To Stay Young, Stay Curious (& Dozens Of Other Ways To Protect Your Brain)

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When nothing is sure,

Everything is possible.

– Margaret Drabble

 

This is what we are living in right now: nothing is sure.  But that also means: everything is possible!

Right now is the perfect time to open up to learning new things you never would have had the time or opportunity to learn before.  To shed old routines and consider what changes in your lifestyle, what changes to your career, and what changes to your health you might want to make after this pandemic is over, and to start learning new skills to prepare for it.

I truly believe that even with the stress of everything we are facing right now, we can still feel healthier than ever if we intentionally set up supportive, comforting and deeply healing health routines.

So all winter long, I’m going to be giving you a weekly blog post full of uplifting ways to improve your health, and every single idea is something you can do right in the comfort of your own home.  Social distancing approved.

It’s a new mini-series I’m releasing for you to help boost your health over these next three winter months.  Forward this newsletter to a friend or a family member so that they can take part in this healing mini-series with you!

The series so far has been:

 

Today, we are going to focus on keeping your mind open and brain sharp through learning.

There is actual medical evidence that the more you are self motivated when learning something, the better your brain works. One study found that the more curious you are, actually improves brain function! So to keep your mind active and alert, here are some ideas to consider:

 


 

 

 

 

Stay Curious

 

Published October 22, 2014 in Neuron, researchers found that having your own internal motivation, in the form of curiosity, allows your brain to have enhanced memory and function… allowing you to more quickly master the information you are trying to learn and even enhances your ability to remember non-related information alongside it!

Researchers could literally see the brain enhance function on MRI when the subject was highly curious about the material they were engaged in — showing that being curious about something literally changes the way the your brain functions, enhancing key parts of the brain such as the hippocampus and the dopaminergic circuit.

Curiosity about life in general enhances your experience of life itself, opening you up to new things and enhancing your ability to absorb it.  So it’s not as much about completing a task as directed, or rote memorization of material, or getting a specific test score on an exam in school that allows you to truly learn.

It’s about following your inner guidance system, engaging in your own innate curiosity, and allowing that to guide you in making educational and career choices that align your soul gifts with your occupation… so that what you are offering to this world is something that is perfect suit to you because you are self motivated to learn about it, master the material related and ancillary to it, and offering this unique vantage point that only you can offer back to the world.

In short, learning and processing and giving your thoughts back to the world becomes meaningful, instead of simply memorized.  That study shows that you are naturally suited to learn, retain and remember information that you are self selecting, motivated, and innately curious about it.

Need some help discovering (or re-discovering) your natural curiosity?  That’s normal, because the way our educational system and corporate work system is set up, it minimizes personal autonomy and creativity.

But you have it inside of you.  Watch this video for inspiration to give yourself permission to become curious again, and then keep reading below for links to tons of resources of fun, learning, and growth!

 

 


 

 

 

 

Learn A New Language

 

Now is literally the perfect time to daydream about future travel.  You could not pick a better time to explore what your future travel goals are than right now: you have time and space to research different cultures, time to create a personal travel bucket list, time to dream, envision, read books on the history of different cultures and different places in world, and maybe most importantly — time to learn the language before you even book the trip!

Today, start by journalling a few ideas on bucket list trips you may want to take one day.

Then, click on a link below to sign up for one of the many free language classes that are being offered online — there are literally thousands of different languages you can master.

This is also an amazing way to stay connected to your friends even while staying home more — not only can you both sign up for the online classes together, but you can call or FaceTime each other to practice speaking it out loud as you learn, and then you can have the fun of planning a future trip together for an immersive experience, visiting an area where your chosen language is spoken!  Win-win-win!

 

 


 

 

 

Reassess Your Career Goals

 

Stress on the job is such a real threat to your health that I think you should take it into account when figuring out your future.  One medical study shows that stress on the job might literally drive you crazy.  This study, published in Lancet Psychiatry on May 10, 2018, suggests that occupation alone might cause as many as one out of every 7 new cases of depression, anxiety, and other common mental disorders.

Even after adjusting for lifestyle factors, stressful life events, temperament, personality, family history and personal history of mental illness, researchers found that job strain alone was responsible for a statistically significant number of mental illness cases over a lifetime.  14% of all common mental disorders that onset in midlife was attributed purely to job stress.

Researchers looked at over 6,800 participants, ranking job strain at age 45 with risk of mental illness at age 50.  The results were astounding:

  • Having a job that is highly demanding increased mental diagnosis rates by 70%.
  • Having a job that causes high strain (moves at a fast pace, or is highly risky, for example) increased mental diagnosis rates by 220%.
  • Having a job in which the employee had very little control over decisions increased mental illness rates by 89%.
  • All in all, researchers estimate that simply having higher job stress increased the overall likelihood of subsequent mental illness significantly, accounting for 1 out of every 7 new cases of mental illness in midlife.

Forget the usually-thought-of triggers such as divorce, bereavement and serious medical issues… job strain alone can put you at significant risk for mental disorders.

What constitutes a stressful job?  A job that requires high intensity, a job that moves at a fast pace, a job that has high risk, a job that gives you very little control over your duties, and/or a job that doesn’t allow you to make your own decisions were all factors that contributed to job strain.

If you are thinking… yes my job is stressful but I really love it, unfortunately that’s not enough.  Job satisfaction was not protective of the strain that job stress can put on mental health.  Although ideally we would all have meaningful soul satisfying jobs… even when they are super fulfilling soul careers, they can actually still be toxic, stressful, high paced, and put us at high risk for mental illness.  And let’s face it, many times jobs simply are not in the slightest bit soul fulfilling at all and yet still are so stressful that they raise mental illness diagnosis, all for a job you don’t even enjoy.

But there are ways to help protect yourself and your mental state. Here are some ideas to help you decrease the negative effect of job stress on your health:

1.  Factor job strain into your career choices early on whenever possible:  If you have a family history or a personal history of mental illness, it is absolutely imperative that you protect your mental health by choosing jobs that give you autonomy, or at least allow you to participate in decision making. Or… if you want to work in a tightly regulated job field where you don’t get to have control over the decisions, then select a job where the pace is slow and relaxed and/or the job is low intensity, low stakes. If one out of every 7 cases of mental illness in midlife comes from having a stressful job, it is absolutely something to take into account when selecting between several possible career pathways.  Look for a job that allows you to be a part of the decision making process, or look for a job with lower intensity and a slower pace if you have an option and want to be protective of your mental health.

2.  Modify existing job parameters:  If you are already in a stressful job that you want to stay in, consider small ways to modify your current stress levels at work. There are three different ways you can lighten your job strain: increasing your autonomy (getting to make more job related decisions,) lightening the pace of the job, or lightning the demands on the job.  Even choosing just one way to modify your current work load, even just slight modification, can help reduce mental illness risk:

    • Ask to be part of decisions whenever possible… if there are committees to be involved in, if there are meetings you can speak up during, if there are opportunities for a leadership role — this study shows that even in a highly stressful job, having some sort of say in what decisions are made allows the job to cause less strain over all.
    • Negotiate terms whenever possible… not just the classic example of asking for a raise, but speaking up over anything you can… such as negotiating when you take a break, what shift you work, what snacks are stocked in the vending machine, or what the dress code is can help give you some say in your work day and reduce strain.
    • If you can’t make decision and you can negotiate terms, sharing the burden is another way to reduce job strain.  Asking for help, getting co-workers involved, turning individual tasks into group tasks, forming alliances, delegating and and all tasks that you can delegate — these are all ways to reduce job strain even in jobs that are highly stressful and where you have little control.

3.  Recover fully when not at work:  Create clear boundaries around time spent working vs. time spent not-working each day.  One of the worst habits you can get into is working on your time off.  I should know, doctors are the classic “on call” occupation but every doctor I know makes this occupational stress a hundred times worse by bringing work home even when not on call.  I have strained myself beyond capacity for years (decades actually) staying up in the middle of the night on my computer, returning emails from my phone at the wee hours of the morning, packing and shipping shop orders literally around the clock… I even worked all day when my appendix was rupturing, had emergency surgery in the middle of the night, and by the next day was back to packing up orders. Which was totally stupid, I know (I blog about this here.)  I not only risked delaying my healing process but I was still groggy from the surgical anesthesia so I mixed up quite a few of those orders, and then had the hassle of re-packing them.  I should have stayed in bed.  I know I am not alone.  In many — if not most — jobs these days, there really are no designated off hours since technology can reach us anywhere, and this can create a situation where there is no down time, no recovery time, no off time.  So you have to be proactive and protective to ensure — for your own mental health — that there absolutely *is* time off from work and time away from all work related activity.  If you are in a job that you can’t modify, can’t control, has high stress, and little autonomy, then the next best thing you can do to protect your mental and physical health is to make sure off hours are actually off hours.

    • Make it harder to access work related tasks… leave your computer at work (if you work from home, leave your computer in a designated *home office* space and do not bring it into the rest of the house!)
    • Put cell phones on airplane mode at night, or better yet turn them off completely.
    • Designate a cut off time in the evening where you will no longer check emails or return business related calls.
    • Prioritize sleep.
    • Make the sleep you do get more restorative by sleeping grounded.
    • Move your body in a non-job related way: exercise, stretch, get into a yoga routine, go on a long walk, have sex, even simple taking a hot bath in Epsom salts will help soothe tense muscles and get you out of “work mode.”
    • Read a book that is absolutely 100% simply for pleasure and *not work related!!!*. I’m the worst at this because I typically read medical journals before bedtime instead of romance or mystery novels but this is one of my new goals.
    • Schedule time for leisure activities — from a designated weekly movie night to a routine family date to time alone — off time is so crucial for balancing out the stress from your job and should be given the same weight (or even more weight) than your dedication to your career.
    • Take time for friendships and relationships that are not in any way work related.  Consider this… are most of your relationships with people in the same work place or career path as you?  Be sure to go out of your way to nurture friendships and relationships that have nothing to do with work at all — if you have to join a knitting club or a book club or sign up for a gym class or introduce yourself to your neighbors — meet people that it would be literally impossible to “talk shop” with in your down time because they do not work with you.  Having outside interests and outside relationships apart from work helps ensure you don’t think about or talk about work in your off time.
    • Take vacation time — up to 1/3 of all vacation days are simply never even used!!!!  What the…?  No way.  Please take those vacation days, every single one of them.

4.  Be proactive about protecting your mental health in other ways:  Particularly if you know you have high job strain, you want to be sure you are eating foods, taking supplements, staying well hydrated, sleep well, and many other things you can do — even if you can’t modify your current job in the slightest — that will boost your mental health.  To that end, here are more blog posts I’ve written for you on holistic ways to support your mental health:

 

Are you convinced yet about finding ways to either tweak your current job or start envisioning a new one?

Now is absolutely the time to take an online class or two that will help you discover the job of your dreams.  Literally anything you can imagine, you can take a free online class in. From learning how to code for a new career in IT, to learning how to market or run your own business online (even courses that help you set up your website and newsletter lists) to taking culinary classes online, taking classes that prepare you for a trade. Classes like: sewing, clothing design, upholstery skills, dog breeding, pharmacy technician, auto mechanic, massage techniques, acupuncture classes, herbalism, lash extension training, eyebrow waxing — I mean literally, you name it, you can learn it, and you can use this stay-at-home time to get a leg up on it!

Here are some places to explore free online classes, to get you started:

 


 

 

Take An Online Health Class (With Me!)

 

I’ve got several health classes coming up in the next few months — keeping you feeling uplifted, supported and inspired all spring long, with classes in February, March, April and May.  Here is a list of my next 4 classes:

 

 

 

 

February 15th: Trauma Healing Online Class

 

I start this class the day after Valentines day because I can’t think of a better way to practice self love than to deeply focus on your own healing.  As a holistic physician, not only have I scoured the medical literature for positive, actionable ways to help our bodies and minds heal from stressful, unavoidable trauma, but I share detailed ways to guide you through your own healing (along with both personal and patient examples from my past 20 years of medical practice.)

No matter what you have gone through, you absolutely do have the ability to rebound from from it and create a new normal and a new health set point.  Every body does.  Your body naturally wants to trend back to full and complete wellness… mind, body and spirit.  I’ll give you the tools to get there.

This class has been hugely helpful in giving participants actionable, positive, enjoyable healing tools that are medically based and proven to work.  One participant who just took my online classes said that the content on the very first day of the class alone far exceeded what she thought she would get out of the entire class, all put together.  Another participant said she felt movement on old stuck traumas from childhood for the first time in her entire life.  Another said that even though he had been in treatment for PTSD for years, he learned things he had never been told before about how the body holds on to trauma and how to let it go.  I would love to support you in this exact same way as well.  Join me here.

 

 

 

March 8: Earth Relief Online Class.

 

Now is exactly when we need the healing support of the earth most of all.  Grounding will help you keep your immunity high, your inflammation low, reduce stress, deepen sleep, and boost your mood, throughout this pandemic and beyond.  I developed this class to give you tons and tons of ways to incorporate grounding into your daily health care and wellness routines, so that no matter where you live — yard or no yard, urban or rural — you can find ways to stay connected to the earth.

Every single day you will get a new, uplifting, inspiring way to ground your body and support your innate health through grounding, even if you are stuck at home and socially distancing yourself during this pandemic.  Now, more than ever, is the time to deepen your relationship to the earth and turn to Mother Earth to directly support your health.  No matter what distance you need to keep from others, no matter how bored you might be by now, no matter what health stressors you are going through, and no matter how much or little resources you have at hand, the one resource you can always count on is support from the earth.

Our planet offers you so many different ways to stay healthy and strong, from the air you breathe to the water you drink to the food that we eat to the land that supports our homes, cars, communities and life as we know it to thrive… but the most direct way to get support from the earth is to touch it directly through grounding. Join me in this two week course and get materials, tips, and ideas for grounding that you can use again and again and again, for the rest of your life.  Join me here.

 

 

 

March 22nd:  Weight Release & Reset Online Class

 

Your spring tune-up, right from the comfort of your own home!  In this 5 day online class, I’ll walk you through the 5 pillars of sustainable, feel-good weight loss.  I’ve based this course directly off of the positive take-aways from recent medical literature on metabolism and weight, as well as on my 20 years of experience helping to support my patients with their weight loss goals.

I’m excited to offer this class to support a health weight, not the lowest weight.  You’d be surprised that your body naturally knows what weight is the perfect one for you, and it can sustain it at this perfect weight effortlessly once you naturally align your metabolism.  I’ll show you how in a very non-threatening, supportive, uplifting way.  It’s not about being rigid or militant or hard on yourself, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.  The harder you are on yourself, the harder it is to align with your healthiest version of you.

It’s not even about your diet and exercise plan — there are actually three other things that are even more important than what you eat and how you move… and without knowing what those three things are, you just can’t lose weight.  Understand the three things that sabotage weight loss and include those in your plan, and the weight releases, naturally.   Join me here.

 

 

 

April 5th: Chakra Healing Online Class

 

This is such a powerful, healing, information rich, uplifting (and completely fun!!!) way to align your chakras from root to crown.  And even if you don’t know what that means, I’m going to teach you.  And show you.  And get you in touch with your own unique energy flow!

A 7 week long course… we spend one week together on each of your seven chakras: taking a self assessment of how your energy is flowing in that particular chakra, activating and opening that chakra, journalling and doing exercises to expand and heal that chakra, yoga poses and food suggestions to support that particular chakra, meditations to radiate and strengthen that chakra, culminating in a Q&A live Zoom meeting to go over all of your chakra related questions.

There is nothing like this anywhere else on earth — truly.  I support you throughout this entire healing process… you will literally leave this experience transformed from the inside out, head to toe.  Join me here.

 

 


 

Not up for a full class but still want to focus on your health?

 

I have some free ebooks for you here:

 

Or you could:

 


 

 

 

More Tips To Help You Protect Your Brain:

 


 

To Summarize:

 

Today let’s reevaluate what direction we want our life to go in… it’s the perfect time to hit a reset button on the trajectory of our career and to learn new things.  From developing a bucket list of places you may like to travel one day and learning a new language to get you prepared, to focusing on career development or physical health to keep your brain supple and young, you can take online classes for just about anything!

And be sure you are signed up to receive my free newsletter so you don’t miss any of these uplifting holistic healing tips I send out each week.  If someone forwarded you this email so you could join in on this health routines mini-series with them, you can sign up on my homepage to get these tips delivered directly to your own inbox by clicking right here:

 

 

To your naturally resilient, astoundingly incredible human body!

xoxox, Laura