You know that lovely feeling of contentment when you hug someone or that surge of nervous energy you get when you’re anxious about a meeting or an event? Those feelings are triggered by neurotransmitters which are little chemical messengers that tell your brain how calm or excited to be.
Some of these neurotransmitters are called “happy hormones” because they help us feel calmer, content, and focused. The constant stresses of our modern society mean that we’re likely to feel the effects of our “fight-or-flight” hormones more often than our calming ones. Fortunately, there are eating and lifestyle habits that support the production of the feel-good hormones and can stabilise your mood.
GABA – the calming neurotransmitter
GABA is my favourite neurotransmitter for its calming effect. It inhibits the speed at which your brain cells communicate with each other. Ever felt your mind racing with a million worries? Then you’ll appreciate how...
The breath plays a key role in our health and well-being. We know that taking some big deep breaths can calm us down, but what is happening to our bodies? Well research and science is showing that this calming affect is due to the Vagus Nerve.
The Vagus Nerve is the largest cranial nerve of the human body, it runs from your brain down through your neck and chest to your abdomen, and is part of the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS,) responsible for rest-and-digest processes.
The term “vagus nerve” comes from the Latin word meaning wandering, an apt name because this cranial nerve has many connections and branches through the body.
For all its complexity, the vagus nerve seems to have quite a simple yet significant role - and that is to calm us down. Emerging research is establishing such how important the Vagus Nerve is and the links between the Vagus Nerve and simple deep breathing techniques.
Recently, scientists established that activating the vagus nerve can slow...
The 2020 festive season probably looks a little different for most of us this year. There might be less (or no) Christmas parties, more social distancing and a greater appreciation for our health.
A common cause of stress I see at this time of year is the conflict between festive eating and dieting. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, then December is synonymous with Bikini Body Diets just as much as with Christmas pudding. Even if you’re not trying to lose kilos for summer, New Year’s resolutions tempt us to try for a “new you” requiring yet another new diet. As a result, I see lots of women oscillating between restricting festive foods or deciding that they’ve blown it and overeating their way through to January 1st.
So how do you approach Christmas eating with less stress? Here are my top tips to reduce eating anxiety and enjoy this time of year (and the celebratory foods that go with it!) more.
Resist the temptation to diet.
Lack of sleep deeply affects our mood, and ability to cope with stress. Emotions like anger, frustration, mood swings, concentration, attention, and memory are all affected, and our sleep deprivation affects our decision making.
The research is out that lack of sleep deeply affects our mood and ability to cope with stress, as well our overall behavioural responses can change, emotions like anger, frustration, mood swings, concentration, attention, and memory are all affected. There is a misconception that sleep is when the body shuts done and rests. However, Sleep is a crucial time for our mind and body’s wellbeing, it is considered the time when all the vital and...
Imposter syndrome impacts a considerable amount of people, so some good news - you are not alone. Imposter Syndrome is the inability to believe your success is deserved or as the result of your skills and talent.
Sounds awful, doesn't it?
This frame of mind presents itself in a range of ways, and it often associated with feelings of anxiety which can lead to low self-esteem. The leading Expert on Imposter Syndrome Dr. Valerie Young explains there are 5 common profiles :
Someone who feels as if they need to do everything perfectly or else, they've failed. And if they aren't perfect, they have an overwhelming feeling of self-doubt.
Someone who feels as if they're a fraud, either at work or in a relationship, and so they work extra hard to hide their supposed inadequacy. Often, the overload in work or stress of not measuring up is damaging to their mental health.
The Natural Genius
Someone who judges their worth by how easily something comes to...
Confidence.... it’s a trait many of us aspire to master. More than just a sense of self-belief, developing our confidence in ourselves can help with stress and overall mental well-being.
Firstly, confidence is not an innate or fixed characteristic, that you have or don't have. It is something you can work on and improve over time. It's also not all-encompassing; you can have high self-esteem in one area of life, and low self-esteem in others.
Managing our internal voice is an important step towards self-compassion and building a positive, more confident mindset for ourselves. How can you feel confident in yourself if you’re continually telling yourself you’re not good enough? Learning techniques to change your self-talk, and managing that inner critic is an important first step to improve your confidence over time.
To begin your journey towards increased confidence, start by paying attention to the voice that...
It's thought that humans can experience as many as 34,000 emotions. This is an incredibly wide range of emotions. It's exhausting even thinking about it.
For many of us the way we feel goes far beyond simple explainers like "happy," "sad" or "angry". We have access to a smorgasbord of emotions day to day (or minute to minute). And with all that activity going on in our brains, it's not surprising that we can struggle to keep a handle on all this activity. If you want to manage an unpleasant feeling, it's critical to introduce self-care habits into your routine. One particularly effective way to do this is by creating self-care goals.
We've collated a list of some of our favourite examples to help you start on this journey:
When you say you feel stressed, what do you mean? Are you overwhelmed? Frustrated? Feeling abandoned? There are loads of emotions moving through our bodies;...
Your mental wellbeing is one of the most valuable assets you can invest in. This element of your health is tied tightly to your daily life, impacting your work; relationships and even physical wellbeing. So it's not something you want to ignore.
So, where should you begin? There are three areas that you can focus on to really start to see an improvement in your well-being - your breathing, sleep and social connections. Here’s a little insight into why these areas, in particular, are so significant.
Our breath is our anchor. It can centre us when things feel frantic; connecting us back to the present moment. Learning to breathe deeply and use breathing techniques as a way to calm the mind in stressful times is an essential tool in a busy life. On the Mindology app, you’ll find a simple breathing meditation designed to quieten your mind and help you access a tranquil mindset.
Poor sleep quality is the enemy of a clear thinking, it...
There’s no single superfood that can guarantee good brain health nor any magic supplement that will stop cognitive decline. However, there are certain foods that contain nutrients your brain loves and it’s a great idea to include them on a regular basis.
When nutritionists talk about brain food, salmon is usually top of the list and for very good reasons. Salmon is rich in the essential Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in the brain. DHA is vital for brain cell function, structure and repair and is found in its highest concentrations there. Low levels of DHA in adulthood are linked to reduced cognitive function and a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Include salmon (or other fatty fish like tinned tuna or sardines) 2-3 times a week to reap the benefits. Pan-sear or bake salmon and toss through a nicoise-inspired salad with baby potatoes, green...
As this year has shown us (over and over), life can throw you some unexpected challenges. Unfortunately, that is true for all of us. While it’s disappointing to know that yes, we will all have to face some uncomfortable moments from time to time, one thing we should find comfort in is the fact that people are incredibly resilient.
Yes, that includes you.
Resilience is the process of effectively coping with adversity; it’s about bouncing back from difficulties and moving forward afterwards. This nifty little trait gives people the strength to tackle problems head-on; to face extreme hardship and keep going on with their lives.
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh, well, those people are innately stronger than I am” let us be clear: that’s not true.
Resilience is not a trait that you either have or don’t have. It’s not something static or set in stone at birth. This capacity can be developed, much like a...