A recent medical study caught my eye, so today I am excited to share it with you here. Researchers looked at how exercise helps to boost memory, and found that there are literally immediate benefits to your memory function after literally just one bout of exercising.
Published September 2020 in Scientific Reports, this study finds that one session of exercising (cycling on a stationary bike was the exercise used in this study) significantly improved motor sequence memory — immediately! This is super encouraging, because it was not looking at just the long term benefits from exercise (which of course has far reaching protective health effects, that I will go through below) but suggests that even if all you can do is one single episode of exercise, you will get immediate benefits that very day.
In previous animal studies, just one bout of exercising has been found to boost anandamide levels in the brain. If you follow my podcast (Intuition Physician UPdates) then you already know why boosting anandamide levels in the brain is so good for us — it helps our brains to heal so well that it may literally help the brain recover from trauma. And the exciting thing is that exercise is not the only way to boost anandamide levels… I go over several other ways to do my podcast episode here.
So today’s uplifting health tip is to use exercise as a way to focus before a mental task. Some examples might include walking up and down a flight of stairs quickly before giving a presentation at work, doing a few jumping jacks in the office before writing an important email, playing a game of frisbee with friends just before settling down to study for college exams, encouraging your kids to jump on a trampoline before hopping on the school bus each morning.
And although just one session of exercising provides benefit, ideally it would be even better to sprinkle movement throughout your entire day.
It could be as simple as standing up and walking around a bit every hour or two, getting in some gentle stretching routines in throughout the day, walking up and down your stairs if you have them, and/or doing a before-bed yoga routine to reap massive benefits.
For those that want to read a good medical study summarizing this, I highly recommend you hop over to read this medical report published in 2015: Sitting At Home Is Deadly. Meanwhile, see if you can come up with a way to move your body:
- upon waking in the morning
- as a mid morning break
- as a mid day break
- as a mid afternoon break
- and end with a before-bed stretch.
Consider if any of these 7 ideas may be added to your daily routine:
Idea #1: Morning Stretch
Develop a stretch routine that you do when you first wake up, before even starting your day.
Once you get into a habit of morning stretching, you will realize how much this impacts your entire day and you’ll never want to skip this again.
Getting into a morning and evening stretch routine is just one of the many many ways that you can actually benefit for the rest of your life from self care routines that you start during quarantine. Seriously! I honestly believe that if we take this time while under social distancing precautions to focus on developing healthy routines and self care strategies, we will actually be healthier for our entire lives than if we would not have had this pandemic.
To get ideas of stretches that feel good for you, here is a great YouTube video that includes some of my personal favorites, and is only 10 minutes long. Take what you like from these suggestions and create your own routine that you will stick with:
If you prefer looking at stretch suggestions instead of watching a video, this page has 4 great stretches for you:
And then you can add these 6 on to create a simple 10 stretch routine to start your day:
Idea #2: Mid-Morning Walk
If at all possible, I highly encourage you to go outside mid morning and mid afternoon on a walk. Do as little or as much as you like, anything is absolutely better than nothing.
Walk the sidewalks of your neighborhood, walk the perimeter of your yard or driveway if you have one, walk back and forth to your mailbox several times, walk any neighborhood trails if you have them.
If you can not even go outside on a walk, find a pattern to loop inside of your home, going in and out of each room or simply up and down hallways.
Aim for at least 10 minutes of walking in each session, more if you can.
Idea #3: Mid-Day Steps
An easy way to get more movement into your day without needing a gym membership is to seek out a flight of stairs, or even one single step if that is all you have.
You can walk up and down the steps leading to your front door, any steps you have inside your home if you live in a multi-story house, any steps that you have leading to your parking area or garage, or any steps you might have in your neighborhood.
Even if all you can find is one step, you can so some great calve strengthening exercises on that one step alone… a great mid-day pick me up.
Here are some ideas:
Idea #4: Mid-Afternoon Walk
Repeat the same walk you did mid-morning (see above) or find a new way to walk â€” for example, if you walked around your neighborhood in the mid-morning while it was cool, you may wish to stay inside and loop your living room or office a dozen times in the heat of the afternoon. Or vice versa! Just keep moving for at least 10 minutes.
Idea #5: Before Bed Yoga Stretches
Never head to bed without stretching your body out â€” releasing tension from the day and giving your muscles one more deep release. If you enjoy following a video, here is a great one:
If you prefer reading over a written list of stretches (with pictures) here is my favorite set â€” this is one is very similar to the routine I do each night before I go to bed myself!
Idea #6: Invite Heat Into Your Muscles
There have been so many studies recently looking at the health benefits of routine sauna. Sauna increases the circulation of blood all throughout your body â€” getting the blood pumping through your cardiovascular system, your muscles, your skin, your joints, your brain â€” so it turns out that routine sauna has many of the same health benefits that exercise does.
So if you have mobility issues or find that your job makes moving your body through the day impossible… sauna is a great substitute (or addition) to any wellness plan. In fact, sauna actually helps protect brain function and routine sauna is correlated with over a 60% reduction in dementia risk! I write about that for you here: Sauna To Protect Your Brain
You may also want to read more about how routine sauna is correlated with a longer lifespan, which I review for you here: Sauna For A Longer Lifespan
Even better if you can do a combination of sauna and then grounding, which and friend and I demonstrate for you in a video. Hop on over to watch! Sauna + Grounding, A Win-Win Combo
If you don’t have access to a sauna (and let’s face it, most of us don’t) you can still use this healing principle to invite heat into your body in other ways.
Pick one of these ways (or use them all!) and write it down in your worksheet so you remember to use it:
- a microwavable rice pack to wrap around neck and shoulders
- a hot water bottle to place on stiff lower back muscles
- a 15 minute hot bath with magnesium salts to relax all muscles
- a 5 minute hot shower to release tension from head to toe
I love a hot bath every few nights, as well as wrapping a hot rice pack around my neck whenever I feel muscle tension throughout the day â€” you can buy these online but if you are crafty you may even enjoy making your own out of an old hand towel and a bag of rice:
- DIY Heated Neck Wrap (The Art Of Doing Stuff)
Idea #7: Body Work
The feeling of worry and stress and anxiety is often the stress of energy that is accumulating in the body without release.
I know I personally feel this as a ball of pressure right in my solar plexus, as well and incredibly painful tension in my shoulders and neck… but where stress shows up for you in your body is different for everyone.
Irritability, crying, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, tension, muscle stiffness, decreased or increased appetite, weight loss or gain, insomnia… often these all represent energy that just needs to be released to make room for the natural healing process and optimism and energy to return.
If you are feeling stuck and in need of physical release, along with movement and heat like we addressed above, body work can help assist your body in letting go of stress.
If you have a partner, take turns giving massages to each other. But you absolutely can perform wonderful self massage techniques that release tension from your neck, shoulders, hands and feet on your own too. Just click on one of the videos below and follow along!
Not able to exercise? There are other ways to keep your mind open and your brain sharp.
There is actual medical evidence that the more you are self motivated when learning something, the better your brain works. No exercise involved! Simply being curious can actually improve brain function. 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 looked at brain function on MRI when the subject was highly curious about the material they were engaged in, and found 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.
Ideally what you are offering to this world is something that is perfectly suited 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!
Idea #1: Learn A New Language
Do you have a bucket list of trips you want to take?
A perfect way to prepare for future adventures, and keep your brain sharp at the same time, is to sign up for one of the many free language classes that are offered online â€” there are literally thousands of different languages you can master.
It may help to learn a language with a friend to stay motivated. 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!
- Free language classes at Duolingo
- Free language classes at OpenCulture
- Free language classes at LearnALanguage
- 10 Min A Day classes at Busuu
Idea #2: Reduce Job Stress
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 â€” 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 â€” 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 â€œon callâ€ 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 having to redo them. I should have stayed in bed.
I know I am not alone. In many â€” if not most â€” 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 â€” for your own mental health â€” 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 â€œwork mode.â€
- 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 â€” from a designated weekly movie night to a routine family date to time alone â€” 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 â€” 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 â€” meet people that it would be literally impossible to â€œtalk shopâ€ 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 â€” 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 â€” even if you can’t modify your current job in the slightest â€” 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:
- Your Healing Mantra for 2021
- Your Body Is Continually Speaking To You. Here’s How To Listen To It.
- 17 Ways To Naturally Decrease Your Stress (+ A Few Freebies To Help)
- 4 Easy Ways To Use Your Breath To Feel Instantly Better â€” Do Them With Me Right Now
- Your History Of Trauma Is Making This Pandemic Harder On You Than Others
- Medical Decisions Can Be Overwhelming, Here’s An Easy Tool To Help (+ free printable)
- Need To Boost Your Hopefulness? I’ve Got You
- What You Eat Is Making Your Anxiety Worse
- Missing Just One Hour Of Sleep Skyrockets Your Risk Of Depression, Anxiety
- Anxiety Doubles Cancer Mortality. It Doesn’t Have To… Here’s How.
- Reducing Background Anxiety Increases Mental Clarity: Here’s How
- Disrupted Day/Night Rhythm Increases Mental Illness Rates
- 2 New Treatments For PTSD You Can Use Right Now To Feel Immediatley Better.
- Grounding Instantly Helps Your Brain, Mood, and Sleep
- Incredibly Powerful Alternatives To AntidepressantsThat Work
- A Sense Of Purpose In Life Medically Proven To Help Your Body Stay Younger… 9 Powerful Ways To Do It
- Sleep Increases Your Recovery From Depression
- Resolving PTSD, OCD, Tobacco and Drug Addiction Too
- 5 Things You Can Do To Naturally Lift Depression
- A Supplement So Good For The Brain It Can Prevent Psychosis
- Emotional Stress Directly Predicts Heart Attack… 10 Ways To Prevent It
- OCD May Stem From Birth Trauma
Idea #3: Take An Online Health Class (With Me!)
I’ve got several health classes coming up this fall and winter â€” keeping you feeling uplifted, supported and inspired no matter how cold and dark it gets outside. Here is a list of my next 5 classes:
October 4: Earth Connect 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 â€” yard or no yard, urban or rural â€” you can find ways to stay connected to 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… 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. Save your seat here.
October 18th: Expand Your Intuition Online Class
Almost all of us are intuitively open and don’t even know it, so we feel drained by our ability to pick up on intuitive information, instead of empowered by it. You might find yourself exhausted after interactions with others or time spent in crowded places. Or maybe you don’t feel you have any intuitive capabilities at all, but you’ve always wanted to. Let me reassure you that you do — we all do — it’s in our biology… and I’ll help you find it.
I created this class to help you uncover and strengthen your intuitive, empathetic nature. Because the more you know about how to work with your intuition, the more powerful you feel and the stronger you are from tapping into it… not weakened or exhausted by it. This class is a 4 week long, online class. In it, I personally share with you exactly how I dropped out of the constricting conventional world around me and opened up to a whole new level of intuitive guidance.
- Have you ever wanted to receive, honor, and actively make decisions based upon your own intuitions?
- Have you ever wanted to use intuition in your own health care?
- Have you ever wanted to use intuition to make your daily life go more smoothly?
- Have you ever wanted to feel more empowered by your intuitive, empathic gifts… instead of drained by them?
I want that for you too!!! So, I lead a private class to help you do just that. This class is a *must* for all empaths who find their energy affected or drained by others. I’ll teach you how to become more resilient and strong by tapping into your intuitive gifts, instead of buffering yourself from others or playing small. Join me here.
Jan 10th: Weight Release & Reset Online Class
Your New Year New You 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.
And it’s not even about your diet and exercise plan â€” there are actually several 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 what really is sabotaging your weight loss and the weight releases, naturally. Join me here.
Jan 24th: 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!
In this class 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, along with a Q&A session to go over all of your chakra related questions. Join me here.
February 14th: Trauma Resiliency Online Class
I start this class on 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.
Not up for a full class but still want to focus on your health?
I have a bunch of free ebooks for you here, click on any to instantly download:
- Free Grounding Idea eBook
- Free Adrenal Repair eBook
- Free Skin Happiness eBook
- Free Health Flow Unleash eBook
- Free Chakra Health eBook
- Free Gentle Detox eBook
- Free Female Health eBook
- Free Parenting eBook
More Tips To Help You Protect Your Brain:
- Stay well hydrated to maintain alert cognition
- Sleep deeply to protect brain function
- ground to the earth daily (here are all the awesome ways that grounding supports your brain function!)
- take probiotics (your brain and your gut are deeply interconnected)
- take Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements (shown to help preserve brain volume as you age)
- exercise to protect your brain volume as you age
- eat organically (studies show that pesticides increase Alzheimers Risk)
- avoid gluten (studies suggest that gluten is neurotoxic)
- drink coffee (clinically shown to protect agains MS!)
- drink green tea or take green tea extract (medically shown to boost memory!)
- take Vit D supplements (studies show low Vit D levels are linked to increased dementia rates)
- take Resveratrol supplements (medically shown to stop the progression of Alzheimers plaques!)
- treat any anxiety (studies show treating anxiety lengthens lifespan!)
- meditate regularly (medically proven to be brain protective!)
- and stay active (daily walking is the key!)
To your naturally resilient, astoundingly incredible brain!