Body Care, Nature’s Prozac

I told my boss to shove it!

I did.

He sent me an inquiry about something, I felt that his request was an unnecessary waste of my time so I responded by explicitly describing what I recommended he does with it.  When he called me to find out what was going on, I cried. That was on Friday. Late last week was rough for me. Had I been a cartoon character I would have had a dark, thundering cloud above my head. My emotional range was limited to two; angry and weepy.  Everything in my life was, had been and was going to be bleak. I declared to a friend that I was depressed. When she inquired about the cause, I answered honestly; “I don’t know, I just am”.

Fortunately, I identified the source of my dark mood soon after. My daughter has had a cold for almost two weeks now. Every night last week I would be awoken by an hour long coughing fit at around 3am. Last week I did not have a single night of uninterrupted sleep. I too had a cold I couldn’t shake so I had suspended my exercise regime. Sparkle and I had no appetite and couldn’t taste our food making me very lax about preparing decent meals. These are the factors that caused my meltdown; junk food, inadequate rest and lack of exercise. Many people are unaware of or disregard the impact their physical condition has on their moods.

We really do not take care of our bodies as much as we should, and often we are willing to pay the price which we consider to be extra centimetres, a lacklustre complexion and a lack of energy, but we seldom realise that we also pay with our emotional state. There are four main neurochemicals that affect mood; Serotonin, Dopamine, Epinephrine and Endorphin.  They are affected by, amongst other things, how much we exercise, what we eat and how well we rest.

Exercise has a positive effect on all four of these neurochemicals resulting in enhanced mood, and reduced anxiety, stress and depression. Food also acts on brain chemistry. We all know that we can go from frown to crown on a good bar of dark chocolate. This is because chocolate, the darker the better, stimulates the release of Serotonin, so do complex carbohydrates. Various foods impact the different neurochemicals, for instance Omega 3s are good for Endorphin levels, and protein stimulate the production of Dopamine and Epinephrine. On the other hand sugary, fatty carbohydrates found in junk food are more likely to repay you with memory loss and a depressed mood. Most junk food contains aspartame and msg, excitotoxins which have been linked to depression. Finally, lack of sleep depletes the mood regulating neurotransmitters, as a result sleep deprivation will make you short tempered and susceptible to depression.

Perhaps the physical consequences of our lifestyle may be subject to some cosmic lottery. We all have anecdotal evidence that ; “you never know what you are going to go from, Uncle Rush had a 40-a-day habit and lived to be a 100 and Mary the health nut was run over by a taxi while jogging”.  However, I guarantee you that your diet, rest and exercise habits are impacting your mood right now.

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