Colorful letters on a white background, spelling out 'good food good mood' with fruit slices as the 'o's

How Food Can Impact Emotions and Mood

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We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, but how does what we eat really impact our daily emotions and moods?

According to Eva Selhub MD over at Harvard Health, about 95% of serotonin is produced in our gut. Remember serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps in regulation of sleep, appetite, moods, and even pain.

So it’s no wonder the foods we eat that travel through our gut have a big role in our emotions. Our serotonin is highly influenced by the amount of ‘good’ bacteria versus ‘bad’ bacteria. The ‘good’ bacteria helps to line our stomachs, break down and digest our food, and work to keep the ‘bad’ bacteria from entering our systems.

There are studies that show areas like Japan and the Mediterranean, where people primarily eat fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, and unprocessed grains have lower rates of depression and anxiety.

When your gut is overwhelmed by bad bacteria, it can lead to inflammation and low energy. All of these things will influence your mood and emotions.

What are some tips to start eating better for better moods?

  1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
  2. Take the time to meal prep for the week, so you aren’t tempted to pick up take out on your way home when you’re tired from work
  3. Drink water and herbal teas through out the day
  4. Eat slowly and mindfully so your body is able to digest your food properly
  5. Keep a food log for a few weeks to record how your mood or emotions change based on what you’ve eaten.
Big block numbers, with a woman as the number one in 2019 in front of a sunset.

Resolutions for Mental Health in 2019

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We are a week into January, and I bet you have already made some pretty great resolutions for this year. But have you thought about what great resolutions can do for your mental health?

As a society we tend to focus on resolutions that change something about ourselves. But what about focusing on ways to enhance, or strengthen our mental health?

Over on Mental Health First Aid, they have a great article about how to do just this:

  1. Practice Self Acceptance

  2. Become a Social Butterfly

  3. Work on your Exercise

  4. Become a Sleeping Beauty

  5. Put Yourself First

Practice Self Acceptance:

This can be such a helpful tool in strengthening your mental health. We often focus on the negative about ourselves, and are constantly trying to change something. But what if this year, we focused on loving ourselves for exactly the person we are? What if we accepted our bodies, our circumstances, our lives and thrived on being truly grateful for what we have?

Become a Social Butterly:

Life can get busy, and before you know it it’s been weeks or months before you’ve gone out and done anything socially. When we build and cultivate relationships and friendships, we tend to be happier and more satisfied. This year, try getting out more. Commit to one night out a month to start, with friends or your spouse. Try something new, and step outside your comfort zone and make new friends.

Work on your Exercise:

There are plenty of studies out there that show exercise improves our mental health. Instead of beating yourself up this year and punishing yourself with exercise, why not try something new and make exercise fun again? Try a new group fitness class! Always wanted to try pilates or boxing?  Head down to your local gym and ask about the classes they offer.

Become a Sleeping Beauty:

Sleep is extremely important for everything. Getting enough good quality sleep can be very difficult, but should definitely be up there on your priority list. Sleep is essential to normal functioning, and can help you feel clearer while setting yourself up for success during your stressful day.

Put Yourself First:

It’s time you take self care seriously. We are always working hard at getting things done and pleasing others in our lives. We don’t generally realize the value of self care until later in life. So schedule that massage, and pamper yourself. But more importantly, in vision who you want to be this year. And work forwards positive and meaningful patterns of putting the best version of yourself forward.

Happy New Year everyone!

Post Holiday blues after going back to work.

Post Holiday Blues-Why do I feel so down?

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The holidays are over, and it’s the first week of the new year. Feeling a little blue? You’re not alone.

It is easy to feel let down, depressed, anxious, and sad after the holidays. We tend to be on the go from October-December, while our schedules get filled with friends, family and parties to attend.

Our social calendars go from booked to blank.

So when our social calendars go from booked to blank, it can start to feel a little lonely. Scheduling yourself a coffee date with a friend, or a new workout class at the end of the month can be a good strategy to lift your spirits.

We usually spend the holidays with family, and sometimes with family we do not see on a regular basis. Whether you have a great relationship with your family, or a strained relationship, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by your them during the holidays.

Family can be overwhelming.

You might have unresolved issues with a family member, or be unhappy with something they said to you over the break. Whatever it is, family can be a big source of let down after the season is over.

During the holidays you tend to think more of loved ones that are no longer here. It can be difficult to be swept back into the sadness and grief of losing a loved one.

January is cold and dark!

The weather is also a factor in the post holiday blues. January is one of the coldest months, no matter where you live. It is darker longer, and people tend to stay inside more often.

When you travel for the holidays, you are bound to catch a cold with the amount of people you come in contact with. After the hype of the holidays have died down, your body sometimes react with getting sick and the fatigue can set in.

Thanksgiving and Christmas can be filled with foods that you wouldn’t normally eat. There are cookies and sweets everywhere, and getting back on a regular and healthier eating pattern can be tough after the holidays.

The holidays can be a let down.

I think the biggest thing that can contribute to post holidays blues, is being disappointed in how your holiday went. We always have these grandiose ideas of what the holidays should look like, and they don’t often live up to the hype.

All of this is to say that you are not alone in feeling blue in January. There are a number of factors that can contribute to feelings of let down and sadness. The important thing is to re-develop your routine with lots of things that make you feel happy.

Things to do in January:

  1. Kick start a new exercise goal, or join a new exercise class
  2. Make plans with friends towards the end of the month so you have something to look forward to
  3. Start a journal
  4. Try a new restaurant
  5. Go to a movie, or a museum
  6. Start planning a trip for sometime later in the year
  7. Finally tackle that project you’ve been putting off in the house for weeks
  8. Learn to cook a new dish, or take a cooking class


Alternatives to buying gifts this holiday season

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By the time Christmas rolls around, sometimes the pressure and stress of buying gifts is so overwhelming it takes away what the holidays are really all about. Spending time with family and friends. Today on our Youtube Channel, Dr. Melissa Estavillo talks about what you can suggest to your family instead of focusing on buying gifts for everyone.

Loney woman looking sad sitting next to a lit christmas tree

Grief and Loss During the Holidays

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Managing grief and loss can be very overwhelming and isolating at any time of the year, not to mention during the holidays. Whether you have just recently lost someone and this will be your first holiday season without your loved one, or this is your 10th it can be extremely difficult maintain the happiness and gratitude that pressure us all during this time.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to grief at the holidays according to Amy Morin over on Psychology Today;

  1. Trust that grief is a part of the healing
  2. Set healthy boundaries
  3. Focus on what you can control
  4. Plan ahead
  5. Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions
  6. Create new traditions
  7. Do something kind for others
  8. Ask for help

Grief is never something that you will “get over”, and understanding that will help aide in the process. It often comes in waves, and the holiday season can sometimes be a more difficult wave. As the holidays tend to be about spending time with family and loved ones, it can always be a reminder that you are missing that special someone.

It’s okay to feel sad or mad during this time. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be happy and grateful every second of the day. Allowing yourself to feel the emotions that come up will help to eliminate the guilt and pressure that we often put on ourselves to “get through” something.

A lot of people find that doing something for someone else, like volunteering, or buying gifts for those in need can help fill a void they might be feeling during the season. This can help you feel like you are doing something positive with your time, honoring your loved one, and creating an atmosphere of gratitude with are all great ways to heal.

Know that you are not alone in your grief. And many other people are also going through something similar during this time. There are often support groups in your area, and if you’re here in Phoenix please don’t hesitate to call us to set up an appointment with one of our wonderful grief therapists. 480-999-7070