This is the first installment of what will be an ongoing topic throughout the duration of this blog.
Peacefulness is not passive; it’s something you have to actively and continually fight to keep in your life. A life with no peace, filled with stress, anxiety and fear (three big words that most people can align with this year) can cause actual physical damage to your body, not to mention your spirit. The moral of my personal story lately is this: Stress, if not dealt with, can manifest itself physically in our bodies in whatever ways it chooses. This includes mimicking symptoms of an auto immune disease. Heavy stress and anxiety can also trigger auto immune diseases, along with so many other issues—so look at your family medical history, seek out counsel, and do whatever is needed to protect yourself. What may seem over the top to others, may be necessary relaxation and peace for you and your health.
Some who know me, know about my recent medical journey, and the depths of anxiety that experience brought into my life. My mental health has been something I’ve struggled with and learned so much about in the last eight years, and it has been absolutely fascinating to see how interwoven our mentalities are with our physical health.
To skim the surface this morning, I thought I would share with you the two changes I’ve made in my fight for peace, which have made the biggest difference in my health: 1) Adding intentional moments of peace into my daily routine, and 2) a high serotonin, high antioxidant, low inflammatory foods diet. Today, I want to give you an outline of my daily routine, and I strongly encourage you to take this, customize it for yourself, and mimic it in your own lives.
My Daily Routine
The Night Before:
-Place a glass of water on my bedside table to wake up to in the morning.
In The Morning:
-Wake up two hours before I am needed to be anywhere (normally between 6:45-7:15). Drink my full glass of water before before getting out of bed. Use this time to enter into a mindset of health and thankfulness, and enjoy a moment to myself of quiet.
-Drink coffee only after I’ve had the full glass of water, and if possible, eat something small with the coffee to help soothe my stomach. (If you drink more than two 12 oz cups of coffee a day, consider cutting down and replacing the other cups with hot chamomile tea. As a woman who also owns a coffee roasting business -Chaleur Coffee-, that may be surprising for you to hear me say, but coffee should be used as a ritual, not a drug. For me, it was more about having a warm mug in my hand).
-Stretch my muscles, do spinal traction on my yoga ball (I no longer practice actual yoga, but that’s another story for a different time. General stretching while thinking about the items in Philippians 4:8 works just as well for me).
Throughout My Day:
-Make a point to have at least 30 minutes of what I call “seeking serotonin” somewhere in my day. Intentionally making time to do something that will bring me joy, literally flushing my brain with serotonin. (Do not scroll social media. That is dopamine, not serotonin. Look up the differences and make sure you get the right chemical to your brain. It might feel silly to use a John Mulaney stand up as “medicine”, but seriously, it works. Make an intentional point to laugh and smile, even more if it’s an especially difficult day. The section of your brain that controls facial expressions such as smiling, is an automatic response area. This means if you make your face smile- smiling with your face muscles tell your brain, “Oh, I guess we must be happy”, and it sends serotonin and endorphins to your brain. You can trick your mind into creating those chemicals. HOW TRULY WILD IS THAT.) If I can fit three serotonin moments in my day, that’s even better.
-Take a walk outside. I take two: one after lunch, and one after dinner.
-Find scents that calm or remind me of happy places (general relaxation like citrus or tea tree, or things that evoke happy memories from childhood, etc.), and use them when at home. I have scents that I use regularly in the shower or at night, and certain scents that I only use when I am creating an intentional relaxation moment so that I don’t get used to them by overuse, and can connect a certain fragrance directly with peace.
-Generally, allow myself space from tense topics or conversations with people I know won’t hear what I have to say for the moment, especially if they aren’t necessary conversations for moving forward. (Infatuation with heavy or dark topics is not good for our minds, but is very common right now in social media and social settings. Don’t shy away from conversations that need to be discussed, but excuse yourself from discussions that add unneeded tension to your mind and muscles. Instead of responding to dark topics with worry or tension, try mentally responding by looking for peace and hope for a better future. You can’t advocate for other people well if you aren’t taking care of your own mind and body.)
In The Evening:
-Have afternoon Chamomile tea, every afternoon or evening with my husband. I’ve made it a ritual before going to sleep as a part of my wind-down routine.
-Before getting in bed, try to take at least 30 minutes without looking at my phone, or a screen at all.
-Pour a glass of water, and set it on the bedside table for the next morning.