The Emotional Immune System

Just like the physical immune system that works hard to protect you from disease and illness, your mental immune system also requires the right nourishment and support to prevent common psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Self employed and working in an unpredictable industry that requires risks and putting yourself out there with a big side of responsibility, I know it is easy to become overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and riddled with self doubt. However, ironically, my job is to help and encourage others to overcome such problems whilst being a walking, talking advocate, practicing what I preach everyday. No pressure hey?!

I would like to make one thing very clear at this point; I am rubbish at yoga, I love to drink wine and I’m naturally quite a disorganised person to the point that once i was so rushed i ran out of the house without a top…seriously…just a bra. Luckily, I realised before I reached the town and managed to cover up before being arrested. I am not perfect. I don’t live a clean eating, meditative, alcohol free life and i sure as hell can not stand on my head! (Nor do i want to, life makes me dizzy enough without turning myself upside down no matter how instagram cool it is). However, I do promote a realistic way of maintaining energy, balance and wellbeing in this current modern society.

A few glasses of wine with friends is as important for this as eating enough greens and getting enough sleep!

With demands from family, work, relationships and everything else in life people are relying more and more on pharmaceuticals, quick fixes and addictions to deal with life’s stressors.

I’ve seen people work, work, work, drink too much, addicted to sugar,  surviving on coffee and claiming ‘they don’t need sleep’ and ‘don’t have time to exercise’. They become an anxious, angry mess unable to cope with the slightest obstacle in their path to the ‘perfect life’.

The gut and the brain are so intrinsically linked and therefore so are your physical and mental states. If you wont look after yourself, emotionally as well as physically you will cause disease in various forms and even effect the DNA of the children you bare in the future. You need to act now. Loving yourself is actually a pretty badass thing to do, and you will see it reflected back at you in the changes that will happen to your world.  Time and attention to look after yourself has the most influential effect on your life than anything else you can imagine.

So here are some tips I’ve learnt from my own experiences, education, research and travels, in how to build a strong emotional immune system and transform your reality

Nourish

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Your mood is a reflection of your perception of the world (your reality). How you process this information depends on your neurotransmitters in the brain. Without going  too deep into the science you need GABA, Serotonin and Endorphins to reduce pain and stress within your body. Adding chemicals, toxins and preservatives into the mix will unbalance your hormones and reap havoc on your mental state. So cutting out processed foods, refined sugars and junk will make a big difference to how you feel although with some tough cravings and withdrawal symptoms to begin with.

All nutrients are key in optimum health, however, B vitamins, Omegas, Vitamin C and magnesium are particularly important for your mental state.

Try and include the following foods on your shopping list:

  • Nuts, especially walnuts
  • Seeds
  • Yoghurt with live cultures
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Oily fish
  • Turkey
  • Beans
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Organic free range eggs
  • Red pepper
  • Chillies
  • Berries
  • Kale and dark leafy greens

Be proactive!

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For me waking up early means I can walk the dog, answer emails, do a couple of hours work and exercise all before 10m. This takes any stress off the rest of the day as well as helping me think clearer, eat healthier and stay motivated. It also means I’m satisfied and ready to relax by the evening.

Writing lists is also a must for me as quite a naturally distracted and sometimes disorganised person I need to impose some sort of structure. Every morning after Ive taken the dog for a walk, I write a list of everything that needs to be done that day so I can stay focused and avoid distraction.

Working towards your goals, if only a little, everyday, keeps you on track and less likely to feel over whelmed or get stressed

Plan, makes lists, set goals and create a little routine to each day

Stay inspired

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Without this we stay stagnant and non moving. To be inspired is to have the desire to grow and change. Life without inspiration would be so dull. It keeps you positive and proactive and distracts you from negative emotions. There is nothing more attractive than someone who is inspired. They come alive and overwhelmed with excitement and determination.

Read books on your passion, follow like minded people on social media, do something towards your goal everyday. Go to seminars, watch TED talks and connect with people that inspire you. Live, breathe and dream it- It’s sexy!

Exercise

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No excuses here! I use the 20 minute rule. Commit to just 20 minutes of exercise everyday and your more likely to not only actually do it, but your more likely to do more. Because 20 minutes isn’t a scary of unrealistic goal you more likely to do without excuses of stress. Once your doing it, your even more likely to want to do more once those endorphins start kicking in.

I vary my workouts throughout the week, although running is my favourite I also do strengthening workouts I make up from what I’ve seen on instagram and youtube. Having a dog thats half collie means I have to walk at least three times a day no matter what.

Try the 20 minute rule for 4 days and see how you feel!

Switch off

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I find that running my own business makes it even harder to switch off because all responsibility is on me, I know parents find it even harder and people with demanding jobs or just generally being a human in 2017 means its VERY hard to switch off. Mainly because theres so much switched on! Social media, demanding jobs, family, media, the world and its problems… its stressful!

Sometimes putting yourself in a completey different environment can help so your not tempted to clean the house or carry on working. Booking a trip, going out to lunch or for a picnic, a walk, anything that takes you away from social media and business and forces you to switch off is great.

As I have a business with my partner this is crucial to our relationship so we don’t just become business partners. We book meals, trips and sometimes just go and sleep on the beach for the night to completely escape and reconnect again. Its easier to lose yourself in the world now than it ever was so do what ever it takes to reconnect with yourself and those around you on a daily basis and more.

Cut yourself off from all social media for the hour before bed (at least!) and for the hour you wake up. Do you find it really hard? The all the more reason to switch off!

Play, play, play

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“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” – George Bernard Shaw

What is the point in life otherwise? I love doing random things, taking a boat down the river and stopping off at the pubs along the way, sleeping on the beach, dancing, road trips, spontaneous camping, the list goes on. My life is full of random memories that have all changed my life either by introducing me to life long friends, relationships, career opportunities or just exciting stories. Whatever it is you love to do, DO IT! Whether its something small like drinks and dancing on a Friday night or something bigger like a massive career change or once in a life time trip, always make sure that enjoyment, pleasure and fun are a MASSIVE part of your life and don’t underestimate booking it in!

Think of something you’ve been ‘meaning’ to do for ages; go to that place of dinner, go for drinks with that friend, go on that trip…and just book it! If money is an issue then book time in with someone you love to be around and plan something that won’t set you back

 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

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Don’t ever forget that this little life is just that, little! Did you know there are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on the planet earth?! I love that fact because it makes me realise how small and insignificant me and my little worries are. I find it freeing and realise how damn lucky I am just to have a brain and be walking around this  world – might as well have a good time and be happy!

Sometimes I fall without my partner over the washing up, other times I’m inconsolable about the state of the world. Both are equally a waste of energy. The only thing you have control over in this life is you. 

Simplify

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Life is complicated enough. Ensure you spend time with people you like, people you love and most of all people that make you feel good! Sometimes I meet people that I know are nice, come across as very moralistic and interesting but for some reason I just don’t feel good when I think about them or after I’ve left them. Whether its subtle manipulation or out right rudeness and hostility cut that out of your life

When I think of when I’m most happy and at peace its not actually the fancy places or big events that spring to mind. Its travelling in a clapped out old camper van on a rainy day after no sleep, nursing a cup of hot coffee and watching the world go by. Or a night spent drinking too much wine and waking up aching from the dancing and the laughter. Sometimes its just a day by myself cooking and walking the dog.

Don’t waste energy over analysing (we are all guilty)

Avoid drama

Don’t label yourself or define yourself by your ‘style’, what you eat, or any other form of label – all you’re doing is limiting yourself

Stop caring what other people think – their thoughts and opinions are ONLY a reflection of themselves and their reality

Do the small things you love as often as you can; making coffee, baking, drawing, running, music, sport

Be honest, don’t just say yes to please someone else (one I have to constantly work on) it only leaves you resentful and in authentic which causes further emotional problems

Eat simple whole foods. Avoid getting caught up in fads, fashions and diets

Do less and do it well

Let it go

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You sang that didn’t you? 😉

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

I had to finish with this one, not only for obvious reasons but probably because its the hardest. Don’t waste time on things you can not change, don’t worry about that which you can control. Don’t focus on the things that make you angry or sad but be proactive in that which you can positively influence. For example; don’t talk down or be hateful about those who you quite rightly feel those feelings for. Just cut them out and do what you can to feel better about the situation. Don’t waste one more second on something that is done.

Good or bad – nothing lasts forever.

 

 

 

 

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