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We live in a culture that prioritizes external looks over internal health, systematic education over child lead learning and putting all our trust in “experts” over listening to our intuitions. In our fast-paced and demanding lives, it's easy to neglect the well-being of our minds, even when we are mindful and prioritize our physical health and fitness. However, just like we dedicate time to exercise our bodies, nurturing our minds through daily mental exercise is equally important and when your microbiome is balanced your efforts will be exponentially easier and more effective.
Whether you have children of school age or not. Whether you homeschool your children or they attend traditional schools. The beginning of the new school year feels similar to New Years in many ways. With the waning of long summer days and the waxing of star filled evenings, it’s a beautiful time to commit or recommit to healthy habits. And not just for yourself.
If you are someone who craves positive days as a mother or in your individual life, this episode is for you. When you learn the profound impact your microbiome has on your mental health, you will have a whole new sense of hope because it's so much easier and achievable than you could ever imagine. When our gut microbiome is imbalanced, it creates a negative environment that affects our mindset. You may have experienced moments when you struggle to see clearly and find it difficult to sustain a positive headspace. You have likely witnessed your child experience sudden outbursts that leave you so defeated and confused. You are left asking yourself . . . “What happened?” “What caused that?” “How can I support my child differently?” or “What is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I just be happy?”.
In this episode, we are going to dive into the power of daily mental exercise and its undeniable connection to your microbiome. Get ready to explore how nurturing your microbiome creates a positive environment for a healthy mindset because after this episode - there is no going back. And again, this isn’t just for yourself. We are going to take it one step further today and I am going to share the exact tools, apps and resources I use for all of the practices that make daily life, no matter where we are, so damn amazing! I am so excited for this one - let’s get into it!
Our mental health begins with our ability to feel. There are so many intricate layers to this but culturally we are urged to medicate and stuff our feelings deep. Whether they are physical or mental feelings. This insinuates that feelings are negative. So this is my first tip. Change your story. Feelings are a gift. They are our bodies and souls communicating with us that they need some attention. When we consistently turn our bodies and souls down they will continue screaming at us but eventually they get tired. They wear down and all of our feelings become muffled. It’s time to put your hand up and turn inward. To unapologetically feel. Feeling the hard allows you to feel the good so much bigger. And even bigger than ourselves, it is our job as women and mothers to change what is possible for our children. We must teach them how to feel their bodies and emotions. How to listen and process for self support. We teach this by learning and bringing tools into our homes to acknowledge and nurture. By showing up for practices that empower us. By letting go of cultural norms and coming back home to ourselves.
I am so excited to share some of these tools with you but first it's important that we talk about how your microbiome will either enhance or sabotage your efforts.
The connection between the gut and the brain is often referred to as the gut-brain axis. Here are several ways that our microbiome influences our mental health:
1. The gut microbiome produces neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for regulating mood and emotions. An imbalanced microbiome can lead to deficiencies in these neurotransmitters, potentially causing mood disorders like depression or anxiety.
2. An unhealthy gut can trigger inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. This chronic inflammation is associated with various mental health issues, as it can disrupt the normal functioning of brain cells.
3. The gut is a significant part of our immune system. When it's out of balance, it can trigger immune responses that affect the brain and contribute to mental health problems.
4. A balanced microbiome aids in the absorption of essential nutrients, including those crucial for brain health. Without proper nutrient absorption, your brain doesn’t receive the nourishment it needs to function optimally.
Now, how does this tie into daily mental exercise and the importance of feeling your emotions? Well, taking care of your microbiome involves not just dietary choices but also managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and, importantly, acknowledging and processing your emotions.
When you make an effort to listen to your body and emotions, you're helping to reduce stress. Chronic stress can negatively impact your microbiome, creating an imbalance that further affects your mental health. Embracing your feelings and addressing them head-on can break this cycle.
And again, even bigger than us, teaching our children to do the same sets a powerful example. By creating a supportive environment that encourages emotional expression and self-awareness, you're helping your children build a strong foundation for their mental health.
Okay! With all of this, the following practices are far easier and beneficial when you do them while simultaneously nurturing balance within your microbiome . . . And if you are sitting there wondering “what does that even mean and where do I even start?” Please listen to episode 63. I will link it in the show notes for you. These two episodes really go hand in hand. To get the most out of you, make sure to listen to the other.
- The first practice I want to share with you is Tapping Meditation. This is a practice that combines acupressure and positive affirmations. I have been tapping with my family for quite some time now and it has been a total life changer. The rhythmic tapping on specific acupressure points on your body helps to calm the nervous system and reduce the cortisol levels associated with stress. All while acknowledging any feelings you are experiencing and working through them in a really positive way. My very favorite tapping meditation app Tapping Solutions very generously shared a link so you can try it for free! I literally wouldn’t tap if it weren’t for this app. It teaches you exactly what to do, there are challenges and guided meditations for every possible feeling you experience. I could talk about this app all day long. My favorite is joining challenges with my whole family. When we wake up in the mornings we turn on one of the meditations while we are snuggling and it sets the most wonderful tone to our day. I also tap myself when I am having a hard moment and bring myself back into a positive headspace. Or when my children are having a hard moment, I pull them aside and listen to their hearts and before we jump back into family life we take five minutes to do a little meditation together.
- This all leads perfectly into the second one. So simple but makes all the difference. Every morning at breakfast we go around the table and share our gratitudes and affirmations. So let me define this really quickly - we share a person, an experience or a feeling that we are grateful for and then something we are happy that is happening for us. These affirmations are powerful and they work. Every single thing that our family has affirmed has come true. This is also such a special way to see into your children’s hearts. The trick is stating your dream like it is already your reality. For example, my son wanted a very specific skateboard helmet for the longest time. Every morning he would say “I am so happy I have my dream skateboard helmet!” and then wouldn’t you know it - he won the exact helmet of his dreams in the exact color and size in a raffle. We try to keep our affirmations about experiences and feelings but sometimes there are things that we want. Right now I am affirming an infrared sauna. You get the gist here. Be bold and let life happen for you!
- Now speaking of affirming a sauna! This is one that I haven’t actually been able to practice regularly due to the nature of living and traveling in a bus but when we get home I am really excited to commit 10 minutes of every day to sweating in my new infrared sauna. I have an entire episode lined up to share more about why but in brief, it is the most efficient way of detoxing toxins and heavy metals and this absolutely falls into alignment with nurturing our mental health. For any of you interested in incorporating this into your life right now, I want to share this much - I have extensively researched the best sauna because if I am doing something I want to do it right. I will be getting the Sunlighten mPulse Smart Sauna Aspire. These saunas come in all different sizes to fit your space and I am so darn excited for the day I get home and put one in my bedroom. Sunlighten has so very generously shared a discount to save you $600 on your sauna! I will attach a link in the show notes for you if this speaks as loudly to you as it does me. All you do is follow that link and the discount will automatically be applied to your order.
- Net up is yoga. Incorporating even just a few minutes of yoga into your daily routine is so important. Through mindful movement and breath control, yoga enhances your mental clarity, reduces stress, and helps maintain a positive headspace. My favorite yoga app is called Downdog. I don’t have a discount to share at this time but I will gladly link it in the show notes along with everything else from this episode so you don’t have to write anything down or try to remember. Downdog is absolutely amazing. It is so customizable, you can pick your preferred background music, voice, type of yoga and how many minutes you want to practice. I move between different types of yoga during the different phases of my cycle and I just love how I can do this yoga from anywhere, on my own timeline and occasionally my babes love doing it with me!
- Just a few more that I want to share. Have you ever heard of a Pranamat? If not, I introduce you to my favorite massage and acupressure at home, on demand therapist. The Pranamat is a therapeutic massage mat designed to provide various health benefits through acupressure. The acupressure points can help alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain in areas such as your back, neck, shoulders, and legs. The pressure points on the mat stimulate blood flow, which can help improve circulation throughout your body. And my favorite - it promotes relaxation and reduces stress. The acupressure points trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural "feel-good" hormones that help reduce stress and anxiety. I also have a wonderful discount code to share with you in the show notes. The link provided will save you on any Pranamat bundle. I have the two piece bundle, the mat and pillow and its really so lovely.
- Next up is journaling. Dedicating just a few minutes every day to writing your goals and gratitudes is so simple but goes so far. It also helps you reflect back to see patterns. Like your perspective during different phases of your cycle, the connection between sleep and your outlook etc. I will include a link to my favorite journal in the show notes.
- Of course prioritizing time in nature, quality sleep, eating nourishing foods and limiting screen time are all others that contribute to your microbiome and mental health.
So how on earth do you incorporate all of this into everyday life? As a busy woman and mama? I want to share my morning routine really quickly.
Right when we wake up our children all come to snuggle. We do a Tapping Solutions meditation all together. Ty plays with our babes and makes breakfast while I do my yoga and meditate on my Pranamat. My favorite meditation to do at that time is the guided meditation on the Down Dog app. We then all have breakfast together and share our affirmations. After breakfast Ty works for a while and I jump into homeschool with our babes. We always start homeschool with our journaling. I do my own journal and then help my loves do theirs. A big part of our homeschool is exploring outside and getting fresh air. When we move back home I visualize incorporating our Sunlighten sauna into our homeschool and then after I get my babes to bed at night I will gift myself some time in there. I share all of this just as inspiration of how to incorporate these practices into daily life. The point is they are part of daily life, they aren’t extras.
To wrap this episode up - nurturing your microbiome and exercising your mind go hand in hand for cultivating a positive headspace. By prioritizing a balanced microbiome through gut-balancing supplements and nourishing foods, you create an environment that supports a healthier mindset. Incorporating the practices I shared in this episode will strengthen your mental well-being while promoting a balanced gut.
Remember, an imbalanced gut microbiome creates a negative environment for your mindset. Take charge of your well-being by nurturing your microbiome and engaging in daily mental exercises. And I would love to hear about your experiences with these practices! Share your thoughts in the reviews section, or tag me on instagram. and insights in the comments below, and don't hesitate to spread positivity by sharing this episode with your loved ones. Here's to exercising our minds and nurturing our microbiomes for a brighter, healthier mindset! I’ll be back next week!