If you’re based in Victoria, you’re likely still in tight lockdown restrictions like me. Everyone's experiences are so different during these unprecedented times. Some people are loving the current circumstance, while others are doing it really tough!
I am going to give you what I believe are the 4 biggest health tips to get you through COVID-19 lockdown. But first, let's understand why you are feeling the way that you do.
I want to briefly explain to you what may be happening to you from a biological level. So just like when you lose a loved one or a friend we can go through stages of grief that include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, we haven’t necessarily lost a loved one or a friend, we’ve lost our normal everyday lives and this can lead to many of the stages associated with grieving.
Maybe you used to catch up with your friend for coffee or goto the gym, or perhaps you even went dancing! When you participate in these activities we get an array of different neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) firing that help us feel good that include serotonin (happy chemical ), dopamine (rewarding chemical), endorphins (euphoric chemical) and oxytocin (love and human touch chemical).
When we don’t get to participate in these activities that can regulate our mood, we can sometimes replace them for bad habits that include alcohol use, binge eating and the overuse of technology (eg. smartphones). This is because these bad habits can also increase the production of our brain chemicals, however they are typically only temporary and can result in addiction and negative health outcomes. Luckily, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to boost our brain chemistry naturally!
How do I increase the production of brain chemicals naturally?
There are 4 simple ways to support the healthy production of brain chemicals naturally that include exercise, diet, sleep and mindfulness.
1. Let's start with exercise!
When you exercise your brain releases a bunch of chemicals that help us to feel good (most notably endorphins). I understand that motivating yourself to exercise considering the current circumstances can be difficult, but just remember that you never regret exercise once it’s done and it can help to improve your focus, mood, support weight management, regulate blood sugar levels, strengthen your bones and muscles and improve sleep quality!
2. But what about the diet?
One major aspect of our health that is often overlooked is our diet! A balanced diet is essential to make sure we are refuelling our body and providing the necessary nutrients that support our mood and energy levels.
First and foremost, protein is required for growth and recovery, however it also contains these chemicals called amino acids (building blocks of protein) that are required for the production of our neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that help to regulate our mood. Aim for a good quality source of protein with every meal. Consuming our hemp seed protein powder is an easy way to increase your protein intake daily.
Essential fatty acids, or you may know them as omega 3 or omega 6 fatty acids are required for brain health, but are also essential for regulating inflammation and supporting a healthy cardiovascular system, immune system and the hormonal (endocrine) system in the body. Eat oily fish (salmon or tuna) twice a week, alternatively you can try our hemp seed oil that is a great plant-based source of essential fatty acids. Alternatively, if your diet doesn't agree with eating oily fish, our Hemp Seed Oil capsules are a great plant based alternative for increasing your daily intake of essential fatty acids. Taking 3 per day may allow you to reap the benefits that traditional fish oil has offered, while staying true to your dietary needs!
B vitamins, magnesium and zinc are nutrients that are also required in adequate amounts to support brain health through the production of brain chemicals. Increase your intake of green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds or try our hemp hearts that are rich in these micronutrients.
3. Sleep, sleep, sleep!
The importance of sleep is not stressed enough! A good night's rest can help better manage our stress, improve memory, lower blood pressure, aid recovery, maintain weight, improve mood, reduce inflammation, and increase longevity. The best way to know if you are getting enough sleep is if you feel refreshed in the mornings.
4. Mastering your Mindfulness
Mindfulness is maintaining moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. So why is this important? Because when we practice mindfulness it helps us to focus on the present moment, not the past or the future that can sometimes cause feelings of stress or anxiety. Scientific studies have demonstrated that practicing various types of meditation can lower our stress hormone levels that can help to improve our lives in every aspect.
So what’s the take home?
There are going to be some days when you're not in the mood or unmotivated, and that’s ok! Right now you’re going through a global pandemic and are in very unusual circumstances. However, if you practice our 4 simple health tips this can help you to get through this difficult time.
This post is based on general knowledge and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. You should always speak to your GP or physician to see if the information on this page is right for you.