When I started to write this issue of the Newsletter, we had just witnessed the recent horrific loss of life and injuries in Buffalo. Then, we experienced the shooting of children and adults in Uvalde. This was on top of the Russia-Ukraine War and the effects of other wars, insurrections, terrorism, and national and international political events.
The news of these negative events jolted my physiology. I experienced emotions of sorrow, anger, and fear often at the same time.
I realize that exposure to violence has become a daily occurrence in our lives, in addition to the everyday personal stressors that we deal with. I am concerned about the health effects of these toxic events on myself, my family, friends, my patients, you, and the people of the world.
Thinking about this led me to ask these two questions:
1. How do we METABOLIZE the effects of these stressors on our minds, bodies, and spirits so that we don’t get sick?
2. How does one CULTIVATE a Calm Mind in the face of massive distress and uncertainty?
To answer these questions I believe we need to first focus on our own health and well-being.
To help you do this, I recommend going back to basics and accessing the Don’t Mess with Stress™ framework described in my book, and summarized below. As I have stated in prior Newsletters, this Don’t Mess with Stress™ foundation helps us create physical, mental, and emotional strength and resilience, which lead to centeredness and calmness.
Check Out these Don’t Mess with Stress™ “Core 4” Components:
1. Diet: Have an anti-inflammatory, Mediterranean Diet—mostly plants, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, fatty fish, small amounts of lean meat/poultry—ideally organic, wild, pasture-raised, non-GMO. Have a little sweet occasionally without guilt. This type of diet makes you have better bacteria in your microbiome, which can also positively influence your brain, nervous system, and your immune function. Make sure your Vitamin D 25 hydroxy blood levels are normal. (greater than 30ng/ml). It is suggested to take Vitamin D3 1,000IU to 2,000IU per day with food that has good fat for better absorption. (1) You may need more Vitamin D3 if you are deficient and if you are fighting Covid-19.
2. Meditate: Have some sort of daily Meditation and/or yoga, or T’ai Chi, or Qi Gong practice. It really helps to calm the nervous down and has so many benefits including maintaining the integrity of your gut microbiome. (2)
3. Walk, Move, Dance, Exercise: You will feel so much better—your joints may not hurt as much, your skin might look better, your mood and stress levels can improve, and you may sleep better.3 And sense of well-being and calm. (4)
4. Sleep: Quality Sleep—7-9 hours per night, bedtime before midnight, and ideally earlier; if you can, no screens one hour before bed to wind down and then get into bed. Sleep helps everything in our minds and bodies function better. (5)
Next, we have to manage our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to minimize the effects of stress on our minds and bodies. It’s not easy when we are faced with these untoward world and personal events.
Here are Some Recommendations for Managing our Minds:
1. Choose Our Attitude–Cultivate a Positive Mindset
2. Find Meaning in Our lives–“He who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW.” (6) Viktor Frankl, MD, Holocaust Survivor
3. Focus on Helping Others–what is called “Prosociality”–“acting kindly, cooperatively, and with compassion toward others”–the more “prosocial” you are, the better your well-being. (7)
According to Stanford psychologist, Emma Seppälä, ‘Calmness requires less energy.’ Your heart doesn’t beat faster than it should, your breathing remains regular and your body is at ease as a result, Seppälä notes. Her research has found that by cultivating this sense of calm, you will feel less stress, have a clearer mind and have more focus…” (8)
“Here are a few science-backed ways Seppälä says you can restore your mental energy and continue to remain calm:
1. Do something that makes you feel positive
2. Turn what you’re doing into something you want to be doing
3. Remember the big picture
4. Practice gratitude
5. Detach from work when you’re not working” (8)
During these times, employers and employees are dealing with high stress levels not only from the world but from work issues. Dr. Jill was just interviewed about Employee Mental Health on the “Biz Souls” Podcast about Employee Mental Health. Please listen to learn some tools and tips about this important topic from Dr. Jill!
Living in today’s society can be challenging when we are confronted with so much inhumanity and stress.
Taking control of your health and your mind is a powerful start to a life of purpose, meaning, and joy.
I hope that the above suggestions can empower you to do this.
Have a wonderful rest of the summer!
Dr. Jill Baron
Make an appointment with Dr. Jill Baron for a Comprehensive Integrative and Functional Medicine evaluation! Call Kristine at 646-472-5043 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
Please feel free to read my past Newsletters on my blog Dr. Jill Baron Newsletters and Blog which has helpful tips for you to feel good and optimize your health.
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(1)Sara R Zwart, Scott M Smith, Vitamin D and COVID-19: Lessons from Spaceflight Analogs, The Journal of Nutrition, , nxaa233, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa233
(2)Househam AM, Peterson CT, Mills PJ, Chopra D. The Effects of Stress and Meditation on the Immune System, Human Microbiota, and Epigenetics. Adv Mind Body Med. 2017;31(4):10-25.
(3)Stubbs B, Vancampfort D, Rosenbaum S, et al. An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res. 2017;249:102-108. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2016.12.020
(4) Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 23;4:27. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027. PMID: 23630504; PMCID: PMC3632802.
(5)Buysse DJ. Sleep health: can we define it? Does it matter?. Sleep. 2014;37(1):9-17. Published 2014 Jan 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.3298
(6))https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDHFzmkmybk; Man’s Search For Meaning: Powerful Interview with Viktor Frankl’s Grandson
(7) Hui BPH, Ng JCK, Berzaghi E, Cunningham-Amos LA, Kogan A. Rewards of kindness? A meta-analysis of the link between prosociality and well-being. Psychol Bull. 2020 Dec;146(12):1084-1116. doi: 10.1037/bul0000298. Epub 2020 Sep 3. PMID: 32881540.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content on this Newsletter does not constitute medical advice. Please consult with a physician before making any medical, nutritional, or lifestyle changes recommended in this Newsletter.