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10 Things Anyone Can Do to Cure the Holiday Blues

10 Things Anyone Can Do to Cure the Holiday Blues

The holiday season can be amazing: a time of gift-giving and celebration, when we have meals with loved ones, often witnessing and receiving the blessings of human generosity in full force. For some, it is a time filled with the wonder and magic of a child, and for others, it is a deeply spiritual time that demonstrates a time of renewal and hope. Still for many people, perhaps far many more than we dare to admit, the holidays can be very challenging. This challenge can even be exacerbated by the very belief that we are supposed to be so joyful during this time, and that something must be wrong with us for not being so. This downward cycle of the Holiday Blues can be remedied however. Here are some cures you can try if you find your spirits feeling low this holiday season.

1. Count your blessings

Make it a practice each day to say out loud what your blessings are in this life. Be clear that this process is not intended to suppress any real sadness or blues you might be feeling, as that would be dishonoring part of you that is real. But, it is a way to recognize that the inner focus on sadness is not the only focus worth your time and attention. Start with saying out loud the phrase: “I am blessed that…..” and let your subconscious mind fill in the gap without premeditating your answer. Keep it spontaneous and free flowing, not an intellectual exercise. You’ll be surprised how many times you realize a blessing that you may not have been consciously aware of: the kindness of a stranger, the beauty of a tree you encounter each day, that wonderful cup of tea or coffee you get each day as well as the smile of the person serving it to you. These seemingly small blessings add up, and can shift our awareness to acknowledge the greater blessings in our lives.

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2. Be of service to the world

A great way to heal your own suffering is to help soothe the suffering of others. This is true during the holiday season as well as beyond it. If the chaos of shopping at the mall is getting to you, and you don’t feel the holiday cheer, why not spend that same time bringing joy to someone else? Take the focus off of you and put it on bringing more light to the world. Give a donation of time or money to a worthy cause. Go help a friend with some project. Pick up any trash in the parks and on the sidewalks of your neighborhood. Write a letter to a the elderly. Here is one link that can help. There are many ways to be of service to the world. Pick something you feel passionate about so that it comes from the heart, and help make the world a better place.

3. Give something away for free

Giving away an item you value not only honors the holiday spirit but it also creates space in your life for something new. Think of those belongings that you value and are ready to release, which also might bring joy to someone you know: such as that old guitar you haven’t picked up in years, or that laptop that works great but doesn’t have the latest upgrades you want, or that cherished book in great condition which you have read and love but is sitting on the bookshelf now collecting dust. Give these items away to those who can put them to good use. It will bring joy to that person, and creates space in your life for you to bring in something new.

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4. Plan a feast, and then a fast, for something you want to manifest

Food is a big focus during the holiday season, so take charge of your food experience and give it a purpose. Allow yourself to partake in the festive meals, the holiday work party, or even a delicious dinner you cook for yourself. Each time you feast with others or in solitude, do so with a purpose. Intend that the food is a blessing. Bless it in your mind, or out loud, to represent something you want to bring into your life. Remember, we are what we eat, so visualize that piece of turkey (or tofurky) as the raise you are hoping for from your boss, or something else you want to manifest. Eat mindfully, as if every bite is helping make that dream come true in your mind’s eye. Then, balance the more heavy meals with a fast in the days after, maybe even to start the New Year. It can be a juice fast, water fast, or simply eating only fruit for a day or more. Most of the world’s spiritual traditions give emphasis to fasting for bringing powerful change into your life. So, balance the time you have spent feasting with some time spent fasting, keeping the focus on something you want to manifest for the New Year.

5. Share food with others

Since food is such a large part of the holidays, it is also a great way to create community. It doesn’t have to be complex and can actually be quite simple. If you have friends who live nearby, invite them over to enjoy a holiday dessert or snack. Even hot chocolate and cookies will do! A key ingredient to creating community is sharing food. If your friends are away for the holidays, invite an acquaintance or co-worker over, or that neighbor you say hello to but never get to really know. This is the time to widen that circle of community in your life, and enjoying a holiday dessert is the perfect excuse. Who knows? That acquaintance may become your new best friend.

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6. Say something kind to a stranger

Offering a simple hello or compliment to someone you don’t even know can raise your spirits as well as theirs. Be extra kind and generous with your words and use them to uplift those around you. It’s a very easy practice, and does wonders to brighten your day as well as theirs.

7. Shop less and exercise more

Sometimes the Holiday Blues is simply the result of the way we treat our bodies this time of year, as well as the way we treat our wallets, where both our bellies and credit card debt grow large. Spend less time shopping and more time burning calories, be it at the gym or working out at home.

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8. Watch an old movie that reminds you why life is amazing

Some people love watching classic holiday movies this time of year like Its A Wonderful Life starring James Stewart. But even if you prefer something of a different genre, remember movies are art, and art can be medicine for the soul. Sometimes, all we need are the right lines from a movie or song to remind us of what we need to hear—that our lives are precious and amazing gifts.

9. Find a place to meditate on New Years Eve

If you want an alternative to the traditional New Years Eve celebration, know that many yoga studios and meditation centers now offer New Years Eve meditations. It can be a wonderful and healthy way of starting the year. Simply making a commitment to attend can change your attitude weeks before the clock turns midnight to bring in the New Year.

10. Believe in your dreams and take action on making them real

Allow yourself to dream big dreams for the upcoming year. Then, buy a calendar for 2015, and write into each day of that calendar an action you will take for making your dreams become real.

Featured photo credit: Pretty red haired girl walking on frozen lake and making footpath via shutterstock.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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