Natural Steps to Make Your Mental Health its Best
You hear people say all the time, “I went to the gym, I drank more water, I lost some weight.” But when was the last time you heard someone say, “I’m going to do a 5 minute meditation, stick to a morning ritual for a successful, positive day,” or “my therapist suggested I journal”? Mental health is the biggest component of self-care, so let’s talk about it! This month Rising Sun Chiropractic put together action steps you can take right now to positively impact your mental health, keep reading!
Food & Mental Health
What does food have to do with mental health? Dr. Seth Nelson says “Think of a time you ate a meal and shortly after found yourself glued to the couch, feeling sluggish, tired and crabby. Now picture a fresh meal with clean foods and bright, delicious flavors. Imagine feeling light, clear minded, and energized after this meal.” The foods we eat create energetic responses that should be taken as what they are- signs that you are either poisoning yourself and your mental health or treating your brain and body with natural medicine (food). Rising Sun Chiropractic’s approach to all forms of health care take a big picture view and mental health is no different. Food has a direct effect on mental health, are you eating foods that build you up or break you down?
How is our gut related to our brain?
Our digestive tract is responsible for making more of our brain hormones than our brains are. Did you know that our intestinal microbes are actively making dopamine, GABA, and serotonin? These are brain neurotransmitters, why are they in the gut? Strong links exist between our digestion and our brain function. There are emerging studies that show diseases that have historically been exclusively viewed as brain-based, like Parkinson’s, may actually start in the gut! Mental health starts in the gut!
Yes! You can change your mental health with food.
Creating dietary plans that support our mental health is easier than you think! What’s the answer? Dr. Seth Nelson says “If it comes in a bag or a box, fried, died or colored, just STOP. Stop buying it, and stop accepting it in your life!” The junk is slowly stealing your energy, clarity of thought, and adding to your waistline. Eat whole, fresh food-based diets, along with healthy fats. What does that look like, exactly? Whole grains in limited amounts, protein, fruit, and vegetables. Keep it simple! Step two, call us! We specialize in a whole food-based program that uses your genetics to dial in on what foods your body is best with.
Body Weight and Mental Health
Obesity keeps the body under intense and consistent stress! The inflammation produced by body fat, and specifically visceral fat, has a direct effect on how happy our brains are. If you are inflamed and your hormones are off your mental health will suffer. If you haven’t heard of visceral fat, you are not alone. Visceral fat is what is under our abdominal muscles against our organs. The easiest example of this is a person with thin arms and legs and a round hard belly. This is a much more dangerous way to store body fat due to the direct pressure on organs. This pressure affects our hormones and really ramps up our inflammation.
How do we measure visceral fat?
We measure both body fat and visceral fat consistently through Rising Sun Chiropractic’s weight loss program using a specialized body composition scale. This device allows us to get beyond basic numbers to the root of our health challenges. When we speak with our patients during their weight loss it is shocking to them how much better they feel both physically and mentally as the fat percentage decrease. You may be surprised how quickly you can start feeling better when you start reducing your inflammation through your diet. Pain in your body, energy, mental clarity and your mood all can in just a matter of weeks improve a great deal. Feel the way you deserve to feel, your not just getting old, it’s not just in your head. You can and deserve to feel better.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep, Your Mental Health Depends on It!
Dr. Nelson would say that single MOST important thing you could do for your mental health is to create and keep a bedtime. When was the last time you felt like you ‘slept like a baby?’ Why is it so easy for babies to sleep the way they do? They don’t start their day with coffee, they don’t eat sugar throughout the day, they don’t consume energy drinks in the afternoon, they don’t unwind at the end of the day by watching several hours of stimulating TV or scroll through social media while drinking alcohol to calm down and having a bedtime that changes day to day. Our bodies do best with routines and consistency. The constant altering of our energy can lead to long term sleep dysfunction and a really tired adult.
How does our day affect our night?
Don’t go from sedentary all day to sedentary all night. Our bodies need energy to be used. Even though we are mentally busy with our workday and can come home exhausted from a stressful day, our muscles need to have use, our brains crave physical activity and our mental health can hinge on us moving more. A routine that starts with coffee or pop to get the energy going, mid-morning sugar snack for a pick me up, lunch on the go, mid-afternoon crash filled with more energy drinks and sugar then drinks with dinner to calm everything down. After a yo yo day of stimulants and depressants you try to lay down to sleep and toss and turn and are exhausted. Pushing your energy around all day long will eventually catch up with you at night.
Start Some Sleep Hygiene
How do we start getting out energy back on track? What will it do for our mental health? The steps are more mentally challenging than physically demanding and the great news is when you start sleeping better your mental health will go through the roof!
At Rising Sun Chiropractic we have employed a sleep hygiene plan with patients for years with great results.
Start with setting a bedtime…and KEEP it. You should be to be within an hour of the same time every day, it doesn’t matter if its the weekend or a special occasion. Second, when you set your bedtime we should be targeting a time that allows for 7-9 hours of good sleep. As you first start you will have some bumps in the road, don’t let that stop you. It typically takes 2-3 weeks to reset your body clock. If you need a little help we recommend using a few different products. We like Benesom from Metagenics and Sleep by Nutrition Dynamics, both use a variety of calming herbs, melatonin and L-Theanine for better sleep.
What should my bedroom be like?
Next make your sleep space a cool, dark room, no TV’s or radios. A fan or white noise machine is okay. Study after study have shown we do best in about 68 degrees or cooler. If your cold get blankets, it’s better to warm up with blankets than try to cool off in a sauna. Here is the last one and it can be a touchy subject. For those of us with partners that roll, jerk, snore, etc it may be time to sleep in a separate space. Sleep is THAT important. You will be a better partner when you feel restored and refreshed. Another option that is less of a jump is having separate blankets on the same bed, not having to fight for blanket real estate can make for a much more restful sleep.
Having a little coffee to start the day isn’t the worst thing in the world, but we need to cut back on afternoon coffee/pop/energy drinks and if you are a person that winds down with a drink or 3, alcohol is one of the most disruptive things you can consume if you want good sleep.
Finally, record your sleep the next day, write down how many times you woke, and making note if you feel rested or not.
Healthy sleep can REVOLUTIONIZE your health, all our major brain and body repair comes in our sleep, our ability to lose weight, gain muscle, learn, and balance hormones all come with healthy sleep. Your daily energy is based on your nightly sleep. You cannot be your best without sleep!
At Rising Sun Chiropractic EVERYONE we work with at some point will have experienced Dr. Nelson get on a tangent and talk about the importance of exercise. If you scroll through our blog posts you will see many of our articles talk about its importance. Exercise has a direct effect on the feel-good hormones in the brain! As heart rate increases blood is moved throughout the body, and those feel-good hormones are triggered. Anxiety’s real weakness is exercise- increasing heart rate regularly is a sure-fire way to reduce anxiety! As you get in the groove and start moving every day, your sleep will improve and your brain will function at a higher level. Start with simple steps; anything more than what you are doing now is going to move the needle. For example, take more steps than you normally take, do a few chair squats, or simply sit and contract muscles. Movements like these can directly affect your muscle strength and hormones associated with energy, depression, and anxiety.
Supplements & Nutrition Supports Mental Health
Nutritionally speaking we can approach mental health from a wide point of view. To start, a high potency fish oil to get a minimum of 2-4000mg of EPA/DHA per day. The fats in these oils have a direct effect on brain health and inflammation. Vitamin D3, is a powerful vitamin but acts like a hormone in the body. It has been shown to have a direct effect on Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as immune health. Vitamin D is an important supplement to include as well as relatively inexpensive to measure and find appropriate dosing. As we spoke about gut health earlier in this article we round out our mental health suggestions with probiotics. Assisting digestion, promoting absorption of nutrition from food, and ultimately supporting the production of the necessary neurotransmitters for our health. These are the basics but there is a wide world of nutritional therapies to support mental health.
Natural Testing Options
Did you know that there are a variety of inexpensive testing options we offer at Rising Sun Chiropractic? There are micronutrient tests for hidden infections in the gut, hormone balance, energy testing, neurotransmitters, heavy metals and so much more. If you are interested in taking your health to the next level there are steps you can take.
Chiropractic Care and Your Mental Health
When pain is present, no matter how small, it sucks the energy out of us! Pain changes the brain, hormones, and keeps us in a negative place. Did you know, a chiropractic adjustment creates stimulation through the spinal cord which stimulates the brain, creating a positive change? When we put the pieces together, small consistent changes can have dramatic effects on our overall health. Don’t ignore pain! It is common, but it is not normal! When we have the opportunity to speak at local businesses and groups on health at some point Dr. Nelson will have someone say “I’ve had this neck problem for years”. The sad thing that happens with long term chronic pain is that we give up so much of our lives. The second thing that Dr. Nelson hears is, “I’ve been to the chiropractor before it didn’t work”. Dr. Nelson is an admitted geek, he is constantly working on adding new techniques and tools to help the St. Peter and surrounding communities. We specialize in helping you get over the hump, our goal is to empower you and get to the root of your problem. Rising Sun Chiropractic is not your cookie-cutter chiropractor. We can help!
Finally, if you struggle with mental health, please reach out! We are happy to refer you to a mental health professional or answer questions about the information provided in this newsletter. Remember, self-care is not selfish, and mental health is a key component to the healthiest you!