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!