feel the shift.
Motion and movement. Regularly. Daily.
Movement is key because it off sets stagnation.
Stagnation of mind, blood, lymph, toxins.
Circulating blood circulates joy.
Time in nature is healing and supportive, sitting or walking being in fresh air alone is enough to get the momentum of change necessary to move the energy or Qi that has become trapped or paralyzed.
Are these the only items to consider when supporting our mental health?
Denial and shame are very real and this means many will seek self help…I encourage education. Seek objective caring support.
How to succeed?
By not giving up to soon and expecting miraculous change instantaneously.
Use many types of treatment and lifestyle changes – consistently.
Create positive surroundings, be with supportive friends, family, and health care providers.