Balanced Brain Chemistry
When we don’t have balanced brain chemistry, it compromises everything that we are trying to achieve in wellness and in life. Life becomes SO much harder! Our system is thrown out of whack, we get intense cravings for certain foods (especially carbs and junk foods), hungry when we are not actually hungry, difficulty sticking to our diet or wellness goals, lack motivation, become irritable and irrational, have poor sleep patterns and the list goes on.
It’s essential to understand this and know that it is not your fault when you lose control and give in to cravings, nor should you feel shame or guilt that you may be perpetuating a lifestyle that you feel is unhealthy or incongruent with your goals.
When we face these kinds of problems, it is actually imbalanced brain chemistry and lack of harmony in the body that’s at work here.
So, next time, if you are desperately craving carbs and you’re reaching for that brownie—full of guilt and shaming yourself for doing so— remember that it is not your shortage of will power or discipline; it’s your brain trying to increase serotonin and find relief from chemical imbalance. So, kick that guilt to the curb and get to the root of the problem because YOU, yourself, you’re awesome!
Now, we may understand the importance of brain health in achieving our wellness goals— the question is how? This goes back to Digestive Wellness; healing the gut will help heal the mind. It’s true; the state of the digestive system directly affects the state of the mind. However, it works the other way around too. Our mental and emotional state can manifest into physical symptoms. We need to nourish our brain in order to allow it to work with us and not against us—thus, creating a beautiful balance of health and happiness.
How do we nourish our brain?
“The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.” –Michio Kaku
Oh my, the complex wonders of the brain are far from being fully understood.
But, to uncomplicate things for a moment, let’s focus on what we do understand. The brain influences everything about us and everything within our bodies: perception, cognition, organ function, emotions/feelings, etc. If our brain is running the show than we better pay it some attention in order to achieve our goals and desires with ease.
There are 4 ways we can nourish our brain:
- “Me time”
Let’s start with food. In order to have a happy and healthy brain we need balanced levels of our friendly neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin. Serotonin regulates our brain and bodily functions from food, sleep, digestion, and appetite to mood, sexual desire, and social behavior. This is where the connection is between food and mood. Our diet can either decrease or promote serotonin production.
Below are some Foods that Promote a Healthy Brain:
- Leafy green vegetables
When we consume an excessive amount of refined carbs and sugars, however, we temporarily boost serotonin and feel better—but we are ultimately damaging the brain and worsening symptoms. So, it’s important to limit refined carbs and sugars to once or twice per week. This may sound difficult, but it’s not if you have the right tools (you may contact me for more info on this or stay tuned for my ebook!). There are so many delicious alternatives and healthy grains that you can use and I dedicate this blog to providing you with easy-to-make, yummy options.
It is also important to alkalize the body for healthy brain function. When our body becomes acidic, we increase feelings of anxiety and negative thoughts. By introducing more alkaline foods into our diet and limiting processed foods, we can harmonize the acid-base balance in our system and promote better brain health.
Green juicing is an EXTREMELY effective way to nourish the brain!
Exercise. It’s pretty common knowledge that exercise boosts brain health by balancing hormones and increasing those feel good brain chemicals. But, I don’t believe that everyone needs to be in a gym or with a personal trainer like it’s boot camp. I believe that the body just wants to move, it wants activity and excitement. So, give it just that. Regular exercise is essential, however, it’s best to do something that you enjoy doing so that it won’t be a drag and you’ll want to do it everyday. For example, bike riding, dancing, hiking, swimming, etc. Just get moving!
Sleep. During sleep is when the brain and body restore its systems. The brain thrives on sleep; so much so, that our life expectancy decreases with lack of sleep. It’s important not only how much sleep you get, but also, what time you go to sleep. Going to bed by 10pm is ideal, but at the very latest you should be in bed before midnight.
Now onto the fun part… “Me time”.
We need to engage in more activities on a regular basis that bring us joy and put a smile on our face. What brings joy, smiles, and laughter is nourishment for the brain and a healthy brain will make it easier for you to achieve what you want out of yourself and your life!
Falling into the repetitive cycle of work, eat, sleep, isn’t exciting for anyone. Now I’m not telling you to drop everything and go to the Bahamas. I’m talking about nurturing yourself and adding little things to your daily lifestyle that will make you happy and boost the pleasure centers of the brain.
It’s important to have things to look forward to everyday. I understand that life can get crazy busy, but no matter what, there is always a way to make time for your own health and wellbeing.
Start by giving yourself more attention, more “ME” time. Put aside some time everyday just for you and use that time to immerse in self-love and bliss. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, every bit of availability counts!
Below are a few fun reminders of simple activities you can add to your day…
- Put on a pair of headphones, go for a walk and get lost in the music! Keep your playlist updated every month with new songs that inspire, motivate, move and/or relax you. Just be sure to listen to constructive music that sends your brain positive messages. Also try music that signals alpha waves. Music and sound emit frequencies that can harmonize brainwaves. Alpha waves boost serotonin levels.
- Pamper yourself. Prepare a warm bath, surround yourself with candles and soak in relaxation. You can use calming aromas like lavender for some extra goodness.
- Get creative! Anything arts and crafts is always good for the mind. Go to an arts and crafts store and let your imagination run wild and free. Start a fun creative project at home that you enjoy, and everyday you will have something to look forward to.
- Get in your daily dose of laughs! You can be in the worst mood ever, but laughter is powerful and can instantaneously change your brain chemistry. Follow funny people or animals on your social media, watch funny youtube video compilations or a comedy show, or whatever it is that tickles your humor. Laugh everyday!
- Take a fun class a couple times a week. One of my favorites is Aerial dance classes. It’s tons of fun and you don’t have to be good at it. Just enjoy swinging around, wrapped in silk ropes. Trying different things and learning a new skill is a great way to boost and balance brain chemistry.
- Get some sun! If you’re feeling down or have low energy, go outside and revive from sunlight. Even if you’re in your pajamas, just get outdoors for a bit. Light from the sun is a powerful energy source for all beings and it’s good for the mind. Sit on your patio and enjoy some iced tea, ride a bike, go for a walk, go to the beach, build a snowman, or go hiking. Whatever it is you like to do outside, do it more often.
- Get a massage. It’s not only relaxing and feels incredible, but it also boosts endorphins.
- Spend more time in nature. Smell the air, feel the breeze, enjoy the scenery, and be surrounded by the undeniable healing energy of Mother Nature.
Do the things that light up your spirit, things that bring a smile to your heart, things that make you feel giddy inside. It’s an important part of life and you deserve it!
Additionally, try making daily “chores” more enjoyable:
When you’re cooking, listen to relaxing Zen or meditation music and try to remain present. There is a peaceful and spiritual essence to the sounds of this music intertwined with your hands and body as you prepare food. It’s very serene. [Off topic side note: Cooking is a good time to practice being in the now. And as you practice you will effortlessly start to make better choices in the foods and meals you prepare.]
You can do the same while organizing your room or home office, for example. Cleaning or organizing doesn’t have to be a dreadful task. It can actually be very pleasant when you’re listening to good music along with the perspective that you are engaging in this task, not because it’s an obligation, but because you love yourself. You’re doing it for you. And that is something to enjoy.
Plus, decluttering the home declutters the mind!
It’s time to add a little more fun to your daily life! I will elaborate more on this topic throughout my blog with some simple and creative ways to boost brain chemistry!
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!