I’ve had a rocky couple of months, and it’s been hard on my life, my optimistic nature and my relationship. Somewhere along the line I started seeing Geraldine Shute, LAc, over at Deep Healing Acupuncture*.
At first we were just addressing my intense arm pain (due to overambitious work habits), but after a few months we delved into the physical reasons for my mood swings, which, it must be admitted, were starting to rule my life.
She recommended the following changes:
Sunshine in the Morning
Get twenty minutes of sunshine in before 10 a.m.. I chose to do this with a morning walk. It sounds so simple, but for someone who works at home, it was a challenge to leave the house before the work day was over, and now that it’s dark at 5pm, that means greeting a world shrouded in night.
It’s more than just getting out. Sunshine stimulates your body to produce Vitamin D3, and a scarcity of it can lead to all sorts of health issues (check out this resource a quick google just found me).
Morning sunshine does more than just create Vitamin D3; it signals your brain to stop producing a sleepy neurochemical, and to start producing serotonin (which makes you feel good!!). Having specialized in brain chemistry in college, I immediately recognized this usefulness. Serotonin is essential to being happy, and is produced by exercise, video games and lots and lots of addictive drugs. Who knew we could stimulate its production just by getting a little morning sunshine??
Omega Supplements with added Vitamin D3
Your brain is comprised of tons and tons of lipids, or fats. Mine is too. We live in a world where it’s hard to get Omega 6’s (an essential form of fat) as I’m sure you’ve heard. Taking Omega supplements will provide your brain with a coating of lipids.
I like to look at it as a little Omega buffer between you and the world. You know how if you have an open wound, and you brush against something, or something pokes it, how much it hurts? You know how little it hurts if you have a band-aid on? That’s what I understand Omega supplements do for you. Without it, your brain reacts more harshly to upsets than need be. Introduce some daily Omega supplements and you’re golden.
It must be noted that it takes two weeks of daily Omega supplements to feel the effects fully. I’m on day 8 and I feel better. For serious.
Not all Omega supplements are created equal. My acupuncturist recommends Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega with D3, which is comprised of fish oil, something your body easily digests and incorporates into the brain. Of course, it does come with some fishy burps on occasion, but it’s a small price (in my opinion) for feeling better and can be avoided by taking them with meals.
An added benefit to choosing Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega with D3 is that they also contain Vitamin D3, mentioned above, and will help replicate some of that sunshiney feeling in you. Can’t argue with that.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain; this means that it has a calming effect. For those who are prone to stressing out, a GABA supplement taken as needed can help calm the overworked anxiety systems. Geraldine does warn, however, that there should be some caution taken when introducing GABA to your diet. I know from my history in neurochemistry that introducing any neurotransmitter regularly will effect your brain’s normal production, a delicate balance that we often mess with but needs to be respected. She suggests that you consult a medical practitioner before incorporating GABA supplements, but also notes that you can pick it up at any drugstore (or on Amazon by following my links).
Do Stuff that Makes You Happy
A website devoted to helping you feel happy is The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin, the creator of the site and author of The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, has a blog of all sorts of suggestions to increase your happiness.
I’ve found that happy music, singing in the morning, and punctuating my day with Zumba youtube dance videos (dance along, it’s fun!) and jumping jacks, keeps my spirits up in the face of adversity.
If Geraldine hadn’t asked me to start paying attention to my moods, I wouldn’t have noticed that the days when I walk in the morning I’m happier than the others, or that I am known to go from singing in the rain to bawling at a cell phone commercial within an hour. I always thought that my moods were in charge of me, and that is not an empowering way to view the world. Taking charge of my moods by noticing my triggers and what helps or doesn’t has been a powerful tool in feeling good.
I leave you with Levon Helm’s song, Feelin’ Good. A man who faced throat cancer, recovered, and has released three albums since, I find him a continual inspiration. Though this song may arguably be about using retail therapy to feel good, I like it and it makes me feel good. I would love to hear from you what songs make you feel good!
*It has to be noted that it was with a sorry heart that I didn’t continue seeing Christine Friel, LAc, at Double Happiness Health. The trek to Potrero Hill was more than my weakened state could take twice a month, but I recommend her very highly. For the east bay folks, I also highly recommend Geraldine. Message me for more info!