Depression. Stress. Anxiety. I thought that I had dealt with my fair share of those three words in high school, but I truly did not experience them until college; until I was diagnosed with a chronic disease. If you’re suffering from any of these, my heart goes out to you. I understand, I really do. But what I want to write about is how to feel your best naturally. Everyone is completely different and unique, so please know that I value whatever route you decide to take for yourself. Self-care is literally the most important thing on the planet to me. I do not intend to treat, diagnose, or cure. These small steps are simply what helps me feel the best and I love sharing them with you.
So, I usually deal with gut-health. Which is why I want to talk about the mind-gut connection. You may be familiar with that feeling you get before a big speech or first date. People always refer to it as butterflies. But those butterflies can have a serious impact on your digestive system. And when something affects your GI tract, it affects your whole body. I always say this, but eighty percent of the immune system is found in the gut.
You might even think that you manage stress well. I’ve been there too. But something in your subconscious mind decides to relay the message from your brain to your stomach that it’s not actually okay. When this happens, the lining of the gut slowly depletes. Ulcers may appear, leaky gut, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, acne, thyroid issues, digestive problems. All of these are secondary symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. And then that endless cycle starts where you’re depressed and anxious because you’re sick too.
When I first went to my naturopathic doctor, one of the most important takeaways I found out was that my nervous system was in much worse shape than my gastrointestinal system. They feed off of each other. So if you’re suffering from depression, or stress, or anxiety, or fatigue, I got you. Here is a little list of my favorite self-care methods and sources to living
Here is a little list of my favorite self-care methods and sources to living your most radiant life.
I’m going to try to sum up these babies the quickest way I can. Essentially they’re super-herbs that are capable of blocking the stress-releasing hormone in your body. They physically help your adrenal system, which is responsible for stress. Adaptogens are also responsible for helping your immune system. (Honestly, I haven’t heard of anything they can’t do) My favorite and one of the most popular adaptogens is Ashwagandha. There are a couple different methods of consuming adaptogens, but one of my favorites is beverages and recipes. If you’re interested in how to incorporate it in cooking and learning more about the taste, check out my post on Ashwagandha Hot Cacao. Ashwagandha and many other adaptogens are available in pill form for convenience purposes. It’s important to start small with these to find out how your body reacts. I got my Ashwagandha from Sun Potion and love it. You only need a half of a teaspoon so it lasts forever. Feel free to do your research though to find what brand and product you like the most! I also love Sun Potion’s website because they give a little run down about each product and the beneficial properties to them.
Vitamins + Supplements
I go into detail on daily supplements I take here, but I’ll break it down for you about the supplements that help the nervous system right here. Probiotics, B vitamins, Iron, Nutri-calm, L-theanine. These are my powerful five. Probiotics are going to be the building blocks of the gut. They are the good bacteria that will be responsible for your gut properly functioning and absorbing the nutrients it needs. B vitamins are going to act as your energy. B12 in particular aids the immune system and provides energy. I prefer to consume it in a liquid form because it takes less energy from your digestive tract to absorb it. Nature’s Sunshine carries my go-to. If you’re a lady with a heavy menstrual cycle, you may want to get your iron tested to see if you might be anemic. Even if you don’t have a heavy cycle there is a possibility you could be lacking this vital nutrient. Iron is also responsible for energy. I use Nature’s Sunshine for this because it is completely plant-based, while drugstore brands can be the equivalent of car rust. It is easily absorbed and will not create stomach upset. Nutri-calm will always have my heart. It’s a blend of powerful herbs and vitamins that recharge the nervous system. I used to get horrible anxiety about traveling and even small life events, but since I’ve been taking it for months I don’t feel that drop in my stomach that I used to. It’s super important when consuming supplements and vitamins to give them time. You should always try things for at least 90 days before throwing in the towel. That’s typically how long it fully takes for everything to properly get into your system. While most supplements take a while to work, one that is fast acting is L-theanine. Some people call it nature’s Xanax for this reason. L-theanine is actually a substance found in green tea, but you would need to be consuming a ton of tea to reap the same benefits. My favorite brand is from Whole Foods and I take it only in emergency situations or right before a stressful event like flying. It doesn’t completely shut down your brain or stops you from thinking. You’re still able to think of anxious situations, but it changes your response to them. It lets everything flow through your mind without dwelling on specific stressors, thus keeping your gut happy and healthy.
These are a few rituals I perform daily. By doing so, this creates a routine and stability.
Yoga + Meditation: Movement. What a crazy, insane impact it has on the body. I get so down on myself sometimes that I forget what I truly need. When you have depression it can be difficult to see a light; to understand that feelings are only temporary. It becomes difficult to even remember how to take care of our bodies. Although I practice self-care daily, I was recently so shuffled in the moving process into a new home and environment. I started a new job and was so concerned with making enough money to survive in this new home we had created that I forgot to take care of my true home. My body, spirit, and mind. I was having one of those days that I had to literally claw myself out of bed to do anything but was persistent that I needed yoga in my life again. At school, I became accustomed to attending yoga weekly, if not daily. I knew that it made me feel better, but why was my mind so exhausted at the thought of it? Well, I made it to a class last week and felt RECHARGED. I debated going because it was a hot power class and without practicing in months I thought I couldn’t do it. But that sweat. I literally felt like I sweat out all of my negativity. The cloudy haze was gone. Something about the certain movements when put together in certain sequences. It releases those feel-good chemicals in the body. I also can’t stress the importance of finding YOUR studio. I had tried a couple different studios before I found the right one for MY practice. So if you’ve tried it in the past and didn’t love it, try taking a step back and evaluating what you didn’t like. Maybe the instructor adjusted you too much, maybe it was too slow, too fast, too hot, too cold, too whatever. Try a different studio! Personally, I’m extremely environmentally sensitive. I feel the vibrations of spaces pretty intensely, so if you’re like me, don’t give up. There’s a studio out there that can be your sanctuary. (Maybe even your own house!) Meditation for me is usually practiced during my yoga class. But don’t forget you can meditate whenever and wherever you like! To me, meditation isn’t about thinking of nothingness. It’s about allowing myself to have all thoughts, but to let them pass. Sometimes it can be helpful to envision your mind as a floating object or an orb. And then envision your thoughts (negative or positive) float by. Envision them coming into your life and then just like that, leave in the same manner. Allow your body to feel whatever it needs to. Meditation in the morning can be especially powerful. Clear your head for a fresh day.
Nightly walks: Another form of movement! Walking also helps aid in digestion tremendously. As for stress, it creates something to look forward to. After dinner or later in the evening before bed, I like to take small walks through my neighborhood. If you’re having a bad day, it can be nice to stop whatever it is that’s upsetting you, and just go for a walk. The fresh air allows your mind to flow, as does the motion of your body. It’s a very renewing experience before bed. And it also tires the body at the same time, preparing for a well rested night sleep.
Daily Drink: For you, this may be a go-to beverage or even food. I love having a smoothie in the morning or mid-day. Some days it’s matcha or tea or even an adaptogenic latte. The simple reminder to our body through taste can act as reassurance that everything is alright. Everything is just a part of the typical day to day if you’re feeling off of the track.
Watching your favorite show: I recently read a post about why you consistently go back to binging the same TV show on Netflix. My google search actually read, “Why can’t I stop watching The Office?” And get this, it’s actually a very healthy reason! Your mind urges you to watch a show with the emotion you’re craving. It’s a therapeutic response. The Office makes me laugh and feel comfortable. It’s kind of like a comfort blanket. And it’s an okay thing to indulge in every once in a while. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling anxious or nervous, think of what makes you feel calm. Whether that be a tv show, movie, your favorite book, song, or hobby.
While most of the time our hearts and minds crave change, our bodies crave routine. Small actions like waking up and going to bed at the same time as well as eating meals at the same time every day help so much. This also creates less stress on the mind and body by relieving tension from decision paralysis. It saves your energy to focus on more important things. In Ayurveda, it is believed that fasting 12 hours from dinner to breakfast is extremely important. For example, if you eat dinner at 7 pm, you should not put anything else into your body until 7 am. Those 12 hours help your body detoxify and cleanse your GI tract along with the nervous system. Just like you need sleep to reset, your organ systems need a break from digestion. If you need a small snack in the evening, that’s totally fine too! I believe in listening to our bodies, and it’s never pleasant to fall asleep hungry. Along with routine, it’s important to find little rituals in your day to day life that stay consistent and bring your peace.
Again, sleep is one of those things everyone knows they need, but continues to be neglected. It goes along with routines. I try to go to sleep around the same time every day, that way my body is less stressed. If you have a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a couple different things to try. Magnesium supports the muscular and skeletal systems. For this reason, it helps the muscles relax and puts less stress on the body, thus creating a better environment for sleep. It also pulls water to the bowel, so it can aid in the emptying process (bonus!)
I truly hope these tips help all of you suffering out there. As always, questions are welcome!
Nourish with intention. Nourish Sankalpa.