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How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays

How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is approaching and Christmas is right around the corner, so I want to provide you with a few tips to help you nourish yourself and eat healthy during the holidays.

The holidays are a time for connecting with friends and family. A big part of this connection is through food and eating, so it’s no wonder that many of my patients find it challenging during the holidays to maintain the dietary recommendations that I make during their visits.

Since food is such a big part of holiday celebrations, I want to start by letting you know that it’s ok to eat and it’s also ok to enjoy what you’re eating. That said, my first piece of advice is:

 

1. Let go of any fear that you have around food and eating

This can be challenging, but as much as you can, try not to focus on the things that you can’t have. The holidays are a time of celebration and joy, so give yourself permission to indulge – have dessert, eat foods that you normally don’t eat, without fear or shame.

Excessive restriction increases the fear and stress that we can sometimes feel around food and eating, which can make it difficult to really connect with your friends and family over the holidays. Allow yourself to indulge, mindfully.

 

2. Be Present and Aware of What You’re Putting In Your Body

As you are celebrating, maintain a conscious awareness of what you’re eating and drinking.

Notice the way your food looks, tastes, and smells. Slow down and take time to chew your food, really savor and enjoy it.

It’s also helpful to create an awareness around what you’re drinking. It’s ok to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, but also make sure that you stay hydrated by drinking water while you’re celebrating.

No matter what you decide to eat and drink, be aware of and take responsibility for your choices. Don’t wait until you get to the bottom of the bag of chips before noticing that you may have eaten more than you wanted to. Stay aware throughout the eating experience.

 

3. Make and Bring Healthy Foods to Parties and Gatherings

If you’ve ever arrived at a party, examined the food options, and felt like there was nothing there you could eat, this tip is for you!

You can decrease some of the stress that arises when you’re trying to eat healthy during the holidays, by bringing a healthy dish that meets your dietary needs. Not only will you ensure that you have something healthy that you can eat, but you might even convince your family and friends that healthy and delicious can co-exist during the holidays!

Personally, gluten and dairy don’t work well for my body, so I always make a few dishes to take along with me to holiday parties and celebrations. When I first started this practice, I was considered an oddball, but now, many of my family and friends are eating the same way that I eat, so we can all enjoy healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, delicious foods together.

 

4. Eat at Regular Intervals Throughout the Day

It’s easy to get swept up in the hectic nature of holiday preparation and forget to eat or feel like there isn’t enough time to stop what we’re doing to eat.

We can get so busy grocery shopping, buying gifts, and traveling that by the time we sit down to eat, we’re depleted and ravenous.

Eating when we’re in this state makes it much harder to make healthy food choices since we’re depleted calorically, it’s not unusual in these instances to choose foods that are convenient or quick and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, these aren’t always the best for our bodies.

If you are going to be out traveling or running errands, put a few healthy snacks in your bag or pack a healthy lunch, so you have access to nourishing, healthy food when you need it. This will make it much easier to eat healthy during the holidays.

 

5. Consume Alcohol Only After You’ve Had a Meal, Not Before

Alcohol can be taxing on the liver, which can eventually lead to insomnia and skin issues, like acne. With this in mind, it’s important to limit the amount of alcohol that you consume during the holidays.

Also, healthy foods will provide you with much more nourishment than alcohol, so give it more of a priority than eggnog and other alcoholic beverages.

 

6. Eat Your Food on a Small Plate

During the holidays, we tend to overeat. You may be able to avoid this by eating from an appetizer plate, instead of a bigger entree plate. A smaller plate holds less food, making you less likely to take more food than you need to feel satisfied, especially if you are eating slowly, chewing your food well, and savoring each bite.

No matter what plate size you choose, however, try to fill most of your plate with healthy foods, like green leafy vegetables, as much as possible.

 

7. Move Your Body

Just as it can be challenging to eat healthy during the holidays, it can also be a challenge to maintain our movement and exercise routines. However, movement is essential, especially if we are eating foods that are higher in calories, fat, and sugar.

If you’re struggling to find time for movement during the holidays, make it a family affair! Invite your family members to take a 20-minute walk with you after a meal.

 

Remember, the holidays are about connection and we can connect with and without food.

 

To ensure that you eat healthy during the holidays, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite healthy holiday recipes in the next blog post of this series. If you’ve missed any of my previous blog posts on maintaining your health during the holidays, you can check them out here.

xo,

 

 

 

How Gratitude Impacts Your Health

How Gratitude Impacts Your Health

I believe gratitude is one of the most important emotions that we can experience. And it can have a very powerful and positive impact on your health.

It also happens to be an emotion that is better felt than merely spoken about, so I want to start this blog post a little differently than the others – with a short meditation. Feel free to read the instructions first, then put them into practice.

Gratitude Meditation

  1. Find a quiet space where you feel safe, then close your eyes.
  2. Take a moment to think about the word “gratitude.” What do you feel in your body when you think of this word? Notice any sensations or feelings that come up.
  3. Then ask yourself, “what am I grateful for?” Allow images and words to come up freely, without judgment.
  4. Notice how you feel in your body as you think of these things – what does it feel like when you imagine the situations, the people, or the places you’re grateful for?
  5. After you’ve felt and observed the feelings and sensations, take a moment to write down the things that came to you.
What are you grateful for?

Personally, when I ask myself this question, the first person that comes to mind is my husband. As I sit with the image of my husband, I can feel warmth and love. I am extremely grateful for him.

The more you do this gratitude meditation, the easier it becomes to settle into the feeling. It also becomes easier with time to note all the things that you’re grateful for.

Many of us know what gratitude is on a cognitive level, and we know that we “should” be grateful, but not many of us know what gratitude actually feels like. So take the time to notice and feel that for yourself on a daily basis.

If you’re having trouble coming up with things to be grateful for, start small. You can be grateful for your eyes and the ability to see or the ability to taste your food when you eat. You can even be grateful for the challenges you are facing or have faced in life.

 

The things you’re grateful for can be deceptively simple, but the feeling of gratitude no matter how small can positively affect your health and physiology.

 

Studies have shown that regularly practicing and experiencing gratitude can lower your blood pressure, improve immune function and sleep. It can also help to bring your hormone levels into balance and reduce internal inflammation.  

In fact, a study conducted by the San Diego School of medicine found that individuals who had a regular gratitude practice had better heart health – lower heart rhythms and less inflammation – than those without a gratitude practice.

Gratitude also helps us to maintain a positive attitude and outlook. When we are moving through life without gratitude, we tend to focus on what’s going wrong or what is missing. Just as being positive and allowing ourselves to experience gratitude can positively affect our health, a lack of gratitude can negatively affect our health, increasing inflammation and contributing to disease.

Gratitude is especially important when you have a chronic illness.

I know this practice can seem “easier said than done”, especially for my patients with Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, and other chronic illnesses that can cause great pain and suffering. It’s important, however, even in these cases to spend 5-10 minutes each day thinking about the things that you are grateful for and feeling grateful.

I include this practice as part of the treatment plan for chronic disease because good health is not just about taking care of your physical body by eating the right foods and taking supplements. There is also a spiritual component, and this affects your health just as much as the more tangible interventions like diet and exercise.

If you are living with a chronic illness, I want you to start your gratitude practice by reassuring yourself that you are safe. Say out loud to yourself, “I am safe to feel.”

Acknowledge the parts of your body that are in pain and allow yourself to be grateful for the feeling. This can be challenging, but practice holding the body parts that are feeling pain and discomfort in your mind’s eye with care and compassion.

Imagine that the headache or the stomach pain that you are feeling is a small child and offer it comfort, imagining you are rocking that part of your body like a baby. As you are comforting that part of your body, say “thank you.”

Yes, I want you to actually thank your body for feeling weak or feeling pain. It sounds contradictory, I know, but the more you try to run away from the pain, the more intense it can become and the harder it can be to heal.

 

When we shift from a place of fear to one of gratitude, we change our physiology and create the space and ability to heal.

 

Pain is an indication that something has gone awry in your body, so if nothing else, we can be grateful to our bodies for providing us with this information.

If you start to judge yourself for being in pain and doubting your body’s ability to heal, I encourage you to find a picture of yourself as a child. Imagine saying all those negative and judgemental things to the child in the picture.

It’s much more difficult to speak harsh words of judgment when looking at a photo of your younger self. Instead, you’ll want to meet the innocence of your younger self with kindness and compassion. This is the same way you want to treat yourself as an adult, with self-compassion and kindness.

Remember, gratitude encourages healing on a physical level as well an emotional one. I encourage you to incorporate this practice into your daily routine. Sit with yourself and feel gratitude for everything in your life – both the positive and the challenging aspects.

As you know, November is the month of gratitude. For many of us, this involves ending the month by sharing a meal with family and friends on Thanksgiving. In the next blog in this four-part series on gratitude and health, I’ll be offering a few tips to help you nourish your physical body by eating healthily during the holiday season.

In the meantime, give this gratitude practice a try.  I promise you will feel better and your body will begin to heal from even the most difficult of illnesses.

xo,

 

 

Immune Boosting Tips to Help You Stay Well During Cold, Flu, and Allergy Season

Immune Boosting Tips to Help You Stay Well During Cold, Flu, and Allergy Season

Summer months have faded. The weather is cooler, and runny noses, congestion, and itchy eyes become more common occurrences for allergy sufferers.  

It’s officially Fall!

Not only does the change in seasons bring a change of weather, it also brings a change in the environmental allergens we’re exposed to – there are new pollens present in the air to challenge our immune systems.

This coupled with the cooler weather can make us more susceptible to viruses and infection. Taking all of this into consideration, I want to make sure you are prepared for Fall and Winter by sharing a few key immune-boosting practices that you can add to your wellness routine to help keep you well as the seasons change:

CLEANSE

The cold weather can make it harder for our bodies to clear out the pollen that sometimes accumulates in our sinus cavity. To counteract this, I recommend rinsing the sinus cavity three times each week. You can use a Neti Pot for this or Neilmed Sinus Rinse.

I also recommend keeping your mouth clean. Beyond simply brushing and flossing your teeth, it’s important to gargle with distilled salt water and clean your tongue with a tongue scraper. These areas attract pollen, so you can boost your immune system and support your health by keeping this environment clean.

 

STAY WARM

It’s cold outside, so we want our bodies to be warm. The best ways to do this are raising the temperature in your home, wearing warm clothing and scarves that protect your neck and throat, and eating warm foods. These immune-boosting practices will warm you up from the inside out by warming your chi or life force. Hot baths and time in the sauna can also be beneficial.

 

SLOW DOWN

November and December are colder months, so many of us stay inside more. You can use this increased time indoors for calm and quiet self-reflection. This is a great time to incorporate meditation into your wellness routine. Not only is this nourishing for the mind and spirit, but it also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of our nervous system responsible for rest and digestion. This can help improve sleep, decrease stress, and reduce internal inflammation. These are all essential for boosting immunity.  

 

NOURISH YOUR BODY

To boost your immune system and keep yourself healthy and well this Fall and Winter, incorporate these immune-boosting foods into your diet:

    • Ginger contains phytonutrients that help fight viruses that can cause respiratory illness. It can also help break down mucus to help clear your respiratory tract and alleviate symptoms of congestion.
    • Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also makes a delicious, warming tea. Be sure to consume it with a pinch of black pepper for optimal absorption (1).
    • Soups are perfect for warming you up on cold days. They can also be incredibly nourishing and delicious. Here is a recipe for one of my favorites.
    • Garlic and other vegetables in the allium family, like leeks, onions, and shallots, contain organosulfur compounds that can reduce your risk of contracting a cold or flu. Studies have also shown that it reduces the severity of symptoms and the duration of illness if you do happen to get sick (2).
    • Seasonal citrus, like oranges and mandarins, are high in vitamin c, which is essential for immune system health.

You’ll also want to be mindful of your sugar intake as it can weaken your immune system if eaten in excess.

In addition to incorporating immune-boosting foods into your diet, there are a few supplements that I often recommend patients take to maintain the health of their immune system: Aller-ease for allergy relief, Acute Immune, and Immuno Pro to support the body’s defenses against seasonal immune challenges, and Vitamin D to optimize immunity (3).  

November is the beginning of cold and flu season, but more importantly, it is also the month of gratitude.

I’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks, but you can prepare for what’s to come by setting aside 5 minutes each day to acknowledge three or four things that you are grateful for. This is a practice that can actually change your physiology over time, so I encourage you to add this to your wellness routine this month along with the other immune boosting tools mentioned in this post.

These will all help you to maintain the health of your immune system and stay well during the Fall and Winter months.

xo,

 

 

Nourish Your Spirit for Mental Wellness

Nourish Your Spirit for Mental Wellness

When we talk about mental illness in the medical community, the conversation tends to be about neurotransmitter production, diet, exercise, and medication. And while I’ve touched on a few of these topics in this series on mental health, I believe there is one important aspect of mental health that often gets left out of the conversation: spirituality.

So in this fourth, and final blog of this series, I want to offer a few ways that you can nourish your spirit. This is an essential part of maintaining your mental health, whether you’re living with a mental illness or not.

Before we get started, however, I want to remind you that the information shared here is not meant to replace a relationship with a therapist or other healthcare provider. If you are in need of more personalized support, you can find a licensed mental health practitioner here, and 24/7 assistance is also available here should you need more immediate support.

 

How to nourish your spirit for a healthy mind

Spirituality.

This topic may be new to some of you and is easily misunderstood, so I want to take second to define it.

Spirituality, as I’m using it here, refers to your inner world or energetic life force and connection to a higher meaning or purpose. It’s not particularly religious, although it can be. My personal spiritual experiences are rooted in growing up Catholic but expand beyond religion. Know that spirituality and connection to your spirit can be non-denominational.  

It’s important to maintain a connection to and nourish your spirit whether you are living with a mental illness or not. However, it becomes even more important when you are living with anxiety and depression since these mental illnesses can cause us to feel disconnected from ourselves and make it challenging to find meaning and purpose in life.

Without a deeper meaning or connection to something greater than ourselves, depressive episodes and anxiety can become much more challenging to manage.

 

You can connect to your inner spirit by doing the following as part of your wellness routine:

 

Create a sacred space

Whether you are new to the idea of spirituality or not, having a space that is conducive to connection and self-reflection is essential for your mental and emotional nourishment and well-being.

To start, choose a quiet space that feels safe and comfortable for you. In this space you’ll want to have a place to sit, like a cozy chair or a floor cushion. It may also help to have a small table where you can place objects or pictures that are special to you.

In my sacred space, I have pictures of my relatives, a set of angel cards, my favorite essential oils, as well as palo santo, sage, and a salt lamp.

 

Make time to reflect

Another way to nourish your spirit and maintain mental wellness is by making time to reflect. Get curious about your feelings and your wellbeing. I find journaling helps with this process.

Without judgment, as yourself questions like:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What people, places, and activities do I enjoy?
  • What can I do to invite more joy into my life?
  • What steps can I take to move in the direction of the life I envision?

Write down your answers and take small, actionable steps toward creating change. Remember, to be kind and compassionate with yourself in this process. Creating change can be challenging with a mental illness, so start small and seek out support when you need it.

 

Ground Yourself

Often, with anxiety and depression, our thoughts can become consumed by events of the past or projections into the future. In times when you find yourself becoming consumed by your thoughts, nourish your spirit by taking time to ground yourself in the present moment.

Put your feet on the floor and allow yourself to notice one thing in your environment that you can see – say what you see out loud. Do the same with your other senses. 

 

Notice one thing that you can hear, smell, and touch. Say each thing out loud. For example, “I see a white wall…”

When you’re feeling more settled, it may also be helpful to incorporate a simple breathing exercise:

  1. Relax your shoulders as much as possible, then inhale slowly and deeply through your nose.
  2. Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you exhale, purse your lips slightly, keeping your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
  3. Repeat this breathing exercise 3-5 times, then breathe normally.

This breathing exercise can be done standing up, sitting down, or lying down. However, if you find this exercise to be challenging or believe it is making you more anxious or panicky, stop and revisit it at another time.

Meditate or Pray

Growing up in Ecuador I was raised Catholic. When I was a little girl, I found the church to be a very spiritually nourishing space, so much so that I would spend my lunch breaks at school in the chapel meditating, praying, and connecting with what I believe to be a higher power.

I discovered my connection to God or this higher Source, in the chapel, but you don’t have to go to a church to make this connection. Some people feel connected to something greater than themselves when meditating.

 

Whether you pray meditate, go out in nature, or something else, make time for a spiritual practice and prioritize your spiritual nourishment by making time to connect to whomever or whatever you identify as your life source or higher power.

 

This is a connection that you can utilize for support and strength when you are in need of balance.

Personally, I spend a lot of time in spiritual practice because even though I am a doctor and this topic isn’t discussed often in the medical field, I find that it plays a significant role in helping me to maintain both my mental and physical health.

I encourage you to explore this aspect of nourishment – it can be an incredible source of healing and support when you are managing anxiety and depression.

Remember, health and wellness are not limited to your spiritual body, it includes our emotional well-being and spirit as well. Try to keep them all in mind as you’re creating and implementing new health habits and routines.

xo,

 

 

7 Life Practices to Prevent Anxiety and Depression

7 Life Practices to Prevent Anxiety and Depression


Welcome back to my four-part blog series on mental health. So far we’ve talked about anxiety and depression, what they are and their root causes.

In this blog post, the third in the series, I want to offer you some tools for prevention, so I’ll be sharing a few resources that I use personally and recommend to my patients to prevent anxiety and depression and keep our minds healthy.

Before we dive in, I want to remind you that while these resources can be helpful in preventing bouts of anxiety and depression, they are not meant to replace medical care. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or depression, reach out to a health practitioner for guidance and support.

 

Therapies and Practices for a Healthy Mind

Set aside time for yourself

Life is busy, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily living. Working, parenting, prioritizing everyone and everything except ourselves.

All of those things are important, but so are you. It’s really important to set aside time to be with yourself if you want to maintain and healthy mind and prevent anxiety and depression.

 

Get support from a professional that you trust

If you’ve experienced anxiety and depression, you know that they sometimes cause us to ruminate or continuously think about people, places, or situations that are upsetting. To combat this, it can be helpful to have professional support – someone to help you put things into perspective and offer tools for personal assessment and reflection.

I personally see a life coach twice a month. Having someone to check in with and to offer perspective is essential to my mental wellness and something that helps me prevent anxiety and depression in my life.

Working with my life coach has helped me to gain clarity around my life and my feelings. He helps me to assess where I am with everything in my life and provides tools to assist me in daily self-reflection.

There is a lot of guidance that happens in his office, but whether you see a life coach, therapist, or another health practitioner, there is also work to be done on your own.

 

Breathe

Running a busy (and growing) practice can be overwhelming for me at times, so setting aside time to breathe and check in with myself is a non-negotiable daily practice for me.

I sit for 20 minutes twice a day in a quiet space breathing and connecting with myself. I notice how I’m doing and what I’m feeling in my body.

Our bodies are incredibly wise, so setting aside time to check in and notice what’s present for you in your body can be really telling.

I encourage you to add this to your daily routine to help prevent anxiety and depression, make time to connect with your breath and your body. If 20 minutes feels like a challenge to fit into your schedule, start with 5 minutes.

No matter how much time you decide to incorporate, make sure it’s quality time. Get intimate with yourself and cultivate a relationship with your body. Take the time to pay attention to what you’re feeling, sit with your emotions, observe them without becoming attached. Most importantly, hold space for yourself in the same way you hold space for others.

 

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is essential for a healthy mind

Your mind is a beautiful machine that works all day to keep your body functioning and well. It also produces the neurotransmitters you need to keep your mind healthy, like serotonin and dopamine. Without adequate sleep this process can become impaired, leading to bouts of anxiety and depression.

If you are having difficulty sleeping, a supplement like Mood 5-HTP may help. I recommend this often to patients as it supports the body in producing the serotonin you need at night for more restful sleep.

 

Connect with Nature

Connecting with nature is one of my favorite ways to reconnect with myself when I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I especially love spending time at the beach.

Recently, I spent four days at the beach to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Initially, I thought I was going to use some of the time to catch up on work, but once I got there, I realized that I really needed a break. I needed time to reset after weeks of working non-stop, so I decided to put work aside to make time for self-care and rest.

I forced myself to pause, which created time and space for me to be more present and connect with nature more intentionally. Spending my time communing with nature, instead of working, helped me to feel more grounded and energized. I encourage you to do the same.

Step away from your computer or your phone and go outside.

Go to the mountains or the water, whatever terrain makes you feel most at peace. Make time to take off your shoes, feel the earth, and breathe in the fresh air. Being outdoors, connecting with nature, supports the body’s natural cleansing process. It can also help your body reset and find its natural rhythm. All of these things are important as you work to maintain a healthy mind and body (1).

 

Exercise

Exercise and a healthy mind are directly linked. When you exercise the blood flow to areas of the brain, like the hippocampus, is increased, resulting in an increase in brain volume as well as an increase in the production of the neurochemicals that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections (2). Research has shown that it can also reduce anxiety and depression (3).

Part of my daily movement routine is walking for at least 20 minutes, but find the type of exercise that works for you and incorporate it into your wellness routine at least three times each week.

 

Take supplements to ensure proper nutrition

Another way you can prevent anxiety and depression is to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need on a daily basis to support the health of your brain and body. These are the supplements I take and recommend to my patients:

 

As you can see, there are several things you can do to prevent anxiety and depression and maintain a healthy mind. Many of them are easier to incorporate than you think!

In the next (and last) blog post in this series on mental health, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the connection between spirituality and mental health. It’s a topic that isn’t spoken about as often as it should be, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for what’s to come.

xo,

 

 

 

Understanding the Root Cause of Anxiety and Depression

Understanding the Root Cause of Anxiety and Depression

As we continue to focus on mental health during October, mental health awareness month, I want to emphasize again that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Your mental wellness can affect every aspect of your life, including your work, your relationships, and the way you experience the world. Similarly, the causes of mental illness, anxiety, and depression specifically are multifactorial, so in this blog post, I want to discuss the root causes of anxiety and depression based on what I see most frequently in my clinic.

Root Causes of Anxiety and Depression

 

1. Chronic Stress and Overwhelm

In times of stress, your brain signals different glands in your body to produce the hormones you need to respond to the stressful situation. This process is known most commonly as “fight or flight” and one of the glands it involves are the adrenal glands. In this process, your adrenal glands secrete a hormone that you’ve most likely heard of, adrenaline.

Adrenaline can cause your heart rate to increase, your breathing to become more rapid, and you become more sensitive and aware of any potential threat or danger in your environment. This process is helpful when there is an actual threat or dangerous situation. However, because we live such busy and stressful lives, our adrenals are often working overtime to adjust, even when there is no real threat or danger.

Being in this state of hyperarousal continuously can cause anxiety.

The longer you remain in this state, the more fatigued your adrenals become, which can lead to depression and many of the symptoms that accompany it, like fatigue, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping.

This is something I see often with my patients, but have also experienced myself – when I overwork and push myself beyond my natural limits, I start to feel anxiety and overwhelm.

It’s important that we take the time to decompress and practice self-care so our adrenal glands don’t become stressed and fatigued, so we can avoid this root cause of depression and anxiety.

 

2. Hormone Imbalances

It’s not uncommon to experience depression and anxiety during periods in life when we undergo natural hormonal changes. For women, these major hormone shifts happen during puberty, during and after pregnancy, and before and during menopause. Similarly, for men, hormonal changes occur during puberty and andropause.

Many of my patients that have gone through pregnancy experience postpartum depression. I also have several patients who experience depression and anxiety due to premenstrual syndrome or PMS (1).

If you aren’t under a significant amount of stress, the root cause of anxiety and depression, for you, could be a hormone imbalance. Be sure to have your hormone levels checked regularly by your healthcare provider.

 

3. Isolation

As humans were are social creatures, meant to interact and commune with others. However, many of us are living behind the screens of our computers and our phones missing out on in-person social interactions and the nourishment we get from being in community with others. This can lead to the third root cause of depression and anxiety: isolation.

If you find yourself glued to your phone frequently, designate time to put it down and interact with the people around you.

Share your experiences with friends, enjoy the company of family. Connect with others in real time, not just via social media, email, and text messages (2).

Support groups are also a great resource for community and connection if you’re feeling isolated and want to connect with people who may have similar interests or concerns.

 

4. Lack of Purpose

Another root cause of depression and anxiety is a lack of purpose, or living an unfulfilled life.

What often gets overlooked in mental health are the spiritual components, those that would be considered more existential in nature. I believe we are all here for a reason and we all have a life path that will make us feel fulfilled and give our lives meaning.

If you find that your life is lacking joy, meaning or purpose, take some time access your life and think about what might bring you joy and the gifts you have to share with the world. Examining these things and incorporating more of them into your life may help you experience life differently.

 

5. Diet

Your gut is your second brain (3). It is home to bacteria and fungi that can affect your mood if imbalanced. It also produces many of the neurochemicals that you need for mood regulation and stabilization, like serotonin and dopamine. I often see patients that have an overgrowth of specific fungi or bacteria, like Candida, that are also struggling with anxiety or depression.

Avoiding this root cause of anxiety and depression is one of many reasons to eat a well-balanced diet.

 

Many people think of mental illness as a chemical imbalance in the brain and while there are imbalances at play, they are not just happening in the brain.

 

If you are living with mental illness and want to better understand what the root causes may be, access the five elements mentioned in this blog post and take a look at the first blog post in this series if you haven’t already.

I hope they provide you with some of the information you need to understand and assess what might be contributing to any anxiety or depression you may be experiencing.

xo,

 

 

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Disclaimer: In a crisis or having thoughts of suicide? Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255). It is a free, 24-hour hotline.

 

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