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Day Three: The Five Senses

When we find ourselves beginning to stress or become angry, it’s helpful to tap into the power of this exercise, which can definitely help reset our mindset! 

Another way to use our five senses is by using our creative inclinations. 

By making music or art, by knitting or doing embroidery, or by making natural candles or soaps, we can tap into that all-important part of our brains that has created some of the most beautiful things on the planet.

Color, texture, sound, scent and taste – we can creatively express all of these things. One thing I love to do is make or simply color mandalas. As you develop a more positive mindset toward a healthier brain, what might you consider as YOUR creative outlet?

If you choose music as your creative outlet, you may enjoy THIS ARTICLE  which explains the many ways that learning to play a musical instrument can benefit your brain and, by extension, your mindset.

In my book, The Musical Brain, you will find much more information on using music to build a happier, healthier brain.

Your Health Tip for the Day: The Sugar Monster

So today we were stimulating the five senses to bring our awareness to the present, which helps reduce anxious feelings and pulls our attention away from negative thoughts.

But there’s something else we can do, and while it can be a challenge for some people – it is very important!

Many of us respond to stress by reaching for sugary foods. That’s because foods high in sugar trigger the release of serotonin, one of the feel-good hormones. That’s why you see people chowing down on ice cream when they’re worried or upset about something. (How many movies have you seen where the girl eats a whole carton of ice ream after a breakup?)

The problem is, when your body is stressed or anxious, you also have higher levels of cortisol, which we know is the “stress hormone. When cortisol is present, it suppresses the release of insulin, the hormone that takes up glucose to use for energy.

So now you have a one-two punch of spiked blood sugar levels and less ability to process it properly. That means that by eating more sugar when you are stressed or anxious just amplifies the amount of sugar your body would naturally already have flowing, and that contributes to more severe drops in blood sugar and more drastic drops in your mood. So that means more sugar to boost the mood again, which means another drop and that can contribute to feelings of anxiety. It’s a vicious circle.

And “high-sugar foods” aren’t just chocolate bars and cookies. Refined carbohydrates like white breads, rice and cereals also cause ups and downs in blood sugar levels.

So, to help rewire your thoughts and protect your brain, in addition to all of these great exercises, do your very best to cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates. Chowing down on a pint of ice cream is not going to make you feel better.

And add to this the fact that insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes can contribute to dementia, well, it’s just a good idea to keep sugar intake to a minimum.

Bottom line – stay away from sugar of all kinds. If you’re really craving the sensation of sweet, have a date or a piece of fruit. Much better for your brain!