headspace

Grey moods

I made this quick list of things to boost mood by stimulating serotonin production mainly as a reminder to myself. I’ve been plagued by persistent grey cloud moods throughout most of my life starting in my teens. When I saw a psychiatrist we talked about recognising mood patterns and trying to do something about them before it gets worse.

Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters naturally occurring in our brains, low amounts are associated with feelings of doom, gloom, anger, worry, low confidence and low self-esteem, negative thoughts you can’t seem to turn off and many more. There are other neurotransmitters that could be low like catecholamines, GABA, and endorphins. Being low in one of these would cause different low mood symptoms. The Mood Cure is a must read if you need nutritional and supplemental help for depression, apathy or just bad moods for no reason.

Exercise

Has been shown to boost serotonin production and make us feel good, although the effects aren't as long lasting as I’d like. Get that heavy, deep breathing going; plenty of oxygen is necessary to form serotonin.

Light

Being exposed to bright light, usually from the sun can boost production of serotonin and also help regulate sleep. Regular household light bulbs just don’t cut it, get outside even if it’s overcast for at least 30 minutes.

Protein and healthy fats

Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan so make sure to include plenty of protein so you have the building blocks required. The brain is made from fat so make sure to include plenty of butter from grass-fed animals, pastured eggs, nuts, coconut oil, etc.

Bad mood instigators

What to avoid to help those feel-good serotonin levels? Stimulants like energy drinks, caffeinated soda or coffee can leave us feeling depleted after the energy high has worn off. Aspartame is also best avoided, not only is it a man-made chemical sweetener, one of its main ingredients phenylalanine converts to stimulating substances in the body and compete with serotonin in the brain.

Limit sugar and junk food, bad moods may cause us to turn to food to comfort ourselves but this just drives cravings for more nutrient-poor food and pushes more nutrient dense food off of our plate.

Happy New Year and Meditation

So another year comes to a close and everywhere I look people are talking about their resolutions, intentions, goals. I’m sure my gym will be packed come January so I have really enjoyed the last few peaceful days of December when people are more busy eating Christmas cookies than working up a sweat.

My resolution or whatever you want to label it is meditation. I actually download the headspace app in 2015 but I never turned it into a habit or had it stick despite the app working for others I know. But within the last month, I have been confronted with various signs and information about how important mindset, focus and meditation are to overall health. I know that a negative mindset and thought patterns are completely reversible and meditation is a great way to get me there. So I completed a few more 10 minute sessions and then bit the bullet by signing up for a year of Headspace. I’d like to give credit to my man who bought a year subscription a month or so before me and spurred me further into action.

Have Headspace, will meditate.

So now that I have the subscription how has it been going? Well, the new year hasn't even started but I have been maintaining my one a day session. I don’t want to become obsessive over my streak but it is definitely easier to keep up with a new habit if I do it daily.

Where do I want my meditation practice to be in December 2018? Ideally, I’ll still be meditating if not daily then at least several times a week. But like in yoga, it’s not called “practise” for nothing. I want to keep practising to get better at mediating and like all good things the benefits come with time. Learn, practice, master.

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Catching a sunset in both photos. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 2017