We all have moments when we are down and out and things feel very overwhelming. It’s during times like this we forget what’s important and most of the forgetting comes from not being able to think straight. It’s during times like this we lose our calm and emotional control and in the process we may end up hurting the people around us.
Feeling embarrassed, apologizing and making amends is fine. However, let’s not look at the end result of the symptoms, but instead at the root cause of the entire problem.
I’m going to put myself on the cross and be completely honest here. Lately, as of last week, I’ve been a complete ass. I’ve pretty much had zero emotional control, strangely enough for no reason I’ve experienced a deep sadness and for the first time in a long time, I’ve had a bunch of negative thoughts. I’ve lost my temper twice and acted out in a fit of rage and emotion, which is actually not that much considering how much of a ticking time-bomb I’ve been. It really goes to show how well the other stuff I usually do works.
It doesn’t matter how perfect you are, as long as you are human; you are bound to make mistakes and find yourself off track at some point, as this is a part of being human.
It’s hard to find a truer statement, however this is but one truth amongst many truths. It’s one side of the coin. What if I told you… that you can make fewer mistakes by reducing the amount of emotional decisions you make. What if I told you… that there is a way to stay calm no matter what. What if I told you… there is a way to reduce negative thoughts to zero?
Would you believe me? I’d actually be really sad if you did, because I haven’t even told you how yet. Never take someone’s word for anything. Always look for the truth through your own experience. Read this article, try out the stuff for yourself and find the truth.
Now, without further ado, let’s begin.
Whole foods and water
Others have probably told you countless times that you are what you eat (and drink!). Most people immediately think in terms of body composition. However, body composition is just one part, the surface part. If we go deeper than the surface we can clearly see that nothing has a more profound effect on mental stability and performance as food and proper hydration. When you haven’t eaten well, you are less defended against everything, even yourself. Your mind may actually work against you. How many times have you ruined something for yourself because you lost emotional control or were just too tired to make great decisions? Decisions that you could easily have made if your thinking wasn’t so clouded.
Yet, it’s just not as simple as just eating more. It’s about what you eat. Different type of foods has different nutrients in them and some may have more than others.
If you aren’t eating properly the best analogy I can give you is – It’s like being a soldier without a vest or a helmet. It’s unheard of, yet every day you go to the battlefield that is life, totally unarmed.
Essentially, your brain only works really well when food enters the picture. The brain is a ridiculously complicated mass of cells made mostly of fat. The process of thinking both consciously and unconsciously, managing appetite, coordinating breathing, digestion and many other activities are all handled by the brain. This actually takes up 20% of the energy we use every day. Because of this high energy usage it’s only natural that the brain needs a ton of raw materials all the time.
Certain amino acids, minerals, vitamins, cholesterol, and, in particular, long chain omega 3 fatty acids are vital to the structure and function of the brain. Without all the right components, the ability of the brain to keep up its high energy output and clean up metabolic byproducts breaks down, leading to inflammation and toxins that can build up and even destroy neurons.
It’s vital that you understand that the first step to mental robustness and health is being aware of the literal and scientific connection between your mood and food. It’s as simple as giving the brain what it needs, period.
Struggle, release, flow, and recovery.
Besides handling the essentials, like thinking, breathing, appetite, and digestion your brain releases different neurochemicals depending on your activities. During active periods, it’s easy to forget that you have to move from struggle into release, then into flow and finally into recovery. I wrote a full article about the cycles of flow, but the short version is that you first have to struggle. Then you enter release, this literary means that you have to take your mind off the matter at hand. Once you take your mind of the matter at hand and come back to the task you enter flow and powerful neurochemicals are released into your system.
After these powerful ‘feel good’ chemicals leave your system you need to recover. It takes certain amount vitamin, minerals, sunlight and things of that nature to get back into a new struggle phase and start all over again.
By now, you are probably starting to release how important it really is to eat nutritionally dense foods. Not just for making decisions and staying alert, but also for the recovering from all these neurochemical changes that your brain makes when you are focused and absorbed in activities.
What you eat can literary make or break your performance.
If we go back and take me as an example, last week was nothing to be proud of. I was an asshole of epic proportions, I felt down for no reason at all and emotional control seemed pretty much nonexistent. Negative thoughts came naturally and bad decisions were just around the corner.
I was so absorbed in my goals and anyone who was standing in my way or hindering me from moving forward was completely discarded.
These behaviors were all symptoms, not root causes.
Staying healthy and well is a science. It’s like how individual letters make up a words. Without letters, there could never be a forming of words.
If we take a real look at what I was doing to myself during this week, we find that this behavior was only a natural byproduct –
During my obsessive goal driven week I had stopped going to the gym. By not going to the gym I cut off the activity which perhaps brings me the biggest release of dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone that improves mood and long term memory.
By not going to the gym I reduced my appetite and while I was focused and absorbed at the tasks at hand, I simply forgot about eating all together. I went from eating 4-5 times a day to only once.
I would literary go for periods over 10 hours without food (outside of sleep)
I never took any time off to recover, reflect and get new insights. I just kept pushing on and on.
This in turn made me very fatigued and I was just too tired to manage my emotions. Frustration came easy and anger even easier.
The one meal that I usually had consisted of some bullshit-food, such as cinnamon buns or some pizza from the local supermarket, go figure right…
My sleep was all over the place and my hormones out of whack.
My usual strong-will that keeps me from drinking alcohol was weakened, and trying to drink myself into oblivion seemed like a good idea.
With all this in consideration, is it my behavior really that surprising?
If we compare this to what I normally do –
I cook all my meals at home. If I’m ever eating out, I look for the best quality of food available.
I make sure to have at least one if not two servings of fruit every day.
I eat plenty of greens and make sure to drink water around the hour and eat every 3-4 hours.
I make sure to drink plenty of green tea.
I may not be the biggest kid on the block, but I exercise intelligently and often.
I make sure to stretch and deepen my breathing.
I make sure to take my mind off matters so that I can recover and reflect.
I mentally focus on staying calm all day long.
I read regularly and take in clean present energy from well-written books by great authors and this in turn increases the quality of my thoughts.
Is it really that surprising that I can take ‘bad happenings’ or ‘negative situations’ in stride? Is it really surprising that I find myself being in a ‘happy state’ naturally?
No it isn’t. It’s like building a pyramid. If you have a great base it will become strong and hard against attacks. If it has a weak base it will crumble.
If you don’t take anything else out of this article, remember this one thing. To everything in life there is a cause and effect. When it appears that you are sad, negative or depressed for no reason, always remember that there is a reason. If there is an effect, there is always a cause. Fix the root cause and you fix the entire problem.
Anyways, I’m back to eating a bunch of greens and other whole foods, properly hydrating myself and exercising. Already, I feel like I can think again and the things that bothered me don’t even seem like issues anymore.
Smiling comes naturally and I want to make other people smile. I’m being myself again (at least the one I want to identify with)