By Guest Blogger: April Williams
Have you ever wanted to do something a little wild? Something daring and out of the norm? Something that you know would shock the socks off of people and just about the time you feel the nerve to let loose and go for it your old nemesis fear shows up right on time to spoil the party?
There are many times during the course of our lives when we hold ourselves back from doing the things we really want to do because it doesn’t fit what society would consider "normal" (whatever that means, right?) We limit ourselves and plague our minds with worry that our actions will result in social labeling from the people around us.
We live our lives according to a set of rules that dictate how one should behave in order not to be labeled as weird, awkward or the rule breaker.
When the reality is that each of us were created to be unique. A one of a kind. We were not meant to fit into a one size fits all box. So why limit ourselves just because the majority refuses to understand our journey? Why allow ourselves to become a victim of the status quo?
The good news is we don't have to when we choose to accept our worth and let go of the need to conform to the flavor of the month social standards.
Here are 3 tips to help you live life more boldly, freely and fearlessly.
1. Self Acceptance and Core Values
First things first, you need to bravely own who you are and stop seeing yourself as broken. Like a snowflake there is not another soul walking the earth who is you.
You are like a rare gem that is hard to appraise so right here, right now in this moment its time to own your worth. Being different and thinking differently is a wonderful thing. When you boldly walk in your truth, you know exactly what is important in your life and those values become non-negotiable.
2. Blessing and Releasing Judgement
We are all human with feelings and emotions and therefore its natural to be sensitive to what other people think of us. Negative judgments, gossip and criticism can be hurtful so not caring what other people think can be easier said than done.
But, when you know what you value and embrace that being unique is a gift, not some curse, you can bless and release the negative energy that people bring into your space uninvited. You can walk more fearlessly paving your own path because you know exactly what you stand for. Like a deep rooted tree that is hard to break, you will know how to say no and stand your ground.
Unless your actions or behavior is hurting you or others, what other people think of you is none of your business. Literally.
3. Ruffling Feathers Is Not The End Of The World
Breaking free from the masses and challenging the status quo is not a situation of if you will ruffle feathers but when.
There will be situations that arise where you will upset people who wear their feelings on their shoulders and view your actions as some kind of rebellious act against them. The world is full of habitual rule followers but their resistance to change and unwillingness to support your path is their problem not yours.
The important thing is to not take their feedback to heart. You can always be kind while ruffling feathers knowing that you don't need their approval or validation because at the end of the day the world needs more change makers and less people pleasers.
Life was meant to be lived to the fullest. Stay confident in being who you are and fearless in doing things the way you want to do them. Some will judge you, some will get you but others will follow your lead and how amazing would it be to inspire someone else to live their life a little more wild and free.
Written exclusively for Liquido by April Williams as part of our Bold, Fearless and Free campaign.
April Williams is a Creative Momista of 2 boys + freelance writer + Texas country girl who loves green mint tea + horses + fuzzy socks + peppermint anything + the color red + cozy coffee shops. She is a branding strategist for creative women entrepreneurs and founder of Creative Brandista.Pinterest: @creativemomistaFacebook: @creativebrandista
Guest Blogger: Lauren Taus
*Photograph by @dtufino_photo
We kept hugging, each of us deeply touched by the presence and the work of the other. I called Berni my “Hermana” and promised to see her again sometime. We felt happy and connected. This afternoon of work in a local community center was a salient highlight of the recent #TausTribe yoga retreat I led in Tulum, Mexico, and I’m certain my students feel the same.
We didn’t know what to expect when we boarded taxis at the beautiful beachfront resort for town, but within minutes, Berni, the director of the place, had us elbow deep in spicy chicken tamale filling. We must have made 100 tamales to feed the 40-65 locals that come for food everyday, and when we finished that project, we went on to teach her – all in Spanish – about composting for the garden.
*Photograph by @dtufino_photo
Berni told me that no foreigners come to her center, and our desire to bring our support meant the world to her. It meant the world to me too, to all of us. When we finished our work, we loitered outside, playing with her son, eating brightly colored jello out of small plastic cups, and snapping selfies (some of which she posted on her FaceBook page).
Before arriving in Mexico, I knew I wanted to include a community service component in my Thanksgiving retreat. I emailed the staff at the resort months’ prior for ideas, and they were slow to respond. I passed their delay off as busyness, but later learned that I was the first group leader to make such a request. My heart sank. Service should be normative, not exceptional, especially among yogis!
*Photograph by @dtufino_photo
Seva or service is a cornerstone to the yoga lifestyle because it helps individuals transcend the egoic self. When we are in service to others, we experience connection, compassion and empathy. We more quickly move out of our own little dramas, and into more empirical wellness. Studies demonstrate that people who volunteer have higher overall mental health and longevity than those who do not. The benefits of volunteering have been found to be greater than taking up exercise, attending religious services and even greater than giving up smoking. I look forward to integrating service in future retreats, and I hope you’ll join me in one!
*Photograph by @dtufino_photo
As we move into the season of festive parties, gifts and all around excess, remember to find ways to give back to those in need. You know it helps, but sometimes you need a reminder. I know I do. This doesn’t mean you need to make any radical changes. I’m certainly eager to throw on a cocktail dress and sip champagne in the city, but my happiness depends far more on giving to others than on living the good life, and so does yours.
Lauren Taus is a writer, a life coach and a yoga instructor. She firmly believes in the mind-body connection, and in the ability for an improvement in one to benefit the other. Lauren helps her clients to develop the skills they need to make health and happiness easy in a complex world.
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Chronic stress sends us into fight-or-flight mode, in which the hormones cortisol and adrenaline flood our body. Heart rate, breath, and blood pressure increase and we get a surge of glucose into the bloodstream to use for energy. Blood flow moves to our extremities (our arms and legs) so that we can flee danger. It flows away from the digestive system, which is not considered necessary for immediate survival and actually takes a lot of energy to run.
This response is great if we need to escape a dangerous situation but not so great if we're simply stressed out about deadlines or finances. Lack of blood flow (and therefore oxygen) to the digestive system slows function, which means poor digestion, nutrient absorption, and elimination (constipation).
Yoga can be a fabulous tool to unwind and detach from stress. In fact, 60 minutes of yoga has been found to significantly increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) — aka the "chilled" amino acid — levels in the brain.
GABA is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that works directly on the brain to calm the mind and enhance mood. It does this by regulating noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. GABA functions as a brake on the neural circuitry during stress and relaxes the muscles; slows heart rate and breathing; and reduces anxiety, tension, and insomnia.
What we eat influences our mood. To understand how food can enhance feelings of happiness and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, let's look at the common drivers of poor mental health:
- Inflammation and oxidative stress
- Hormone imbalance
- Insulin resistance
- Gut dysbiosis
- Psychosocial (loneliness, life challenges/stress, lack of meaning and purpose)
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
Generally, foods rich in B vitamins support the nervous system and reduce stress, so the purpose of this article is to introduce you to other foods that nourish the mind that you may not have thought of.
There's a communication system between the gut and brain called the gut-brain axis. The vagus nerve at the center of the axis connects the neurons in the gut with the brain.
A healthy, diverse gut microbiome (gut flora) directly affects this communication and contributes to a happy, healthy mood.
Many disorders of the mind and behavior such as anxiety, depression, autism, and schizophrenia are influenced by the gut microbiome.
Gut bacteria influence mood by:
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
- Improving blood sugar balance
- Making 90 percent of the body's serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for a healthy mood, sense of calm, optimism, sleep, appetite, and healthy gastric motility (bowel movements)
- Producing and responding to other chemicals that the brain uses, which regulate sleep, stress, and relaxation, such as melatonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and GABA
- Improving the strength and health of intestinal walls, preventing leaky gut, and reducing inflammation by maintaining the tight junctions between the cells in the lining of these walls
Probiotics are living bacteria that restore and renew our gut microbiomes. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium increase GABA in the gastrointestinal system and help decrease anxiety and stress. Lactobacillus rhamnosus helps lower the stress hormone cortisol.
Lactobacillus pentosus from fermented cabbage (kimchee) improves mental function and BDNF production, which is important for behavior, learning, and memory. Avoid pasteurized, store-bought varieties and those made with added sugar.
Good food sources of probiotics are:
- fermented vegetables
- kombucha tea
- apple cider vinegar
Onions contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are phytonutrients that enhance the function of GABA.
Flavonoids are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory activity, and inflammation and oxidative stress are characteristic traits of mental health disorders.
Other plant-based foods rich in flavonoids are nuts, seeds, fruits (berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears), most vegetables, herbs, spices, black and green tea, cocoa, wine, chamomile flowers, linden flowers, and passionflower.
Green and black tea
Contains theanine, an amino acid that increases GABA levels within the brain and alpha "relaxation" brain waves.
Theanine increases dopamine, serotonin, and glycine in the brain. These neurotransmitters are important for a healthy mood, pleasure, quality sleep, and prevention and reduction of anxiety and depression.
Pu-erh tea is a fermented tea originally from China. It contains GABA, which has an anti-anxiety effect.
Pu-erh protects the nervous system from excitotoxins. Excitotoxins overstimulate neuron receptors. Brain cells communicate with one another with the help of neuron receptors. When overstimulated they become exhausted, which can alter our mood, sleep, and behavior.
Chamomile has been shown to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. It contains volatile oils and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Chamomile has a sedating effect due to the flavonoid apigenin and other compounds that bind to GABA receptors in the brain.
Lemon balm increases GABA activity and decreases cortisol. When cortisol is raised it can contribute to stress, anxiety, depression, and poor sleep.
4. Wild-caught oily fish
Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect on brain tissue. Inflammation in the brain affects serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA levels and contributes to oxidative stress.
Omega-3 fish oil supplementation has been shown to reduce depression in as little as 21 days. EPA and DHA play a role in serotonin production, release, and function in the brain. Low levels of EPA/DHA contribute to depression and brain dysfunction.
EPA protects against nerve-cell death and promotes nerve-tissue growth in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for happiness, decision making, learning, and memory.
Omega-3s are found in oily fish (herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, anchovies), salmon fish oil, and cod liver oil. You can also find omega-3 in walnuts, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, and stress — whether it's emotional, physical, environmental, or biochemical — can deplete magnesium levels in the body. Deficiency of magnesium can lead to inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, poor memory, and concentration.
Low magnesium levels can negatively affect blood sugar balance and our ability to use insulin effectively, which leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can affect mental health and contributes to depression.
Magnesium can be found in spinach, almonds, kefir, avocado, dark chocolate, banana, artichokes, seaweed, basil, and coriander. Alcohol depletes magnesium levels in the brain, so avoid regular alcohol intake when stressed.
6. Grass-fed lamb
Lamb contains zinc, an essential micronutrient with many roles involved in thedevelopment of depression, such as cell growth, cell death, and metabolism. The highest levels of zinc are found in the brain, especially the hippocampus.
Zinc plays a critical role in the brain and body's response to stress. Low levels are seen in those who suffer depression, and deficiency can also lead to poor learning and memory.
Brain inflammation can cause brain fog and may show up as depression and/or poor concentration, memory, and learning. Zinc is an antioxidant effective in reducing inflammation and protects the brain cells against damage caused by free radicals.
Zinc is also found in grass-fed beef, kefir, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashews, mushroom, and spinach.
7. Organic eggs
Eggs are a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid required for serotonin production. Diets lacking tryptophan and low levels of serotonin in the brain contribute to anxiety and depression.
Tryptophan is processed properly in the brain when consumed with a small amount of low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates such as vegetables and nuts and foods rich in vitamin B6 such as eggplant, sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, kangaroo, pasture-raised chicken, turkey, and wild salmon.
Tryptophan is also found in avocado, nuts, seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews), grass-fed beef and lamb, bananas, turkey, pasture-raised poultry, spirulina, green peas, and wild-caught fish (salmon and cod).
8. Curries with saffron and turmeric
Saffron could be as effective as some antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
Curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric, hasantidepressant-like activity, protects neurons, and improves neuroplasticity (or the ability to create new neural pathways in the brain).
It also protects against oxidative stress, mitochondrial damage, and leaky gut, all of which are compromised in depression.
As a supplement, curcumin (BCM-95) is found to be more effective than some conventional formulas.
What we eat has the power to send positive information from the gut to the brain, which goes on to affect our mood and behavior. Knowing this, wouldn't it make sense to fuel the body with ingredients that stoke the fire of happiness?
I encourage you to send glorious information to that brain of yours and flood the body with those natural chemicals that you're designed to produce.
But don't forget, what we eat is only ONE part of happiness creation. Happiness is a collaboration of information you gather from movement, mindfulness, social interaction, and connection to self.
If you feel bad more than you feel good, you are not alone. 55% of the two thousand women who have completed my Fully Expressed Life Audit™ in London, New York and Sydney experience a current mental health issue. If you're an entrepreneur or a new mum struggling to cope the above statistics are conservative.
Having built my way back from suffering depression four years ago I became curious as to how many people out in the world were just like me but keeping quiet. Keeping quiet was one of the reasons why I ended up with depression in the first place. It is my duty to support you to speak up, as when we speak up we give ourselves the opportunity to be supported.
Two years ago I became curious as to the root causes of what made me feel bad more often then good. I then asked myself why at a time when we've never had it so good, are a majority of us feeling disillusioned, anxious and stuck?
Clearly at that time I had more questions than answers. In my quest to uncover the unbiased truth as an impartial party I began an ambitious research project to understand the triggers as to why the majority of highly successful women feel bad more often than they feel good.
My primary research is supplemented by new science in the fields of gut health, epigenetics and neuroplasticity. Each piece informs the major triggers that are fueling the epidemic of mental health challenges.
Here are seven recommendations I’ve crafted for you to feel better more often. These are based on the major issues uncovered in my research. I share these insights to raise awareness that you are not alone. If you feel great, AWESOME! Your role is to keep these tips in your back pocket for when your friends and family members need a helping hand.
- Improve your digestive health
Over 60% of women have a current digestive health issue. Science has now proven such issues have a huge impact on our moods and overall mental health. When our gut is inflamed our Vagus nerve sends inflammatory markers to our brain which elicit a stress response and cause us to enter fight or flight mode and triggers symptoms of mental illness.
Heal your gut by eating whole and fermented foods that nurture your microbiome and you will also begin to heal your mental health. Authors including David Perlmutter, M.D. and, Kelly Brogan MD - Holistic Psychiatrist are excellent resources to begin your journey to understand how to eat and make lifestyle changes to support a happy gut and a happy mind.
- Find meaning in what you do
Over 70% suffer an existential crisis of meaning and over 80% claim that the work they do isn't the work they want to do and they feel daily angst turning up to work 'wondering what it's all for'. Although we've never had better access to education, health care and the like often we don't know why we do what we do and are searching for a deeper way to contribute that has some benefit to others and the world at large. The creator desire is there but for most the jump to explore alternatives see's us stuck in fear land. Fear of lifestyle implications, what society and family will think and our own ego getting in the way. However, we all know that if we ignore the triggers things spiral deeper until the universe brings forth a massive blow we can't ignore (relationship breakdown, major illness/injury, burnout etc.).
Actively explore a process that uncovers your own personal values, a set of aspirational beliefs, and a supporting vision. When you do so you'll inspire more considered decisions that support you to make appropriate lifestyle changes that over time will see you happier, healthier and less stressed.
- Spend time in environments that nurture you
The environments we spend our time in trigger our mental health challenges. Most notably our online environments and our work places. Over 65% claim that they feel down after reading their social media feeds. The percentage right now likely more as the election campaign in the US is causing all sorts of emotionally charged reactions in our social media feeds which drive angst and fear. Neither are fertilizer for a mind that is vulnerable.
At a time when the world is throwing all sorts of propaganda at you carefully curate the media you consume, who you consume it from and on which mediums. Your brain was not wired to consume the thousands of messages you're now consuming and this contributes to status anxiety and exhaustion. The more negativity you focus on the more your brain is wired for negativity. The more you access social media and compare yourself to others the more depressed you will feel. Limit your consumption. Start by sleeping with your phone outside your bedroom and replace the time on social media with exercise or meditation.
- Unleash your creativity & play more
Over 60% have lost the ability to play and 65% recall the last time they embraced creativity was when they were a child. Creativity and play are the hidden ingredients to uncover a flow state - where time stops and we are fully present. Flow was one of the top strategies I used to hack my way out of depression without drugs and became a World Champion in an extreme sport after a seven-year absence from it. Just ask any extreme athlete why they’re able to push the limits of human performance and they'll all tell you it's flow. The great thing is flow is accessible to all of us.
Find something that inspires you and that time stops for and commit to a regular practice of it. The more you do it the more you are scientifically proven to be able to hack flow in other areas of your life, including your work.
- Embrace practices that quieten the mind
How are you? What's the first response? Busy. Yes, we have busy lives but I ask you, is your ‘busyness’ something you do to escape a state of stillness so you don't have to be alone with yourself? 'Busyness' leads to burnout, burnout triggers all kinds of diseases like IBS and Chronic Fatigue etc. It's no surprise that 90%+ of depression sufferers report feeling better after a walk in nature versus the 60% + who take a walk in a shopping mall come away feeling worse.
Take at least ten minutes a day to sit in stillness absent of media, in meditation and another five minutes a day to marvel in the wonder of nature. It might be a falling leaf, closing your eyes and tuning into the sounds of the ocean or burying your feet in fresh cut grass. Whatever you choose, please nurture it and over time it will provide you all the insight and wisdom you need to make the right decisions to support your overall health and well-being.
- Spend time with the right people
Over 60% claim that when they hang out with their friends they spend more time complaining then encouraging each other to be at their best. What you digest with your ears not only impacts your mental health but also your gut health. This causes inflammation in our bodies and that inflammation turns into lifestyle diseases like depression.
Be discerning with your friends, choose people to spend time with those that nurture and nourish you. Choose people to be in your life that you can also share that you're not ok with and they can help you help yourself in times of need. The more we open up for help the more people will open up and help us.
- Practice self-compassion
Over 80% claim, they find it difficult to be compassionate towards others. Imagine what that means in relation to self-compassion. Compassion is a heart trait, it's something we're able to do when we practice self-love. It's going to yoga class or pouring yourself a hot bath when you're feeling less than your best versus going out for Friday night drinks and waking up Saturday feeling yuck. It's about reassuring oneself when you're feeling a little down that you are doing the best you can and that is the best you can do right now.
Ask yourself how can I practice self-compassion this week by tapping into your needs and honoring them. This takes practice and self-evaluation to understand what your needs are in the first place. It requires you to create a belief system that says it's ok to take care of you and set firm boundaries in your relationships and activities with others.
For more tips on curating a Fully Expressed Life gift yourself five minutes to take our FREE Life Audit HERE. Your personalized report will provide you helpful tips that WILL help you feel better more often. I guarantee it!
With love and light to all. And yes I'm on the edge of a cliff with a 300-metre drop below me wearing my Liquido’s. Was I scared? Yes. Was it fun? Hell Yes. Did I hack flow? Sure did!
Bella Zanesco is a Career & Life Strategist. She provides 1 on 1 coaching services, group programs and workshops to help professionals make changes in their lives so they become happier, healthier and less stressed. Bella is a World Champion Sailor and a Yoga Teacher.
Visit Bella's Facebook page HERE!