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15 Self-Care Ideas for When You’re Feeling Down

15 Self-Care Ideas for When You’re Feeling Down

I suck at self-care. I don’t get it. Am I supposed to take care of my physical biological needs? I already do that. Am I supposed to go buy myself a coffee, sit down and journal for an hour each day? Who’s supposed to watch my kid during this? Get a pedicure? As if I can afford that. Rub my own feet? Unsatisfying. I’ve had many counselors and friends explain and re-explain the importance of self-care to me, and I’m finally begin to understand how significant it really is for my emotional well-being.

Here are my favorite 15 self-care ideas for when I’m feeling down.

1. Write

Get a journal that you keep handy to write whatever you need to. Sometimes it’s helpful to slow down and write about a problem, fear, struggle, or memory. Writing by hand will help you to slow down and process your situation more fully. But sometimes you might not want to write about the struggle or pain. It’s too difficult. So if you’re feeling like it’s too raw to process, just write about your day or make a list of your favorite candies or movies. Just write.

2. Talk to a friend, family member or even pet!

Verbalize your pain. Making yourself speak out loud about your emotions will help you to not isolate yourself or allow yourself to spiral into an emotional tsunami that is hard to escape from. If the situation feels too personal, just share it will your dog! I’m certain Spot will keep your secret, and in my experience, my dog is sometimes the very best comforter. (And she’s certainly the least judgmental listener I know!)

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3. Cry

Let the tears flow. The best way to take care of yourself is to let yourself feel the emotions you need to feel. Bottling up your sadness or anger is not going to help you move past it. If you plant pain, you grow bitterness.

4. Move your body

You’ve heard it before: exercise releases endorphins and “endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” (Elle Woods, Legally Blonde) If you can get yourself to do some yoga or go for a run, then you will seriously be doing yourself a service. But sometimes, just a walk around the block is enough to care for yourself when you’re feeling emotionally raw.

5. Shower

The shower is a place to be alone and focus on yourself without forcing yourself to engage the deep stuff if you don’t want to. You can mull over your parents’ divorce in the hot water, or you could focus or lathering up your shampoo. You need both and both are good you.

6. Make food

Don’t just eat, but make food. Cooking is a tactile and productive activity that will nourish your body and mind. The physical act of caring enough to make yourself a meal is a practical way to show yourself some love.

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7. Blow bubbles or color

As juvenile as it sounds, blowing bubbles or coloring in a coloring book are simple, easy ways to ground yourself in the reality of your situation and relieve some stress. Allow yourself to return to childhood activities and feel a lightness return to your spirit. These are also great activities to engage in if you experience panic attacks or PTSD related flash backs.

8. Deep breathing

Practice breathing in for 8 seconds through your nose and exhaling for 8 seconds through your mouth. This conscious effort to slow down is a great start to gaining perspective. Plus, the added oxygen to your brain will help you calm down, lower your heart rate and quell rising stress levels.

9. Interact with an animal

Scientific studies have shown that interacting with an animal will lower your heart rate, drop your blood pressure and reduce stress. Care for yourself by caring for your pet! Your pet will thank you for it, and you will benefit greatly as well!

10. Sleep

It is not uncommon for people to slog through life on five hours of sleep or less. Our bodies are not created to thrive on so little sleep. We need a chance to turn off and recharge and if we aren’t given that opportunity in sleep, our physical and emotional health will struggle. I am extremely guilty of not giving my body the rest it needs. If I’m having a bad day or my emotions are getting the best of me, I can almost always point to the poor sleep I got the night before as the culprit. Make rest a priority and give yourself the gift of sleep.

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11. Have boundaries

Boundaries are not popular in today’s culture. We often over schedule ourselves and over commit out of a sense of obligation to others. But if you aren’t able to bring your best self to the table then you aren’t doing anyone a service by overexerting yourself. Establish healthy boundaries with your calendar, your work and your relationships. Give yourself the time you need to take care of yourself so you can better take care of others.

12. Cultivate a hobby

Teach yourself to knit. Buy a scrapbook. Start a blog. Attend a class where you drink wine and paint. Create a hobby that is just for you and brings you joy. Having an intentional activity in your life that serves no end other than to bring you happiness will go a long way to foster healthy self-care.

13. Try something new

You can care for your mental health by challenging your mind to learn and expand. You will give yourself a boost by pushing your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone. Take a new route home from work. Go to an ethnic restaurant you’ve never tried. Learn a language with Rosetta Stone. Challenge your mind and it will be grateful for it.

14. Meditate or pray

Accessing your spirit/soul through meditation and pray is essential to holistic human health. Allowing yourself to really think about your values and beliefs will help you to feel more solid in your identity. Even if you don’t unlock the Truth of the Universe, or completely understand God or Divinity, giving yourself to space to engage with those big questions will go a long way in your emotional and spiritual life. It’s okay to not have all the answers, but you have to start letting yourself ask the questions.

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15. Hug someone

Hug someone, or hold hands with a loved one. We need physical touch. We are hardwired to physically encounter other people, and our culture is becoming more and more digitized which is eliminating opportunities for essential non-sexual human contact. Let yourself linger in a hug from a friend or ask your partner to give you a non-sexual back rub. We need more of this kind of contact in order to be healthier and happier people.

This list is just a start! Begin the practice of consciously taking care of yourself and you will never regret it.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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