Music Magnitude

Here’s the news,
MUSIC CAN HELP TO LIFT YOUR MOOD.

How it works;

  • The rhythm of music affects your mood by altering your heart rate.

Your heart beats faster with faster rhythms, which will often leave you feeling more “upbeat” and cheerful.
Of course, the opposite applies as well.  With slower beats comes a slower heart rate which can have you feeling calm and relamed.

  • The tone affects our mood too!

A song that uses mostly in major keys is more cheerful than one that uses many of the minor keys.

  • Listening to music and enjoyable sounds calms the nervous system changes the brain waves you produce.

Listening to music calms the nervous system on a celular level. Also music stimulates the production of alpha and theta waves in the brain. Bursts of these waves sparks creativity.

How to use music to increase your mood;
If you are in a low mood and want to feel more cheerful, follow these  instructions.

1. Try to find music that matches your mood. Whether you are sad, angry, frustrated, flabergasted, annoyed, tires, irritated, lonley… Whatever it is, find it in a tune.

Really try to make that first song one that really hits the nail on the head. Even better, one that you like to sing along with.

2. Once you find that, start to find music that is slightly more upbeat. The key here is to make the increments small.
Small changes are always the most sustainable.

3. Continue by making a playlist. Make a playlist that takes you on an emotional journey from sad to … less sad, or mad to … less mad.

You don’t need to be jumping for joy by the end of the playlist.
You could even make a few playlists; one from “sad to less sad” another titled “everything is fine and getting finer” and another called “journey from good to great” Have fun with it.

Do what works for you.

  • Don’t try to listen to super happy songs if you are depressed, it will only reinforce your sadness.
  • Don’t focus too hard on asking yourself “am I feeling better, am I happy yet?” Just let the process be and enjoy it.

Be patient with yourself. Emotions are part of our human experience. We are meant to feel all of them. (Even the shitty ones). 

 

 

 

 

A Little Give, A Major Gain

EXERCISE.

We hear it all the time that we should be exercising and eating right. It’s not that we don’t know, it’s just that… It’s just that what?

Whatever the excuse, it has to go. Get out there and move, even for 10 minutes. It will change your life.

Studies have shown that exercise not only has a great effect on the way our body looks but it also increases immune function and endorphins (which make you feel happy).  Not only that, exercise also

  • Decreases anxiety
  • Decreases cortisol (stress hormone)
  • Increases mood, in the short and long term
  • Improves sleep pattern
  • Creates new brain cells

By forcing yourself to do a little exercise you are not only working on your bod, but also you are becoming smarter, calmer, healthier and happier.

Don’t let yourself hold yourself back. Take ten minutes and do it. No excuses. This is a choice you can make that I can guarantee you will not regret.

Happy Gene?

Are you a “look on the bright side” type, or are you more of the belief system that “this horrible thing always happens to me”? Either way, this study has found that your outlook may be affected by your genes.

Elaine Fox at Essex University did a study that showed 100 people positive and negative pictures on a computer screen ie. smiling children and growling dogs. She then measured which images they focused on.

DNA samples were given and tested to see which version of the 5-HTTLPR gene they had. This gene affects the levels of serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter) in the brain.

HOW IT WORKS 
We inherit either a long and short, two short, or two long strands of this gene.

The findings were this;
People with 2 short strands
were able to focus on the positive and not be negatively influence by the negative images.

However, past research has shown that people with 2 short strands have a higher tendency to be depressed and anxious. These folk are sensitive to their environment. They will highly benefit from a nurturing environment, but also may be less resilient if they have a traumatic experience.

People with 2 long strands are generally less reactive to either bad experiences or good ones.

Using this research may be useful in the future to determine which type of therapy may be most useful for someone.

Interesting research! My thought though, is that if you have any kind of self awareness, you could probably accurately guess which of these types you are without having a DNA test.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2035716/The-happy-gene-makes-smiley-positive-person.html

 

Caffiene Chemistry

As with most things, our love for caffeine, comes down to brain chemistry! I am no chemist, but here are the basics. It’s all about neurotransmitters adenosine, adrenaline (epinephrine) and dopamine.

ADENOSINE
Adenosine is made in the brain and once it is made, it searches for its receptor to bond with. The reaction of the binding of adenosine and its receptor causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity.

This also causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing the amount of oxygen into the organs. Chemically, caffeine looks like adenosine. So, it fits into adenosine’s receptor cell.

This disables adenosine from binding with its receptor and it causes the opposite reaction. When these two bind, instead of causing the vasodilatation and drowsiness that would normally occur with adenosine, the caffeine causes the nerve cells to speed up.

This causes blood vessels to constrict and causes increased neuron firing. In response to the increased  neuron firing, the pituitary gland prepares for an emergency.

A “fight or flight” response occurs and the adrenal glands produce epinephrine (adrenalin).  

EPINEPHRINE (ADRENALIN)
During our “fight or flight” caused by epinephrine, our pupils dilate, our airways open, muscles tighten, our blood pressure rises, blood flow is directed to the main organs and less into the extremities, the liver releases sugar into the blood stream, and blood flow to the stomach slows. Now we are ready for action! Many of us in this mild fight or flight response function better than we would otherwise. We are more alert and we are ready for anything!

DOPAMINE
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure centres in parts of the brain. Caffeine slows down the reabsorption rate of dopamine down (as does heroine and cocaine).

This leaves more dopamine in the synapse, available for use. Having more dopamine makes us feel fantastic. The dopamine is a key contributor to our world wide caffeine addiction.

That’s the end of our basic caffeine chemistry lesson for today. Remember:

  • Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
  • Too much coffee can decrease serotonin levels (another feel good brain neurotransmitter).
  • Too much caffeine also will interfere with your sleep.

The emphasis here is “too much”; however, drinking between 400-500mg of coffee daily can actually have health benefits. Another rule of thumb….

Moderation is key if you wanna stay happy. :) 

 

 

 

Keen on Caffeine?

Recently I posted some sleepy tips. Something to consider when trying to figure out why you are having trouble sleeping is your caffeine intake. So here are the facts, quick and dirty.

THE FACTS

  • Second to crude oil, coffee is most sought commodity in the world. Coffee is worth over $100 billion worldwide. This puts it ahead of natural gas, gold, sugar, and even corn.
  • Worldwide we drink over 500 billion cups of coffee per year.
  • Coffee is the source of 75% of America’s caffeine.
  • Drinking coffee was banned in Cairo, Egypt and Turkey and at one time, if you drank it you would risk the death penalty.
  • Finland drinks the most coffee per capita in the world.

So how much caffeine are you drinking? This is how much caffeine that buzzes around in your daily 8 oz. cup of deliciousness.

Coffee –> 100-200mg
Black tea –> 15-70mg
Green tea –> 25-45mg
Coca-cola –> 25-35mg
Typical energy drink –> 70-100mg

(Side note) Semi-sweet chocolate chips (1/2 cup) –> 52mg

So there you have it. There have been rumours that tea has more caffeine than coffee. Not true!

And energy drinks, even they still come in second after the all mighty coffee. Energy drinks contain other stimulants such as guarana, tuarine, and B vitamins that give you that extra umf.

So how much caffeine is healthy?

400-500mg daily is safe for most adults. Of course, everyone is different! Know what works for you. Cut off your caffeine intake around 3:00pm if you are looking for a good nights sleep.

Again, everyone is different. If one cup of coffee gives you the jitters then it’s probably too much! Other signs that you are drinking too much caffeine include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors
  • Acid reflux

The best thing you can do for yourself always is listen to your own body.

Obviously we are a world who is crazy for caffeine. But why do we like caffeine so much? … Stay tuned for my upcoming post. I’ll talk about the chemistry of our caffeine love/addiction.

Better sleep = Better life

How do you feel aren’t sleeping well? Me? I feel useless. My coworkers probably agree that I am useless , I have increased anxiety and I can’t retain information. Yuck! That’s definitely enough to put anyone in a bad mood!

Yes, it’s basic. But like most basic things, it is essential. Here are some sleep tips (not) to follow. (Be sure to read the pop ups! The fun finishes at the 1:00 mark)

Laughter is also important for your mood, so lighten up! (Your mood, not your room, keep that dark). Sometimes the stress of trying to fall asleep is part of the problem. Here are some interesting sleep facts.

THE FACTS:

  • Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep.
  • Some people can function and top capacity with only 6 hours of sleep, while others require 10. (How many hours do you need? What can you/ are you doing to make sure you get it?)
  • Lack of sleep results to decreased production of leptin which is an appetite regulating hormone. Less leptin = more appetite.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.
  • Whales and dolphins both fall half asleep. They turn off one hemisphere of the brain at a time so they can continue to go surface to breathe.

FOODS THAT ENCOURAGE SLEEP.
It’s a good idea to not eat right before bed. But if you are looking for a little goodnight snack, indulge in one of these foods.

  • Grapefruit, tomatoes, papaya and watermelon. These foods contain lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps regulate sleep cycles.
  • Cherries. Cherries contain magnesium (as does chocolate). Magnesium helps to relax your muscles and mind as you prepare for sweet dreams.
  • Sunflower seeds, fish (salmon, halibut, tuna). These are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a vitamin needed to make melatonin – the key nutrient needed for sleep.

Also, fish (halibut, tuna, cod, shellfish), along with barley, turkey and nuts. These foods contain selenium. Selenium is something that I’ve read in many sources that claims to help you sleep. It is required for the synthesis and metabolism of thyroid hormones; however, most people are getting enough selenium in their diet. It is a micro-nutrient and too much of it won’t be doing you any favours.

SLEEP HYGIENE.
You have heard this term many times before I don’t doubt. Here are the basic principles:

  • Your caffeine intake stops at 3:00pm.
  • You get outside during the day, you are exposed to light and at best, even some exercise.
  • Your room is dark and quiet and meant for sleeping purposes only. The only items you need besides a comfortable bed, are preferably clean sheets, a good pillow, and a good(ish) book. The book doesn’t even have to be good, it can be boring, that’ll put you to sleep faster. In all honesty, I sometimes read a thesaurus before bed.
  • You have a bedtime routine that starts an hour before your actual bed time. Many people recommend a bath with some lavender soap or essential oils for relaxation, which is a good start. You know what relaxes you. Do that.
  • You don’t drink too much alcohol. No alcohol is best. You will do what you do, but know that alcohol is not helping you fall to sleep, despite what you may tell yourself.  Although alcohol is a depressant and it may help you to fall asleep initially, there is a rebound effect. After being asleep for a short time, you will wake up feeling unrested and you will not reach the deep sleep cycle that you would otherwise.

This is a great website that covers more on sleep hygiene. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/

SLEEPING SUPPLEMENTS/PILLS. (AS THE VERY LAST OPTION) Any time you start taking a supplement or pill regularly for something, there is a good chance your body will begin to rely on the contents of that pill to produce what it used to produce on its own.

Pills have their place, if you have tried everything else and just need a good sleep and need it now, then supplements or pills may be the option you choose. Don’t take sleeping pills unless you have already tried to go sleep naturally and you can’t. Use caution.

I recommend trying the more mild options first. Start low, go slow. Always check to see if supplements have any interactions with medications you are already taking. Consult your doctor if you have concerns.

Below are some suggestions of supplements you may wish to try before going for the prescription pills.

1. Valerian. Valerian is a root and acts as a mild sedative. It calms the nervous system by increasing the bodies available supply of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). This reduces anxiety, induces relaxation and therefor helps one to sleep. It is mild so you shouldn’t wake up with the sleeping pill hangover effect which would defeat the purpose of taking the supplement in the first place.

2. Melatonin. Our bodies naturally make melatonin at night. It is important to have a dark room to stimulate its production.  If your body is already making enough melatonin, then taking more of it will not help you. If you are low on melatonin, a small dose should be all you need. If you need more than 1mg of melatonin to get you to sleep, you may want to consider other methods. Taking too much melatonin may disrupt your sleep cycle.

3. 5-Hydroxytryptophane (5-HTP). This is an amino-acid that is a building block of melatonin. 5-HTP converts to the feel good hormone serotonin. Taking this supplement can be good for your mood and your sleep cycles. It may help you fall asleep quicker. It also may take 6-12 weeks to reach full effect. Again, be sure to check if these interact with any medications you are already taking.  The last thing you need when you are sleep deprived is to start mixing drugs that aren’t meant to mix! Any questions, concerns, or comments please share!

Sweet dreams!

Feel Good Foods

Sure we know that beans and greens are good for us and our mood. But lets talk about the more appetizing choices! All of these can mixed together for a healthy breakfast and a great way to start a happy day. 

The easiest and quickest way to increase your mood is to eat a happy food!
Happy Foods Include:

Nuts! –> Walnuts are high in serotonin which is one of the key neurotransmitters for happiness. Also, walnuts are high in omega 3’s. Omega 3’s help to keep a steady, even and happy mood. Also it is good for your memory and for your skin!

Blueberries and blackberries –> These berries are high in anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a purple pigment and also a mood enhancer. Not to mention the all of the mighty antioxidants in these berries that keep us healthy, happy and cancer free!

Eggs –> The yolks of eggs are high in choline. Choline is a nutrient required to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps with signalling between memory-supporting neurons and helps us to maintain focus. 

Oatmeal –> Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate. Carbohydrates stimulate the production of serotonin. Oatmeal (along with sweet potatoes and whole wheat pastas) provides your brain with tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that stimulates serotonin production, which helps you to feel calm, happy and relaxed. 

Bananas –> Bananas are also high in tryptophan.

Lastly and most importantly,
Chocolate! –> High in magnesium which calms your muscles and reduces anxiety. It’s also high in tryptophan. Yes! You’ve gotta go for the dark stuff and the tricky part is not eating too much of it!… But if you do, oh well! Being hard on yourself isn’t healthy.

Now, if you are anything like me, you have no problem eating a little chocolate for breakfast! I do know of some people who are of a different breed, so I will leave chocolate chips as a mere suggestion for this awesome ecstatic breakfast recipe!

Ecstatic Oatmeal

1 cup oats
2 cups water
1 banana, sliced thin
1 handful of berries (fresh or frozen)
1 handful of almonds and/or walnuts (crushed up to the size you prefer)
1/4 cup of coconut oil (or butter)
1-2 eggs
pinch of salt
sweetener optional, (preferably honey for a healthy choice)
chocolate chips also optional (but highly recommended)

Directions:

  • Make your oatmeal as you would with 1 cup oatmeal and 2 cups water and put it on a medium heat on the stove.
  • Once it starts to heat up and become homogenous, add your egg(s), coconut oil (or butter).
  • Stir it all together. Cook until it is at the consistency you desire.
  • Add a pinch of salt and stir some more.
  • Take off the heat and add your bananas, nuts and berries (add berries a little earlier if frozen), and optional sweetener now.
  • Before you eat, add some mini chocolate chips on top. Yum yum yum! This delicious breakfast should carry you well into your day feeling full, energized, happy and content. :)

Let me know how it works for you! I’m always open for feedback and further suggestions!

More happy foods and recipes to come. Stay tuned!