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Mental Wellness Essentials Guide for 2021

Mental Wellness Essentials Guide for 2021
We can all agree that 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year. As we look towards 2021, let’s explore some strategies to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. These are not New Year’s resolutions, which are notoriously difficult to stick to. These are just simple and practical tips that you can incorporate in your daily life to take better care of yourself and have a fulfilled and happy new year. 

1. Move Your Way to a Healthy Mind 

Although most people exercise to stay fit and improve their physical health, exercise is also great for your mental health. You should move not only for your body but also for your mind. Try different forms of exercise to find what feels best for you. Mix and match. In doing so, exercise will stop being a chore and become a fun, feel-good activity to look forward to.

The connection between exercise and mental health is now well studied and clear. Engaging in some kind of exercise has profound effects on the brain, especially on the inhibition and activation of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that the brain uses to communicate with the body. For example, the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline plummet, thanks to exercise. On the other hand, the so-called “happy hormones” serotonin and norepinephrine are significantly increased during and after exercise. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer, contributing to general wellbeing and happiness, and norepinephrine, nicknamed “feel-good hormone,” improves alertness and energy. 

Serotonin is particularly sensitive to oxygen. The more oxygen you breathe, the more serotonin your body will produce. Meaning that fresh air makes you happier! So, if you are looking for a boost of energy and good mood, head outside. Wherever you live, go out and explore. If you live in a city, it might be your local park, a riverside walk, a new area to discover on foot. You don’t need to be running a marathon. Just grab your walking shoes and a buddy, and you are all set. Research tells us that exercising is better in good company. A 2017 study found that individuals who work out in a group have a 26 % lower stress rate and improved quality of life compared to people who work out solo. If your friends are not so keen on getting outside, you can join an adventure club such as The Lady Alliance, an association of inspiring women organizing outdoor events and retreats all over North America. Founder Kieren Britton believes that becoming and loving yourself is life's greatest adventure. Whether your seeking personal growth or healing, lacing up your first pair of hiking shoes, interested in environmental initiatives, or tackling your 100th summit, The Lady Alliance will be there to help you along the way.

2. Sleep - Your Brain Fuel
 
Sleep is as important to our health as breathing, eating, and drinking. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep for people over the age of 64 and 7 to 9 hours for those aged 18 to 64 (kids need even more sleep). More than 50% of us sleep much less than these recommendations. Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The connection between sleep and mental health is loud and clear.

Sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, you are not alone. Between 40 to 50 % of adults worldwide report some sort of sleep disturbance. Since sleep issues are often related to stress, meditation can help. As a relaxation technique, it can quiet the mind and the body. When done before bedtime, it can promote overall calmness, resulting in reduced sleep troubles. There are many apps out there that can guide your meditation. Otherwise, you can take it a step even forward and try a scientifically proven device to help you make the most of your meditation practice for a night of restorative sleep. Muse is a research-grade device that passively senses your brain activity and translates it into calming sounds. Muse’s soundscape meditations are designed to shift your mind away from racing thoughts and guide you into a restful night.

3. Eat Smart 

When it comes to nutrition and diet, there’s no such thing as a one size fits all approach. The answer to how to eat better and smarter lies in our DNA. The link between our genes and what we should be eating is only recently becoming clear, and a new field of study called nutrigenetic has boomed.

Having personalized insights into your diet can really make a difference in your wellbeing journey. Thanks to DNAfit, you can discover your unique nutrigenetic profile. You’ll get precious insights into your fat or carbs sensitivity, your lactose tolerance, and your optimal diet type.

eat well

At SHINE health, we strongly believe in a personalized approach tailored just for you and your needs. That’s why we put together hand-selected, well-researched natural ingredients into simple yet effective blends of supplements to help you become the best version of yourself. Our products are enhanced with a special ingredient called AlphaWave® L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid derived from tea leaves known to improve relaxation and cognitive performance. Promising results from several clinical studies have recently confirmed the beneficial effects of L-Theanine for anxiety and sleep disturbances.

A personalized approach with diet and nutrients recommendations will help you build your perfect diet and take control of your long-term health. So not only you will eat smarter, but you will also feel less stressed, more focused, and ready to cope with whatever life will throw you at in 2021.  

4. Connect

Save the date. On Thursday 28th of January 2021, the 11th edition of the Bell Let’s Talk Day will take place. Bell Let’s Talk is a Canadian campaign developed with the effort of raising awareness and combatting the stigma around mental illness. It’s a great opportunity to connect and engage in an open discussion about mental health.

Bell Let's Talk Day

Looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health. Exercise, sleep, and good nutrition, together with proper self-care, are all part of the equation for wellness. As we transition into the New Year, a new beginning, remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself time and space to attend to your mental health. You deserve it. Use the essential tips on this guide to improve your wellbeing: body, mind, heart, and soul.

About SHINE

SHINE is on a mission to help Canadians easily take control of their mental wellness with personalized and research-backed supplements delivered in plastic-free, compostable packs. Take our Mental Wellness Quiz here.


References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30570106/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/
  3. https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2661140
  4. https://theladyalliance.com/
  5. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32382403/
  7. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2110998
  8. https://choosemuse.com/explore-muse-s/
  9. https://www.dnafit.com/store/dietfit.asp
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31623400/
  11. https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives/

Three Ways to Eliminate Your Brain Fog

Three Ways to Eliminate Your Brain Fog

When talking about mental health and wellness, one of the most common complaints we hear of is generalized “brain fog”. While brain fog is not an official medical term, it is often used to describe low grade feelings of confusion, inability to focus, slow thinking response time and even lapses in memory.

These symptoms can quickly lead to frustration for those who are experiencing them, as navigating daily tasks takes more time and energy to complete. There is an overarching feeling of heaviness or a thickness in the mind where it feels like everything is moving more slowly than it should be.

The term “brain fog” is an apt description of what individuals with these symptoms are feeling. Think of our neuropathways like a highway, where information is supposed to travel at quick speeds.  When “the fog” rolls in, it slows everything down, backing up “traffic” causing congestion and delays.

There are many different root causes of brain fog. Everything from simple lack of sleep to serious pathologies can all contribute to brain fog as a persistent symptom. If brain fog lasts more than a few days and the cause is unknown, it is a good idea to check in with your health care practitioner so that they can run a few tests.

Some of the most common reasons for persistent brain fog include:

  •         Chronic sleep issues
  •         Nutrient deficiencies such as B12, Iron, and omega 3s
  •         Hormonal changes or imbalances
  •         Taking certain medications
  •         Ingesting drugs or alcohol
  •         The aging processes
  •         Intolerances to certain foods or eating excessively ( ie a food hangover)
  •         Diagnoses such as ADHD, Fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, and Alzheimer disease
  •         Fluctuating blood sugar levels
  •         Any chronic illness or stress

Because there are so many possible causes for brain fog, figuring out what the main contributing factors are for each individual may take some time. The reality is, there is often more than one contributing factor as many of these issues are interconnected on some level. 

Despite the long list of different causes for brain fog, the good news is there are some general things that almost everyone can do to improve their cognitive function and alleviate mental fatigue. These recommendations are general in nature and will provide some relief to most people.

The thing that we need to remember is to focus on the things we can control and not obsessively worry about the things that we can’t control. Practically speaking, that means there are steps individuals can take to reduce the impact of their brain fog, no matter what the underlying cause may be.

1. Focus on is improving nutrient intake

Ensuring proper nutrition that includes foods containing higher amounts of B vitamins and iron as well as omega 3 fatty acids will help to promote adequate levels of these nutrients in the body. Serious deficiencies of these vital nutrients may require supplementation to increase levels back to optimum range.

At SHINE health we specifically promote the use of Omega 3 supplementation due to its overwhelmingly positive effects on both the body and the brain. Our high potency omega 3 oil contains EPA and DHA which are two fatty acids that help to lower inflammation.  They have been proven to be effective in treating symptoms of ADHD, depression, and autoimmune diseases that have a high inflammatory component.  Omega 3 oils work at reversing inflammatory processes that can be a contributing factor to brain fog.

2. Elimination of certain foods, alcohol and recreational drugs that can impact alertness and focus

For instance, the reduction of highly refined carbohydrates can help to stabilize blood sugars, reducing the frequency of hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes, restoring alertness and focus. In addition, the reduction of alcohol and recreational drugs can have many positive effects on alertness and focus. However, sometimes the efforts to remove these substances from the diet can create symptoms of withdrawal that include low mood, lack of energy, anxiety, or irritability.

When reducing these types of substances it can be helpful to replace them with a certain category of supplements called nootropics. Nootropics are nutrients that help to regulate mood, energy, and focus. SHINE health specializes in nootropics and has a range of different products to support your particular needs. Memory, Focus, Energy.

Nootropics can work well for individuals reducing certain foods, alcohol or other drugs because the reason many people start overusing these substances in the first place is typically a form of self-medication. When people are using food, drugs or alcohol to assist with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low energy, stress and mental fatigue, they can be replaced by nutrients that are more advantageous to health.

3. Reduce stress 

Stress is one of the biggest factors in mental fatigue. When we are stressed we tend to ruminate, which means obsessively think about a situation. Stress also depletes vital nutrients more quickly which can lead to foggy thinking and inability to focus. 

Adopting strategies of mindfulness and gratitude can be helpful to interrupt the pattern of obsessively thinking about stressful situations. In addition, adding certain herbs to your supplement regime, such as ashwagandha, theanine, rhodiola and ginseng can help to improve the stress response and reduce the incidence of mental fatigue. Begin your day with SHINE Unstress® to get ahead of your stress.  

In conclusion, reducing brain fog requires a multifaceted strategy that includes nutrition, lifestyle and supplemental support. Knowing the root cause of your brain fog can be helpful to make sure you are taking the right approach for your particular situation, and using some of these general guidelines will work in your favour to reduce mental fatigue, increasing your alertness, focus and even productivity.

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-fog
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20434961/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5526680/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24470182/
  5. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nyas.12807

About Author


Kathy Ryan
 
Kathy Ryan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with over 15 years experience in the health and wellness industry. Her primary focus has been on women's health including weight management, hormone and autoimmune issues. Over the years she has had opportunity to work with and learn from some of the leading natural health experts in these areas. 

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