Today’s solocast topic is: Boosting Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being
I think that it’s been a really challenging past few months and year in general for a lot of us, just because so much has gone on and our lives have shifted so much with COVID. There are a lot of unknowns, and there’s just a lot of different stress out there. More than ever, we really need to tune into our feelings, our emotions, and our mental health.
It’s easy to get caught up and just focus on what we’re eating and how we’ve shifted our exercise routines because of the virus, that we’re in quarantine, and we’re home a lot more. However, the other side of that is really taking care of the inner space. This whole part of wellness, our emotions, our mind and how we feel, which has a really big effect on our bodies and on our hormones. It also has an effect on our fertility, our digestion, our peace and our joy and just all these different parts of our lives.
I think just the simple awareness and talking about it right now is part of boosting it. If we don’t acknowledge that this is such an important part of self-care and of taking care of ourselves, then we don’t really get to move forward and make a difference in our lives. And we all deserve that.
Topics Covered In Boosting Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being
#1. Focusing on sleep and how it’s related to the body
#2. Mediation and how it’s connected to our emotional state
#3. Journaling and validation that comes from it
#4. Community and ways to connect with social distancing
#5. Exercise and how it crosses over into our mental and emotional wellbeing
#6. How to be discerning when it comes to social media and the news
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- Additional resources in transcript
Other Podcasts you may enjoy!:
- Restoring Your Health and Wellbeing with Dr. Taz
- Acknowledging and Releasing Emotional Wounds
- Getting Over Emotional Barriers
- Managing Heightened Emotions
Additional Research Resources:
- Mental Health By the Numbers
- Emotional Well-Being and Coping During COVID-19
- Emotional wellbeing and its relation to health
- Sleep and mental health
- Overnight Therapy? The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Processing
- Meditation: In Depth
- The writing cure: How expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being
- The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis
- Exercise Benefits Brain Function: The Monoamine Connection
- Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis
- Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study
- Online Social Networking and Mental Health
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Hey Beauties, welcome back to our Monday Solocast podcast, where our topic today is Boosting Your Mental and Emotional Well-being. And I really wanted to talk about this topic today, because I just want to get it out in the open. I think that it’s been a really challenging past few months and year in general for a lot of us, just because so much has gone on and our lives have shifted so much with COVID, and there’s just a lot of unknowns, and there’s just a lot of different stress out there. And more than ever, we really need to tune into our feelings, and our emotions, and our mental health. And it’s easy to get caught up and just focusing on what we’re eating and how we’ve shifted our exercise routines because of the virus, and because that we’re in quarantine and we’re home a lot more, but the other side of that is really taking care of the inner space of our, again, just this whole part of wellness, our emotions, our mind, how we feel, which has a really big effect on our bodies, it has an affect on our hormones, it has an effect on our fertility, and our digestion, and our peace and our joy and just all these different parts of our lives.
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All right, let’s talk about boosting your emotional wellbeing. So first of all, I think just the simple awareness and talking about it right now is part of boosting it. I think if we don’t acknowledge that this is such an important part of self care and of taking care of ourselves, then we don’t really get to move forward. We don’t get to make a difference in our lives. And we all deserve that. It’s the reason that when I was creating our Solluna four cornerstones, emotional wellbeing is right there, it’s number three. And remember guys, these aren’t in an order. It’s not that number three means number one is best, it just means when I’m talking about what the cornerstones are is one of them I will say.
It’s food, body, food and body, and emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth. So if we ignore one, let’s say we aren’t taking care of our feelings and our mental health, we tend to really obsess over another one. So usually it’s the physical ones. Usually we start to obsess about food, or our bodies, or exercise routines, or what we’re doing, and we start to get caught up in that. And then we don’t get the result and we don’t feel as good. We keep pushing, we keep thinking there’s something we’re missing, maybe it’s another food we’re missing, or maybe it’s this next recipe that we have to get to, or maybe we’ll get there when we lose the next 10 pounds, but that’s really not it. It’s more about spreading out, widening our perspective of wellness, and taking a much more balanced approach.
Right now this is from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they found that one in five US adults are experiencing mental illness every year, and in the youth, which is considered from ages six to 17, there’s one in six experiencing a mental health disorder this year. Mental health issues are anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress syndrome, OCD. These are some of the most common ones. So when you guys think about that one in five, one in six, that’s really, really a lot of us that are in this boat. So if you’re experiencing any level on the spectrum of those sorts of mental disorders, just please know you are not alone. You are not in this boat by yourself, a lot of this is happening. And so take some comfort in that, that again, especially right now with what’s going on, and the changes this year, this is something that a lot of us are facing.
Research out of USCF’s Weill Institute for Neurosciences also found that wellbeing is suffering across the board as a result of COVID-19 with more people than ever experiencing panic, grief, anxiety, cognitive stress. So many different aspects of this are affecting our state of wellness mentally, and according to the British Medical Journal, epidemiological studies have shown that social and emotional support can help protect against premature mortality, prevent illness, and aid recovery.
Again, I think most of us were raised in this sort of idea of compartmentalizing different parts of our life. I know I was, where it was okay, here’s the food, and I’m going to focus on eating well, and this is health. And then we all need to exercise, and then we’re going to take care of our bodies, and take showers, and wash our hair, and do all these different things, but the idea of putting mental health in that same bucket, wasn’t really something that I started to do until much, much later in life. Actually until recently, when I was creating these cornerstones and going through my own journey and really noticing the times when I was stressed, and in my head, and shamed, or feeling resentful, or feeling different emotions. What happened to my weight gain? What happened to my body? What happened to my bloating? And it was something that really started to click for me, just when I started to click the idea that digestion had such an effect on my acne and on my weight gain, this is the same thing. This wellbeing started to really put everything together, and it started to make me realize, wow, talking about this, this could be the missing link for you to, and why you’re not getting the results that you want, and why you’re not feeling your best day to day.
#1. Tip: Focus on sleep and how it’s related to the body
The first tip I have for you, the first tool that we really want to focus on is sleep. And this falls into our body cornerstone, everything related to the body that doesn’t have to do with food is in this cornerstone. But again, everything is so interconnected, this also has a huge impact on your mental state. Ask any new mom with a newborn who is up all night feeding her baby, nursing her baby, because the baby’s crying and the sleep, it goes out the window, will understand very well how much of an impact sleep has on our mental health. In fact, in an article published by Harvard showing how poor sleep can lead to mental health decline, and it comes at no surprise, but increase the risk for bipolar disorder, ADHD, and other mental illnesses.
On the other hand, studies report that deep sleep, also known as REM sleep, enhances learning and memory, and boosts our ability to regulate mood disturbances and process emotions in our brain. This is just a very practical baseline tool here is if you find yourself staying up later, because you’re on Netflix, and you don’t have to get up at a certain time to get to the office, and your whole schedule has shifted because of COVID, please still honor your evening routine. Please use blue light blocking glasses, make an effort to turn off the TV a little bit earlier, do some sort of meditation or sitting gratitude practice before you go to bed. Take a warm shower, let your body wind down. The quality of your sleep is very important right now because it’s so linked to your mental health. So give yourself that gift. It’s going to feel so good if you sleep better and you really nourish your body with proper rest.
#2. Tip: Mediation and how it’s connected to our emotional state
My next tip for you, again, is something that we’ve talked about before, but it’s amazing how much, [inaudible] we need to hear things a couple of times, and it’s amazing how much these different cornerstones are interlinked and the different properties between each one. So this is one of my favorite things, maybe my most favorite activity to do, which is meditation. And there’s so much research out there right now, I want to point out one from the National Center of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine that suggests that meditation, this is quite studied in their trials, does reduce anxiety, depression, and insomnia. I like how they say it suggests, because of course, medical language has to be very careful and to cover the basis. But again, for any of us that have tried meditation and you start to get into sitting and being, it really starts to break that pattern of this feeling like we’re doing all the time and we have to rush around, and it starts to honor just presence. It starts to say being here, being really present right now is important enough. I don’t have to add on to this. I don’t need to do anything else. Being is enough. And that’s pretty revelatory for a lot of us that is so used to just filling our time.
Meditation is in our fourth spiritual, it’s in our fourth cornerstone, which is spiritual growth, but it’s connected to our emotional state, because when we’re anchored into ourself, when we feel that security coming from within, when we feel calm, it is a wonderful way to also regulate our moods and our emotions, and to be able to take a step back from them and observe, because that’s really what we’re doing in meditation is we are just allowing space and observing our thoughts, letting them rise and fall. And when we start to do that, it means that we don’t have to identify so closely with our emotions when we feel like, “Oh my gosh, I am this grief. I am this anger. I don’t know how I’m going to get out of it. It feels so strong. It’s so overwhelming.” That’s when we start to really feel stress building and our bodies and our minds.
But again, when we break that cycle, when we can sit back in meditation, it allows this natural eb and flow of our emotions to take place without being so invested in it. It means we don’t take our emotions as seriously, because the reality is that we are meant to feel all these emotions, but we’re not meant to hold onto them, which is what a lot of us do. We push it down. We distract, we just repress and suppress and build it up in our bodies, and then it starts to come out in inflammation, and diarrhea, and insomnia, and all these different things.
So meditation is this clear space. It teaches us to sit and to feel and to be. And that is a skill that we take into our day, we take into our lives so that we are able to feel our emotions. And again, not be so scared of them that we push them down and actually keep them in longer. We don’t excessively hold onto them, but we feel them deeply, and then we let them go.
#3. Tip: Journaling and validation that comes from it
My next technique is on journaling, which I do love. And I have my journal right here next to me. I don’t know what I would do without journaling you guys. I love it. I am a writer, so I am very drawn to the written word, but I love writing by hand. I feel cleansed. I feel empowered. I feel I can say whatever I want to say. And it’s okay, and I think that ability, that level of awareness and freedom is incredible for combating stress, because stress to me, I feel stressed when I feel helpless. I feel like I’m not being heard. I feel like there’s no way out. But with journaling, even if it’s a small step, even if nobody else sees it, the fact that I put it on paper and I get it out of me, it just feels like a declaration. It feels like this…
Again, just this action of empowerment. Like I feel this, and this is real for me and I’m writing it down. So there’s this validation that comes from it. It’s soothing. It’s incredible. So, I mean, you can literally get yourself a $5 journal, and give yourself that gift, again, of freedom, of soothing, of de-stressing. Just as simple as writing things down and acknowledge. It’s just a form of self acknowledgement.
I am very much pro-journaling. I think it can be, it doesn’t have to look a certain way, but you can do it a couple of minutes a day, maybe in the morning, maybe in the evening, maybe it’s part of your evening routine. For me, it’s in the morning because I like to set the tone of my day, and I like to get things out and notice anything that’s still lingering around. I like to squash it. I like to squash it as far as address it I mean, I don’t squash those feelings, but I acknowledge and that feels good. And sometimes I journal in the evening, but for me, it’s more of my morning practice that I like to do. So see whatever works for you.
#4. Tip: Community and ways to connect with social distancing
Next thing is community. And it has been more challenging of course, keeping up community in traditional ways because we are social distanced. But I will say that because of Zoom, because of this ability to have online chats, that’s really nice. That’s really comforting. That has kept me connected to quite a few people. And we have a pod. So maybe that’s something you’ve already explored within your community, within your family, and your family’s friends, or your kids’ friends, but there’s three other families that I trust and I know that they’re being really safe and careful, and I will meet with the the moms. We do keep outside, we do keep social distanced, and we’re not hugging or doing anything like that, but it is nice on occasion to go down to the beach and to see other humans.
So again, if it’s a small pod where everybody’s discussed it’s on the table how everybody’s being careful with COVID of course. That can feel nice, but you may not be ready for that. Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, but all the other ways of keeping it going, even if it’s a group text, just seeing that in your phone, and hearing from other humans can feel so nice.
This is a 2017 meta analysis conducted from 64 separate studies. This is from Iran, interesting, I don’t read too many studies from there, but this one came from Iran. They found a high correlation between social support and positive mental health. And that groups benefited from more social support, especially women, and especially the elderly. So I think this idea of community first started getting talked about when people were looking, or at least when I first started hearing about it, was when people were talking about the Mediterranean diet, and eating together, and sharing the social space and just how healthy and how wonderful that was.
And so I’m really glad that people are, you know, we’re talking about it, are talking about it to an extent, but I think sometimes we feel isolated, we get in our head and we think, “Oh, am I going to bother anybody if I bring this up? Or is this something that… Is this something that I can talk about?” And the answer is, yes. The answer is being real, and being vulnerable, and connecting with people is so healing, and it gives them the space to do it as well. And so, you want to gravitate towards people that you feel that safety with, and you have that ability to get into that vulnerable, safe space. And maybe you have it now, maybe you need to seek it out, but it’s definitely there for you. It’s something that you definitely deserve. I think it’s a very important part of wellness.
Think about community, take a little inventory right now, who is your community? What is your community? It could be your biological family. Maybe it’s a circle of chosen family members, some friends. We also have our online Solluna Circle. It could be more of a public space like that, where maybe you meet more like minded souls, and you connect with them frequency-wise. So I definitely encourage you to just take a little inventory. And this is something you need to work on, and build up. You can do that today. You can do that from a digital space. You can seek that out online. Of course, we have many resources for you, the Solluna Circle, which I just mentioned here, the podcast, I consider this a great community, and just having voices coming into your space, positive voices, I think is great. We’re also going start having you guys submit your questions for the Thursday Q&A show over voice text. And that way I can hear your voice and everybody else can too. And so I’m really excited about that.
It could be Facebook groups, whatever it is, just really seek out community, find solace in that, make it a priority, make it part of your week. For me, the text chains are something that I really love to connect with. I do, again like the written word, so I appreciate that. And then, seeing people from time to time, it also feels good too. And then just my family is also my community. Moses is here on my lap, but I don’t like to put, I try not to put too much on him, but I do really like talking to hubby and hearing his take on things, and downloading my feelings with hubby. So it’s nice sometimes to have that builtin roommate, partner, husband, whatever that is that you can really find community with right in your own home, your own space, that’s available to you. If not, then however you create community, go about and do that.
#5. Tip: Exercise and how it crosses over into our mental and emotional wellbeing
Now, the next one for a mental and emotional wellbeing, my next tool is to walk/exercise. Again, this is about intention. So you may say to me, “Wait, but exercise is part of the body cornerstone.” Yes, but if our intention here is to build emotional wellbeing, again there’s crossover, there can be physical parts of that, and there is so much research about how exercise can boost, of course it boosts oxygen and blood flow to the brain. So it is great for brain power, it’s great for stress, it’s great for just feeling energized. And anytime we feel energized, and we have movement and flow, we get stagnation going again, we bring fresh energy. This is going to also benefit your mind. So it’s like a flow is flow, right? Energies flow. So it’s going to help. Oh, excuse Moses. That was a big little burp here. That was definitely not me, but hope you guys don’t want a little baby burp. He’s smiling at me right now, he’s so beautiful. I wish you guys could see his little face right now.
But yes, the intention. So for me, I don’t exercise anymore. This is what feels right to me. I don’t push and do crazy workouts just because my body doesn’t, I just don’t feel like I need that. You may be someone that loves your high intensity training workouts. It feels really good to your body. Everybody’s body is different. So for me, I’m not trying to, you know, I don’t use exercise trying to get super toned or super muscular, lose a bunch of weight. There have been periods of my life where I have used exercise for that, but that’s just not in the mode I’m in right now.
I like to exercise by walking. I like to hold Moses and to be able to go for a walk. And for me, it’s the act of getting outside, getting in fresh air and moving my body, feeling just energized from that. And so if I don’t, the days that I don’t walk, I do start to feel kind of pent up and I notice that I get a little bit more snappy and it’s easier for me to feel stressed and thrown off. So exercise is something that is important in the ways that feel good to you to maintain and to keep up.
Of course, there’s a lot of research on this. I will just call out one interesting study, this is from the Journal for Complementary and Integrative Medicine and it found that exercise can actually increase GABA levels, which is an amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain, and this actually helps to reduce anxious feelings and to improve your overall mood. So it’s actually measured. It’s measurable as far as, again, to the level of subatomic particles and neuro-transmitters, which I think is really wonderful for the discerning mind. I like to go, again, my primary thing is how I feel, and we know just how much our moods benefit and we can experience that, but it’s nice to have the science behind it as well.
You want to get out, you want to exercise, especially now because we’re just going to fewer places, and we do need to keep a social distance. So of course, do it being safe, of course, and wear your mask. But it’s a good idea to get outside. It’s beautiful for a lot of us, and it’s hot, but September is generally a beautiful month, hopefully for you as well, no matter where you live. And you can benefit so much from being in nature and moving your body. It’s going to really benefit your mind.
#6. Tip: How to be discerning when it comes to social media and the news
And so my next and final tip for you is to be discerning with the news and social media. A study linked prolonged use of social media with mental health issues, such as low self esteem, internet addiction, and depression. Another study in the British Journal of Psychology found that consuming negative news on TV could increase levels of anxiety, worry, and sadness. Now I mean, these are quite obvious I think if you pay attention to being on there all the time can feel draining. Of course, in the news, there’s a lot of negativity, a lot of just disturbing events. So it’s not that you want to be in a bubble and not know anything that’s going on, but I also find that flooding yourself with news and getting all the alerts doesn’t help, it doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t make the world a better place. You as an individual getting immersed in the news, it’s not really helping. And we need you, you are unique, amazing contribution. So everybody’s energy’s important. So yes, you want to be informed, but like I’ve always said, if it doesn’t feel good, you don’t have to be a slave to it.
Guess what? TV doesn’t feel good to me. The news doesn’t feel good to me. So I look at headlines and I generally see what’s going on, but I don’t like to watch it. And with social media, I definitely have the times I’m on it, but it’s not all day. I don’t get alerts, because I don’t like the flow of the rest of my day being disturbed by what other people are doing. Right? So I check in, and I honor it, I like to see, but not as a consistent dribble all the time, which again can throw you off. Especially your creative projects and that’s not good for your mental health. I think that our emotions are boosted with passion and with getting excited, because we’re meant to feel connected, and passion to me is just like we’re so connected to something inside of us that we’re bringing forth that we’re really passionate about, a hobby, or an interest, or a cause, and we feel connected to it.
Focusing on that, which is another tool altogether, we could call that a separate one is focus on your passion, means you’re living your life. And if you get too caught up in what other people are living, and what they’re doing on social media, it means that you’re taking this back seat. And I don’t think that feels good emotionally, because we’re meant to be these dynamic thriving creatures. So it sort of goes against what we know and is our inner truth. Living with passion, living our fullest lives. So check out some or all of these, you see which ones resonated the most with you on maintaining and elevating your mental health. Again, it is… Let me run through them.
Mosey’s getting a little bit fussy, so we’re going to wrap up here, but again, it’s focusing on your sleep, finding the space and the time to meditate. Remember we also have free guided meditations for you if you need some help getting started. Journaling to really be authentic and to let your emotions out. Seeking out community as much as you can in the ways that feel good to you, exercising with the intention for reducing stress, with the intention for mental wellbeing. So this may be different than your hardcore workout. Maybe it’s your hardcore workout for your body, and for your muscles, but maybe you take a walk, and you exercise, and move your body in that way for your emotional space. It could be different, but have the attention for that. And then really being discerning with media and social media and [inaudible] your passions.
I will end on that note. One of my passions is being a mom, and this beautiful baby on my lap right now. And one of my passions is also being with you guys. So us sharing photos, our community, being here all together. I think this is such an important topic. I want you to feel amazing. So please do honor your own mental wellbeing, your own emotional space. Remember that you deserve to feel all your feelings. You deserve to feel what you feel. So don’t try to shut down. Don’t try to pretend that feelings aren’t there. Experience the range of you, and an honor that.
Thank you so much for tuning in. I send you all my love from out here in California. Big, big virtual hugs. I will see back here Thursday for our next Q&A podcast. Til then, take care. Lots and lots of love, and see you back here soon.