When reading the title of this article, Calm Your Mind – Boost Your Health, what thoughts automatically come into your mind? Maybe thoughts such as: “Psychological mumbo-jumbo”, “Whatever”, “Oh, sure, now THAT sounds easy…not”. I completely understand those thoughts because I thought the same things when introduced to this concept in 2001 while healing from stage 3 colon cancer.
More and more research now connects the thoughts and emotions of the mind to the health of the body. But it’s really nothing new. Even historical wise men were aware of this important connection. In the book of Proverbs, King David said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.( Proverbs. 17:22)
It’s mind-boggling that today, with all our conveniences, most people live under constant stress and negative mind-chatter. Unfortunately, instead of offering suggestions about how to control and deal with stress over-load and negativity, most doctors are quick to write a prescription for anti-depressant drugs like Prozac. This is so unfortunate, because from a natural medicine standpoint, there are better answers.
DID YOU KNOW?
Chronic stress causes inflammation in the body. 95 percent of all illness is caused or worsened by stress.
11 Tips to Calm Your Mind & Boost Your Health
The best way to calm your mind is to learn how to reduce stress levels. I’ll be the first to admit that learning to calm the mind is not always easy. When trying to replace an old habit of thinking with a new one, we often find it very easy to revert back to habits in which we are more comfortable. Most professionals tell us that it takes at least 21 days to change a habit. So patience and persistence pays off. Be kind to the process and gives the tips below some time to work.
1. The cells in your body react to everything that your mind says. Negativity brings down your immune system.
When those negative thoughts or negative mind-chatter begin to creep in, replace them immediately with something positive. Say these sentences either out loud or in your mind like: “Today is a good day because I get to…” “I’m so thankful for…” “I really like the beauty of…” “Even though I didn’t handle (insert situation) well, I still love and accept myself and will do better next time.” You get the picture. Practice makes perfect or close to it, so the more you practice replacing negative or harmful thoughts, the more natural it will become and soon it will happen automatically.
2. Work on the physical causes of stress.
You can do this by choosing to eat a healthy diet and by eliminating the common mood-swinging-foods such as caffeine, sugar, alcohol and nicotine. Eliminate fast foods and junk foods. They lack nutritional benefits and are full of chemicals. Check to see if you have a magnesium deficiency or a B-12 deficiency – which, by the way, both are very common deficiencies. Serotonin, which relaxes the nervous system and elevates mood, is dependent on Magnesium. Studies from the U.S. Framingham trial indicate that one in four adults are deficient in vitamin B-12, and nearly half the population has sub-optimal blood levels.
3. Work on Your Gut.
There is also a distinct physical connection between your brain and the condition of your digestive tract. In fact, the digestive tract is now called the “second brain.” Studies in animals suggest disrupting gut bacteria may have an effect on the brain, and in turn, behavior. Mice given antibiotics also showed changes in their brain chemistry that link to depression. Animal studies also suggest that healthy gut flora can affect levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The study also found that people who took the prebiotics had lower levels of cortisol in their saliva when they woke up in the morning, compared with people who took a placebo. In my opinion, the many health benefits of probiotics for brain/mind health cannot be stressed enough.
Using an intestinal oxygen-based cleanser to support your colon health as well as a herbal liver support is always a good idea to keep your digestive tract functioning in an optimal manner. Gluten intolerance can also have an effect on your mind, so check your diet. Take a high-quality multi-vitamin mineral complex every day as well as a good B-Complex vitamin. Be conscious of the foods that you are putting inside your body and nourish your body with real food.
4. Essential Fatty Acids.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a huge role at the cellular level throughout the body. They can help to support a healthy nervous system enabling you to weather the effects of stress by making it easier to control negative emotions such as anger, fear, worry, jealousy, hate, guilt, victim mentality and irritability.
5. Daily Exercise.
Exercise such as a 30-45 minute daily walk will do wonders for your stress levels and can help calm your mind. Breathing in fresh air and allowing as much sunlight on your skin as possibly will not only help you feel better and calm your mind, it will also support your body in the production of Vitamin D-3. Anxiety and depression is linked to low vitamin D-3 levels.
6. Organic or Wild-Crafted Herbs.
Herbs can often be used successfully to reduce stress and calm mind-chatter. Ashwagandha, St John’s Wort, Valerian, SAMe, Chamomile, Ginger, Borage, Milk Thistle, and Nettle can help you to calm your mind as well as manage stress levels in a natural way. Be careful with herbs if you are on any prescription medications. Check with your pharmacist or doctor about contraindications.
In my opinion, aromatherapy is one of easiest health modalities you can use to help calm your mind. The scents of plant and flower oils can actually relieve the tension and the anxious feelings that are often associated with stress. Oils to try include lavender, chamomile, geranium, rose, neroli, sweet marjoram, and ylang-ylang. Using an aromatherapy diffuser can actually bring some calm to an otherwise busy and hectic home or office.
8. EFT Tapping.
EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, is a type of Meridian Tapping using ancient Chinese acupressure points. Tapping has been proven to work effectively for pain relief, healing childhood traumas, clearing limiting financial beliefs, weight loss, body image and food cravings, fears and phobias. Tapping can also with you to calm your mind. Tapping is proving to be a powerful, well-researched and easy to learn technique. Tapping utilizes the body’s energy meridian points by stimulating them with your fingertips – literally tapping into your body’s own energy and healing power.
9. Restful Sleep.
Sleep is the time when your body and mind does the most healing and repair work. Going to bed by a certain time every night (including weekends) is one of the best things you can do to eliminate stress. At first you may find being militant about your bedtime is necessary, especially since your mind will give you many reasons to stay up. Turn down the lights about 30 minutes before bedtime, take a relaxing bath and then go to bed. If you have trouble sleeping try using magnesium oil on your body or reading a boring book.
10. Learn to say NO.
It’s not healthy or even feasible for you to attend and/or assist with every event, project, and activity that crosses your path. If your stress levels are already high, reduce your activity schedule as much as possible, or better yet, take a break as you are able. Learning to politely but firmly say “no” can also be beneficial.
11. Don’t isolate yourself.
Being around positive people will help you become more positive. It does takes willingness to remove negative people from your life and is not always easy. Remember that it doesn’t have remain a forever thing, but I would suggest that how much time you spend with negative people be limited. Learn a new hobby, take a college continuing-education course, plant a vegetable garden, get a pet, enjoy a once-a-week night out with friends or spouse, get a weekly or monthly massage, treat yourself to a specific spa treatment such as reflexology, join a local church group, volunteer time at your local women’s shelter or school, learn a sport, etc. The main idea is to enjoy being around positive activities that help up-lift your spirit.
BONUS: Stay Hydrated!
Another healthy way to calm your mind is by keeping your body hydrated. Yep, it’s that easy, especially if you stay dehydrated most of the time. The correlation between water and stress reduction is well documented. Every organ in your body, including your heart and your brain, requires water to function properly. When we don’t get enough water, we can become dehydrated very quickly which can cause stress vice-versa. This can easily become a vicious cycle. The good news is that it is easly broken simply by drinking more water during the day.
About 75 percent of people in the USA do not drink enough purified water. On average, a person will lose two to three liters of water per day in standard conditions and more in hot or dry weather. Most health practitioners recommend drinking two to three liters (at least eight full glasses) of purified water every day. By the way, please make sure you drink purified water only.
RELATED: 22 Health Benefits of Clean Water
“Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” says Amanda Carlson, RD, director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, a trainer of world-class athletes.“Cortisol is one of those stress hormones. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.”
Remember to “drink up!”
Calming a negative mind-set is not an easy task; however, it is easily done when mindfully practiced. When you purposefully calm your mind, your health and well-being will soar. Many people report they no longer catch every illness or “bug” that’s going around. Another frequent comment I hear is that procrastination seems to disappear.
Perhaps the best way to help calm your mind is desire and the realization that it’s important to work on your thoughts every day. A time of daily meditation can certainly help in this area. Not only will your mind begin to calm itself, you will also be on the right track for helping your body to support good health and wellness. Keep your eye on the prize!
Research and References
Krantz, D.S., Whittaker, K.S. & Sheps, D.S. (2011). “Psychosocial risk factors for coronary artery disease: Pathophysiologic mechanisms.” In Heart and Mind: Evolution of Cardiac Psychology . Washington, DC: APA.
Kiecolt-Glaser, J. & Glaser, R. Thorn, B.E., Pence, L.B., et al. (2007). “A randomized clinical trial of targeted cognitive behavioral treatment to reduce catastrophizing in chronic headache sufferers.” Journal of Pain 8 , 938-949.
Krantz, D.S. & McCeney, M.K. (2002). “Effects of psychological and social factors on organic disease: A critical assessment of research on coronary heart disease.” Annual Review of Psychology, 53 , 341-369.
Denollet, J., et al. (2010). “A general propensity to psychological distress affects cardiovascular outcomes: Evidence from research on the type D (distressed) personality profile.” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 3, 546-557.
Davidson, K.W., Mostofsky, E. & Whang, W. (2010). “Don’t worry, by happy: Positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: The Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey.” European Heart Journal, 31 , 1065-1070.
Watson, David; Pennebaker, James W. Health complaints, stress, and distress: Exploring the central role of negative affectivity. Psychological Review, Vol 96(2), Apr 1989, 234-254.
Cady RK, Farmer K, Dexter JK, Hall J. The bowel and migraine: update on celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2012 Jun;16(3):278-86. doi: 10.1007/s11916-012-0258-y.
Lara DR. Caffeine, mental health, and psychiatric disorders. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S239-48. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-1378.