The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~Chinese Proverb~

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The Online Self Improvement and Self Help Encyclopedia

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Our senses are indeed our doors and windows on this world, in a very real sense the key to the unlocking of meaning and the wellspring of creativity.

~ Jean Houston ~

life one step at a time . . .

There are very few human beings who
receive the truth, complete and staggering,
by instant illumination.  Most of them acquire
it fragment by fragment, on a small scale,
by successive developments, cellularly,
like a laborious mosaic.

~Anaïs Nin~

The Tragedy of Hiding Individual and Societal Shame

March 31, 2014

The hiding of human emotion is common in modern culture. We become so good at it that we end up hiding our emotions not just from others, but from ourself. We pay a high price for this coverup, individually and as a society.

“Emotions are like breathing—they cause trouble only when obstructed,” says Thomas Scheff, sociology professor at UC Santa Barbara.

In a recently published paper, Scheff examines the emotion shame. In our society that reveres individualism, Scheff finds that shame is the most obstructed emotion. Because it is the most hidden, it is also the most destructive.

Hidden vs. Helpful Shame

This does not mean all shame is bad. If you have ever done or said something hurtful, and then experienced an inner jolt of shame, that is your internal sense of morality or compassion reigning in your behavior. Paying attention to our natural shame reactions helps us cultivate good relationships.

The shame that withers our soul comes from the mouths of others. If we hear, “Shame on you,” often enough, we forget shame is about questionable behavior and begin to think of our self as being shameful. We may react to this shame by fearing to assert ourself, or by becoming aggressive.

Professor Scheff points out that hidden shame, which is prevalent in our culture right now, may be responsible for both individual and societal acts of aggression. There is research supporting the idea that behind violent behavior lies hidden feelings of humiliation.

Societal Shame and Aggression

“Especially for leaders, both shame and anger are carefully hidden behind a veil of rationality,” writes Scheff. For instance, Scheff suggests the U.S. invasion into Iraq after 9/11 may be owed to the Bush administration’s hidden sense of helplessness and shame over the terrorist attack.

People in modern societies learn to be “civic respectable” and hide their anger and shame. Yet, most of us experience both emotions. If they are not expressed effectively, they will be expressed ineffectively or to our detriment.

Resolving Hidden Shame

Shame is epidemic in our society, yet those who feel shame usually feel alone. Know that, except for a few rare individuals, everyone in the modern world—consciously or unconsciously—has issues with shame.

When asked how to resolve hidden shame, Professor Scheff had some excellent advice, use laughter:

“That is, laugh at yourself or at the universe or at your circumstances, but not at other people. Most of the laughing we do in comedy is good. No matter the actors, we are really laughing at our own selves that we see in their foolishness.”

If your sense of shame is deeply ingrained and beyond the effects of laughter, seek out someone you can talk to. You need to express your feelings and have the experience of being accepted as you are.

Source: Science Daily

You can also read the article HERE

Why Self-Compassion Is A Wise and Practical Choice

February 26, 2014

Compassionate action arises when we understand that beneath our different circumstances and appearances lies an essential oneness, a shared human experience.

Though we know this oneness includes our self, many of us have an easier time extending compassion to strangers than to the person reflected in our bathroom mirror. However, by not showing self-compassion we exclude ourself from the human race.

Self-compassion means:

  • Relating to the self with concern and kindness.
  • We see that flaws, failures, and pain are part of the human condition, and that the person we call “I” shares in the human condition.
  • Admitting that we are one of those “other people” who deserve appreciation and respect.

The Power of Warmth

In cold climates, ice often builds up on the sidewalk. Frequently, before trying to remove the ice, people sprinkle salt on it so it begins to melt. This makes breaking the ice up and shoveling it away much easier.

Any problem we may have, such as depression or anxiety, can seem to be a thick, slippery buildup of ice. We may chop away at it with self-criticism until we feel exhausted, or we can soften the ice by treating ourself kindly.

Self-compassion is a gentle warmth that loosens the icy grip of self-condemnation. It is not just a lofty spiritual ideal, but part of the human heart’s practical, healing wisdom.

So, it seems choosing the compassionate way would be a no-brainer, but for many of us it is a tough decision.

Tough Self-Love

What is tough about self-compassion?

  • It takes courage to let go of the habitual self-critical thoughts we have identified with for much of our lives.
  • It takes daring to embrace self-nurturing thoughts that seem foreign and maybe even foolish.
  • It takes determination because you must prove the benefits of self-compassion to yourself (words such as these prove nothing, but may encourage the effort to apply self-compassion and see how it works).

Fortunately, we do not have to embrace self-compassion all at once; the human condition is built into the process. We experiment, succeed one moment, fail the next, doubt, lose hope, get fed-up with our situation, re-contemplate compassion, and try again.

Yet, trying does not mean engaging in a series of grand gestures—compassion is effective when gestures are small.

Three Ways To Build A Self-Compassion Habit

You do not have to feel compassionate to act compassionate. All acts of self-kindness, felt or not, will disrupt established patterns of self-critical thought.

  1. Instead of reacting to self-criticism by refusing to be self-critical or pushing the thoughts away, simply notice the feeling or feelings that come with the criticism. Being aware of how you feel—without trying to escape the feeling—is an act of self-compassion.
  2. Once or twice during the day, lay a gentle hand over your heart (as you would rest a compassionate hand on the shoulder of a friend). Simultaneously send yourself a kind thought such as, “You’re human, I get it. I’m on my side.”
  3. When realizing that you have indulged in some hearty self-criticism give yourself a lighthearted pep talk such as, “Whoa, there I go again, being hard on myself - not helpful.”

You can also read the article HERE.

Meditating on Compassion Builds a Happy Brain

September 27, 2013

When you roll a genetic scientist and monk into one human being, you end up with Matthieu Ricard, a very happy individual with a passion for the perks of meditation.

He wants others to understand that meditation alters the brain just as weight-lifting changes muscle, and that anyone who trains his or her brain can be happy.

The Proof Is in the Brain Pudding

The proof is in Ricard’s own brain. When scientist Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin wired Ricard’s skull with 256 sensors, the scientist discovered something astonishing. Scans revealed that as Ricard meditated on compassion, his brain produced gamma wave levels “never reported before in the neuroscience literature,” said Davidson.

Ricard’s brain also showed intense activity in the left prefrontal cortex, but not in right side, indicating minimal negative thought activity and a hefty capacity for the experience of happiness.

“It’s a wonderful area of research because it shows that meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree, but it completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are,” says Ricard.

What’s Great About Gamma Waves?

Of all our brain waves, gammas have the smallest amplitude and the fastest frequency. Neuroscientists believe gamma waves connect information coming from all areas of the brain and are associated with high levels of mental clarity and focus. We all have gamma brainwave activity, but the amount varies. Low gamma activity has been linked to memory and learning problems.

Benefits of Cultivating Gamma Waves

  • Better memory; vivid and rapid recall
  • Heightened sensory perception
  • Increased ability to focus and assimilate whole scenarios
  • The brain processes more information more quickly
  • Happier, calmer disposition

Focusing On Feelings of Compassion

Other studies have validated that meditators, especially when focusing on feelings of compassion, produce gobs of gamma waves while meditating. The left prefrontal cortex activity increases, enhancing self-control, compassion and happiness. Activity in the amygdala, the brain’s fight or flight hub, decreases.

Ricard does not consider living well and showing compassion to be a religious law, but rather a very practical means of happiness. “Try sincerely to check, to investigate,” says Ricard. “That’s what Buddhism has been trying to unravel – the mechanism of happiness and suffering. It is a science of the mind.”

Starting Small

We can all create a habit of meditating by starting small. A minute or two of meditation with a focus on compassion just before rising in the morning, and another minute upon retiring can be the beginning of a powerful practice of gamma wave happiness.

Or, read the article HERE

Sources: thebuddhism.net; omharmonics

Solid, Liquid, Gas: Water Can Teach Us Thought Management

September 3, 2013

We know that water can be a solid, liquid or gas. That makes water an excellent metaphor or illustration for thoughts, which can also be a solid, liquid or gas.

What we feel has much to do with how we think. Knowing the difference between “types” of thoughts can help us manage our depression, anxiety or other mental illness.

Solid Thoughts . . .

Our thoughts become solid when we believe them. Believing a thought makes it a part of our mindset, and our mindset affects our emotions and our body. These solid thoughts provide a framework for our lives, a self-image, so we must choose them wisely.

For instance, if you believe the thought that you are powerless, that thought becomes one of a cluster of thoughts that you call “me.” When you think of “me” or “I,” it will include powerlessness because your belief has made that a reality. Solid ideas create our self-image. If our self-image is peppered with thoughts such as, “I am powerless,” our self-image will contribute to a depressed or anxious mood.

How to Manage Them

Some psychotherapies address the solid thoughts that create a problematic self-image. For instance, cognitive or psycho-dynamic therapies help individuals identify beliefs that have been held for so long they seem like facts. Once we know our negative-effect beliefs, we can melt them with our awareness and choose more effective ones to hold on to.

Liquid Thoughts . . .

Thought has often been compared to a river. The river of thought contains all possible thoughts. This rush of ideas is available to an open and curious mind, an intention to learn or create. As thoughts flow, they help us do work by turning the wheels in our mind. “Liquid” ideas are free to collide and make interesting connections. They inspire and sometimes enlighten us.

How to Use Them

The river of thought is not positive or negative, but work done there will reflect the heart and intentions of the person using it. If we take any of the river’s thoughts and hang on to them tightly, they lose energy and become a solid. This is not necessarily bad. Ice has its uses. However, we need to be aware of how we use thought so that we are not trapped within it.

Gas Thoughts . . .

When we stop working with thoughts and observe them, they become clouds scudding across the sky. If the mind is exceptionally still, thought is as invisible as humidity in the air. Observing without making judgments (thinking) is being mindful.

How to Free Them

When we are mindful, thoughts are wispy things that carry no personal baggage or emotional weight. They are no longer about us. We experience that being, or being alive, does not depend on thinking. If we know moments of mental stillness, it becomes apparent that the drama of our daily thoughts is not life nor who we are.

When we again engage our thoughts, they lose some of their gaseous vibrancy and we find ourselves back in the river of thought, thinking, inventing, collecting, comparing, measuring, making our living and sharing our ideas with others.

Or, read it HERE

One Woman’s Experience with PTSD Stigma and Recovery: An Interview

July 28, 2013

You learn the most about mental health diagnoses by talking to people who have them, especially those who have lived with symptoms for many years.

I interviewed Ginny, a 50-something-year-old woman who has struggled with, and learned to manage, symptoms of PTSD.

Part of Ginny’s PTSD journey is dealing with the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis. She is eager to share her thoughts on this subject, hoping that it will help to eliminate the public’s fear and misunderstanding of PTSD and other mental illnesses. Ginny also enjoys sharing her experience because it proves that recovery from mental illness is possible.

J. Marshall: Ginny, before learning to manage your PTSD symptoms, how did you experience the stigma of having emotional and mental difficulties?

Ginny: I always knew that I had severe emotional problems and that I was extremely sad from the time I was four-years-old until I was diagnosed at the age of 32 with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) Having been born into a strict religious cult and not exposed to the outside world until I was 22 years of age, I felt like I was a freak because I couldn’t relate to anything that people around me were talking about.

When I did get married or get jobs, people would ask me questions about myself, and not having learned discretion at all, I would tell them truthful answers which only served to produce more questions, until they would finally try to slip away and act like they wished they had never talked to me at all! That felt like stigma to me. It felt like I had something so bad inside me that made acquaintances turn away from me and that I might never have friends.

JM: Do you think stigma is less of a problem now than it was say, 15 years ago?

Ginny: Now that I’ve had therapy and give back to the clients at the [mental health treatment] center that helped me so much, I don’t think stigma has improved much at all, due to the fact that the very people who are now in charge of the day treatment program seem to feel they are just babysitting adult people who cannot improve their lives. The clients who are wanting to go forward in their treatment are not getting the coping skills they so desperately need and want.

JM: What symptoms of PTSD were/are the most difficult to live with, and what has helped you learn to manage them?

Ginny: Some of my symptoms that were hard to manage and got me in trouble with coworkers and friends were: dissociating, feeling worthless when I made mistakes (being taught they were sins), being sensitive with sound, never believing the sad would ever go sway, no positive coping skills, a very high startle response, as well as hyper-vigilance.

Some coping skills that have helped me manage these symptoms are: grounding techniques, being taught I have rights, gaining autonomy, using Bose noise cancellation headphones in crowds, restaurants and movies, finding a purpose in life, giving back to others by co-facilitating a NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] support group for people living with a mental illness, and sharing my story with nursing students through NAMI’s In Our Own Voice presentations.

JM: Do you notice any myths or misperceptions about PTSD being generated or perpetuated in the media?

Ginny: I don’t think that the media has done a good job of covering how PTSD can affect a person again and again throughout their lifetime and that it is not usually a one-time event where you go through therapy and you get all better and that’s it. You never know what triggers can bring back flashbacks and nightmares in an instant and sometimes it takes an up and down hill battle to deal with the effects of PTSD.

JM: When we spoke prior to this interview, you mentioned that PTSD in the veteran community is getting most of the attention these days. Do you want to comment on that?

Ginny: I do think that childhood physical/sexual/emotional abuse and neglect has been pushed to the background with all the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan during this past decade. The government suddenly found money to fund websites and time to fund research into PTSD for veterans, even though it has existed for years! Those of us who suffered severe abuse have been neglected by the system, as well as our abusers, it feels like sometimes. People and the media only seem to think of veterans when they think of PTSD and that is sad.

JM: What would you like to tell people who are just beginning their journey of recovery with PTSD?

Ginny: If you have just found out that you have the diagnosis of PTSD, please know that recovery is a process and be very gentle and forgiving with yourself. None of it was your fault. You had no control over how it came to be, whether you were a child who was emotionally, physically or sexually abused or neglected, or if you witnessed a horrific event, or if you were a soldier in some war. It’s not your fault! Try to get professional help, if at all possible. You are worth it!

You are lovable and a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars!” ~ Desiderata

Or, read it HERE

Dreams and Depression: How the Depressed Brain Does Sleep

July 14, 2013

In The Twenty-Four Hour Mind, sleep researcher Rosalind D. Cartwright writes about dreams as a means of regulating distressing emotion.

She also shares what research has discovered about rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in people who are  depressed.

Cartwright believes that dreams, which occur during REM sleep, come from the interplay of our new experiences and the memories we have stored. Dream images are generated as a pattern recognition between recent emotionally charged events and memories that have a similar emotional flavor.

An emotionally charged experience, by interacting with relevant memories in a dream, diffuses its emotional charge. This process also alters or updates our memory files with new experiential information.

Sleep is a busy time, interweaving streams of thought with emotional values attached, as they fit or challenge the organizational structure that represents our identity. One function of all this action, I believe, is to regulate disturbing emotion in order to keep it from disrupting our sleep and subsequent waking functioning. ~ Rosalind D. Cartwright

Unfortunately, people with depression tend to have abnormal cycles of REM sleep. This gums up our dreams' work of emotional modulation.

Depressed Sleepers

Researchers have discovered several sleep differences between severely depressed individuals and those who are not depressed:

  1. People with severe depression slip into REM sleep sooner than non-depressed sleepers. They may begin dreaming only 45 minutes into their sleep, cutting the normal amount of initial deep, non-dreaming sleep in half. The loss of this deep sleep cannot be fully recovered during the night.
  2. The REM sleep may not only start too early but also last up to twice as long as is considered normal (about 10 minutes is normal).
  3. The eye movements of depressed individuals during REM are often too frequent or not frequent enough.
  4. Our body releases its biggest spurt of human growth hormone (HGH) during the first deep sleep cycle of the night. The HGH release does not occur in depressed sleepers whose deep sleep is disrupted by early REM. HGH allows our physical body to repair itself. A lack of it means our body will be slower to heal or grow.
  5. Depressed individuals awakened during early onset REM are usually unable to recall their dreams.
  6. During REM, depressed dreamers have higher emotional brain center activity than non-depressed dreamers.
  7. During REM, depressed dreamers have high activity in areas of the brain responsible for decision making and rational thought; non-depressed dreamers do not.
  8. Depressed sleepers have too little slow-wave sleep (SWS) which is characteristic of the third and fourth stages of our sleep cycle.

Another interesting fact to come out of brain imaging research is that antidepressants dampen REM sleep. This might be why depressed sleepers have poor dream recall and could be why antidepressants are often effective in relieving depression.

The question remains whether depression is caused by sleep abnormalities or depression triggers sleep abnormalities. Either way, it does not mean “life is but a dream,” though for people with depression it might be said that “a good mood is but a normal dream cycle.”

Or, read the article HERE

We May Give Our Brain Too Much Credit For Our Behavior

June 27, 2013

We have been taught that thinking (cognition) happens in the gray matter housed in our skull.

It is natural for us to assume that everything we do is the result of complex mental computations that go on there. And it is logical for us to assume that if a person is not managing life well, the problem must lie between the ears.

Embodied Cognition

Embodied cognition is an idea that turns our belief about the brain’s central role in thinking on its head. This theory suggests that what the body perceives as we interact with the environment is just as responsible for our behavior, and getting us to our goals, as the brain.

This idea changes the brain’s job description.

  • Old job description: The brain translates incoming data, then uses that knowledge to order our unconscious and conscious behavior and actions.
  • New job description: The brain is one part of a broader thought system that processes perception and action as we interact with the environment.

This means the environment and our bodies are not just influences on our thought process but are essential mechanisms of thought processing.

How this Relates to Mental Health

The concept of embodied cognition has not altered mainstream perceptions of mental health or mental illness, but it might. Anyone who has holistic thoughts about well-being can relate to the implications of embodied cognition:

  1. Our sense of self and our experience of being in the world are aspects of a brain-body-environment thought processing system.
  2. What we call thought disorders are actually a disturbance of our brain-body-environment awareness and thinking system.

This expanded notion of cognition complements our current knowledge and treatment of mental disorders. Our brain is, after all, part of the thinking process, and current treatments address this. Yet embodied cognition does imply that the traditional psychological focus on brain function is too narrow.

Consider Schizophrenia

Because of embodied cognition, it has been theorized that the symptoms of schizophrenia are owed to a disruption of communication between the environmental, body and brain processing mechanisms. To put it another way, thinking becomes disembodied, losing its connection to the body and the environment.

The disembodiment leads to feelings of emptiness or loss of self as well as alienation from others and one’s surroundings. It necessitates navigating through life by performing everyday behaviors as separate, unrelated actions instead of fluid brain-body-environment behaviors.

Also Consider Melancholic Depression

Melancholic depression,  in light of cognitive embodiment, might be viewed as “hyper-embodiment.” The body loses some of its ability to connect with the world and cannot fluidly process data from the environment. Without this connection, an individual is less attuned to others and feels both detached and emotionally stunted. The body becomes too solid, and the person feels trapped in a world of reduced possibilities.

Making this Information Practical

The theory of embodied cognition may someday change the way we view mental health and thought disorders. In the meantime, it is fascinating food for thought and inspiration.

  1. The theory of cognitive embodiment is yours to think about – or not. However, anyone with a mental illness can only help themselves by staying informed about the latest research and ideas in psychology and neuroscience. Keep an open, flexible mind.
  2. Continue to experiment with ideas and activities to find those that help you to cope with your psychiatric symptoms or to heal. Think holistically and pay attention to all aspects of your life: social, occupational, leisure, spiritual, mental, physical and emotional.
  3. Theories such as cognitive embodiment remind us how unique our experience of the world is and how integrated our life is with all that surrounds us.

Continue reading HERE

More Magnesium Could Mean Less Anxiety

June 8, 2013

Our bodies cannot function without the mineral magnesium, and that includes the proper working of neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain.

Research indicates that magnesium  is required for our nervous system to relax from the effects of fear and  anxiety.

Magnesium also supports the brain mechanisms that control and store memories. Having enough magnesium available in our bodies helps prevent cognitive deterioration and enhances brain plasticity, our ability to adapt and generate new cells.

Anyone who has an anxiety disorder would be wise to get an adequate intake of magnesium. It may help some individuals manage anxiety without prescription medications, and others who are on medication may require less. Plus, more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies rely on the presence of magnesium, some of them essential to cardiovascular health.

Our Pliable Brain on Magnesium

We know that chronic anxiety and fear can create habitual brain responses that interfere with a person’s enjoyment of life and his or her willingness to take on new experiences or risk challenges.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin discovered:

  1. Increasing magnesium in the brain can help undo habitual neuronal patterns (brain-wiring) that develop from chronic fear and anxiety. The magnesium allows for more synaptic plasticity (flexibility) so that fear patterns can be changed.
  2. Having elevated magnesium increases the body’s manufacture of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a compound the brain uses to rejuvenate at the cellular level.
  3. Magnesium is used by the body to make a compound called ATP which supplies our cells, including brain cells, with energy to perform their cellular duties. It is possible that having low energy in the brain makes us susceptible to degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Getting Nutty About Magnesium

Although many people take a magnesium supplement, about 300 to 500 mg daily, to make sure they have enough of this mineral, it is not difficult to get plenty of magnesium through the food we eat.

One of the most delicious ways to magnesium-up is keeping a supply of nuts on hand for snacking. Almonds, cashews, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans and filberts are all good sources of magnesium plus other nutrient goodies. Seeds such as sesame, pumpkin and sunflower are good sources of magnesium as well.

Finish reading HERE

The Lessons and Liabilities of Loneliness

May 26, 2013

Most of us, when we speak of loneliness or of being lonely, are talking about a feeling. It is a feeling described as emptiness tinged with longing, sadness or grief.

We may feel cutoff from others, bleak, desolate or desperate whether in a room by ourself, in company with significant others, or at a crowded party.

Loneliness comes from a real or perceived need for belonging that is not being met. It is also, for some individuals, the experience of sensing the disconnection among those around them.

Feeling lonely is not the same as being by one's self. People can be solitary and satisfied or solitary and lonely.

Three Life Lessons of Loneliness

Loneliness, though uncomfortable, is a valuable teacher.

  1. Experiencing loneliness is not unusual, and knowing the feeling helps us to live with compassion for others. When our own need for human connection is not met, we understand its importance for all people. Our awareness of the human condition inspires us to improve it.
  2. Our emotions and feelings give us helpful information about ourselves. If we feel lonely, the message may be to get busy and meet new people. This can involve the discomfort of changing our usual behavior habits, the need to learn better communication skills, and the necessity of dealing with mental or emotional pain that prevents us from opening up to others.
  3. Inside loneliness is an invitation to become more acquainted with our self. The presence of others can never substitute for the strength of being comforted and happy in our own company. It makes us emotionally more self-reliant and better able to enjoy healthy relationships with others.

The Liabilities of Loneliness

Behavior Risks

Despite being a teacher, loneliness is also a feeling people dread. Most of the time we just want it to stop. According to psychologist John T. Cacioppo, University of Chicago, loneliness undermines our ability to self-regulate.

Not being able to self-regulate means we might choose unhealthy ways of stimulating the pleasure center in our brain, such as eating a bag of chips or cookies, using addictive substances, or spending hours playing video games. Loneliness is temporarily relieved by these activities, but undesirable consequences are generated.

Health Risks

Prolonged loneliness can lead to depression and has other serious health implications as well, evidenced by research done at the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Researchers there discovered that lonely people produce more inflammation-related proteins in reaction to stress than individuals who are more happily connected with others:

These proteins signal the presence of inflammation, and chronic inflammation is linked to numerous conditions, including coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging.

Managing Loneliness

Clearly, feeling lonely is not something that should be allowed to continue unabated. The mental and physical health consequences are too disturbing.

  1. If you know that you need more connection with people and continuously struggle to make it happen, seek help. Individual or group counseling may be a necessary step toward more abundant and satisfying relationships. Many people reach adulthood lacking the skills to create and keep meaningful connections, and the good news is that anyone can learn them.
  2. Loneliness is often accompanied by low self-esteem and feelings of guilt, as if the loneliness is your fault. Remember, loneliness is a feeling and feelings, even uncomfortable ones, are not a punishment. They give you important feedback about your situation so that you can make adjustments if you wish.
  3. Any feeling you fight against becomes stronger. The way to disarm a feeling is to feel it. When emotions and feelings are allowed and accepted they are free to move and morph. Their intensity can fluctuate. Like the tides, they flow in and out. Also, while experiencing your loneliness, consider what lesson (if any) it may hold for you.

    Finish reading HERE

 

What the Body Needs To Produce Serotonin

May 15, 2013

Our physical, mental, emotional, and chemical well being are interrelated.

We can study these aspects of health separately and address problems in these areas separately, but whatever affects one area touches all the others, for good or ill.

Something that has an immediate impact on each aspect of health is our dietary choices.

This is why a nutrient rich diet is the most common sense and scientific first line of treatment for all our ills, including depression. A simple explanation of how the body manufactures serotonin illustrates this.  

What the Body Requires to Produce Serotonin

Although much remains a mystery, we know that a state of mental health requires an adequate supply of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. 

  • The body must have protein to manufacture serotonin (and other neurotransmitters).
  • To digest protein, we need to have adequate stomach acid.
  • To produce stomach acid, we need to ingest proper amounts of zinc, B1 and B6.
  • Stomach acid breaks down proteins into the amino acid tryptophan.
  • To break down tryptophan into 5-hydroxytryptophan, the body must have a ready supply of folate, calcium, iron, and B3. 
  • To morph 5-hydroxytryptophan into serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) the vitamins and minerals B6, zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin C are required.

So, without zinc, our stomach acid is inadequate to break down protein. The amino acid tryptophan cannot be transformed without folate or calcium. Without the presence of all vitamins and minerals required, no serotonin can be made.

This is not to imply that lack of adequate nutrition is the cause of everyone’s depression. It may be why some people are depressed, but for many people diet is one of several possible factors in their diagnosis.

Keep It Simple

Eating well when you are depressed is not easy. You may not be hungry or might not have the energy to grocery shop or prepare food already in the cupboard. People who feel worthless or hopeless may not care whether they eat well enough.

Do your best, and ask others to help you shop or prepare food if you need to. You can eat simply and still get the nutrients you need . . .

Continue reading HERE

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