I happened to catch the end of a BBC programme called ‘The Truth About’ hosted by Professor Tanya Byron. The programme was looking at ways of improving your mental health. In this particular episode, they were looking at the effectiveness of probiotics on anxiety levels. Those who took probiotics (and it was only a very small sample group), showed a 50% reduction in the symptoms of anxiety and also a significant reduction in the level of the stress hormone, cortisol.
There is a new field of research called psychobiotics and what it is revealing is that foods we know are associated with good gut health, might also show significant benefits for our mental health. Speaking to Finn Murray from The Hopsack health food shop in Rathmines, he said “Specific probiotic strains have been identified as exerting a powerful influence on our mood, and studies demonstrate that anywhere up to 95% of the serotonin (our predominant happy-making neurotransmitter) in the body is produced in the gut.”
Apart from food, the other big thing that we consume is what we take into our minds either by reading or watching, on our phones, TV or other media. There have been so many significant news stories going on that there is a lot that we can get distracted by. When you think about the last four years or so, we have had Brexit, followed by the election of Donald Trump and now Covid. No doubt there will be something else after this. It is of course good to be informed about what is going on in the world but do you really need to be aware of every single update and every piece of news?
When I was in the throes of chronic fatigue many years ago, and of course, it was the olden days – long before social media and the internet had taken off – I really had to guard my energy, and how things made me feel. Jerry Springer had just come on the scene, and I remember watching a couple of episodes on tv and the only way I can describe the effect it had on me was that I felt dirty. It really didn’t make me feel good. So I stopped watching.
Also, I had always enjoyed reading but I found that I had a very low tolerance for anything that was too gritty. It was actually Maeve Binchy who got me through. I devoured all of her books. You always knew who the baddies were (boo! and who can forget Alan Cumming’s portrayal of Sean Walsh in the movie Circle of Friends), and who the goodies were. And the great thing about her books was that the goodies always came out on top in the end.
In these times of uncertainty, and we are all under stress, we need to be aware of what we are reading, watching and consuming, whether it be on TV, Facebook, WhatsApp groups etc, and really tune into how it makes us feel. Deepak Chopra says, “What you pay attention to grows. If your attention is attracted to negative situations and emotions, then they will grow in your awareness.” And of course, Google and Facebook are working in the background as well. If you click on a certain type of story, stories of that type will keep appearing in your feed.
Whether it is something you are reading, watching on TV, your phone or other media, ask yourself the question, ‘does this make me feel better or worse?’, and then decide what you want to do about it. Or if you are feeling low, maybe examine what you have been paying attention to. I’m always a sucker for a good cat video which Facebook has recognised, so they now show up aplenty in my feed! What’s not to like!
Tapping To Release Stress:
One of the tell-tale signs for me when I am stressed is that my breath goes. What I mean by that is I get a bit ‘breathy’ and am not taking full deep breaths. When I feel like this, I do some tapping. I discovered tapping (or to use its proper name Emotional Freedom Techniques) about 12 years ago, and it is a system where you tap on specific acupuncture points around the body as a way of releasing stress and anxiety. It is used in certain parts of the NHS in the UK for treating anxiety and is has been approved as a treatment for PTSD by the US Military.
When we tap on these points around the body, it sends a calming signal to the ‘stress’ part of the brain that things are ok and switches off the production of the stress hormone cortisol. You can even use it on cravings. Using the chart shown above, tap on the points illustrated saying phrases like, ‘I can’t take a full breath’ or ‘my breath is constricted’. Do this for a couple of rounds and notice how your breathing improves. I will be showing you how to use this technique at our Positively The Gloss online event on Thursday March 11, details below.
Come join me for the Positively The Gloss online event taking place on Thursday March 11. At this event, I will be sharing some tools and techniques I use to help release stress to get you through these challenging times. Book your ticket now through the GLOSS SHOP.
Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.