We have all been in the kind of rut before where we don’t feel like ourselves, like something just has us down and we can’t shake it. We live in a fast-paced world that sometimes does not allow us the opportunity to share our feelings or reflect on our emotions during the workday or at school. While we know that eating a pint of ice cream or going on a shopping spree is not exactly a viable option, it is a tempting one. However, there are many healthy and holistic ways to help transform the way we feel!
It is important to understand where and how our emotions come about. Our brain’s nervous system is responsible for both basic and complex emotions. When we are sad or low on energy, that is predominantly a low activity frontal lobe issue that is dictating our emotions, judgement, reasoning and empathy.
When we are anxious or can’t seem to “turn our brain off” that is mainly an issue with our Basal Ganglia, a system deep in our brain that helps us work through and shift thoughts. Those with Basal Ganglia issues tend to stay with a thought for an extended period of time as opposed to shifting away from it. So how can we transform our brain into thinking positively?
Write It Out:
- Put your thoughts, concerns and worries on paper.
- Ask yourself: Can it be true? Can I prove that it’s true? If you can’t prove that it’s true, then why worry about it?
- Create potential solutions and rid your self of those thoughts. Take a deep breathe and take a look at the other side of the equation. Your intuition will help guide you to a solution.
Give Your Brain What It Needs:
The brain needs activation and oxygen. We have all heard it a thousand times: EXERCISE! Why exactly is this? When we exercise, our body demands oxygen, so with a higher demand, a higher amount is supplied and makes for an overall healthier brain. Exercise also helps release endorphins (often referred to as the “happy hormone”) into our body. It should also be noted that playing sports takes a massive amount of coordination. This fires up the prefrontal cortex, located in the frontal lobe. The more activation we get here, the more we wake up the frontal lobe.
It is clinically proven that meditation gets blood to the frontal lobe and slowly powers down the other lobes. Meditation can help create more synergy in the brain and allow for proper frontal lobe function. An important aspect of meditation is rhythmic breathing. This activates the vagal nerve, which has a direct correlation to the Basal Ganglia, allowing your brain to shift from thought to thought more efficiently. I highly recommend finding a yoga teacher who specializes in mediation or download an application on your phone to get started.
Nutrition for the Brain:
It’s important to avoid foods that will create inflammation. Try to stay away from fried foods, high levels of sugar, processed foods and in some cases, gluten and dairy. The less inflammation in the body, the more efficient the blood flows to the brain.
On the other hand, some things to incorporate are complex carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa. Complex carbs promote high levels of serotonin, an important chemical that helps calm down the brain. This is more effective if added toward the end of the day to ensure proper sleep.
- Fish oil: known to block cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Rhodiola: a plant that supports proper function to the prefrontal cortex.
- Ashwandha: a plant that reduces cortisol levels and increase blood flow to the frontal lobe.
When you logically come out on the other side of your sad or anxious thoughts, you will undoubtedly feel stronger and this is no different in working with your immune system. The more problems you work through, the more reasonable and reflective you will become. Empower yourself to transform your emotions!