Own Your Wellness!
Our emotions are powerful little things especially during pregnancy, birth and parenthood. It's one long ride on that rollercoaster, right?! Our emotions are influenced by events in our lives, the amount of sleep we get, hormones, even the weather. We may feel that we're in control of our emotions but there are complex processes going on in our brain that can manipulate how we feel. Your brain interprets emotional circumstances which will affect how you feel and how you respond to those feelings. So, what role does the brain play in shaping our mood? Where do these emotions come from? How can we better understand what they are and how to manage them? Emotions serve an important evolutionary purpose. Fear, for example, serves to protect you from danger so you can survive to pass on your genes. The "fight-or-flight" response that primes your body to defend itself or run away from danger is also an emotional reaction. For these reasons, the brain takes on the function of evaluating a stimulus - such as a moving car as you're about to cross the road or your child coming towards you for a cuddle - and crafting an emotional response to it. The brain thinks in terms of how it can best respond to a situation and uses emotions as the catalyst to convince the rest of your body to act accordingly. I talk a lot about this in my Hypnobirthing classes when we look at a woman's preconception of what birth is (whether they've heard negative birth stories, watched films/TV programmes or their own previous experience of birth). It is often viewed as a negative and scary event and therefore the subconscious mind logs "birth" away as a dangerous event. As a result of this, the body responds by going into the fight or flight response when labour starts and causes the body to tense. This tension causes pain in the uterus. If we reprogram the mind to think positively about birth then the body will respond in a confident, relaxed and calm way.
Part of the brain's information-processing network includes neurotransmitter - they affect your mood, appetite, memory, social behavior, and other processes. The three most commonly studied neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Dopamine is related to experiences of pleasure and the reward-learning process. In other words, when you do something good, you're rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable, happy feeling. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning. Researchers believe it plays a part in the regeneration of brain cells, which has been linked to easing depression. An imbalance in serotonin levels results in an increase in anger, anxiety, depression and panic [source: Nazario]. Norepinephrine helps moderate your mood by controlling stress and anxiety.
Abnormalities in how the brain receives and processes these chemicals can have a big effect on your emotions. For example, when you do something rewarding or pleasurable, the part of your brain that processes that information interacts with the chemical dopamine. If your brain can't receive dopamine normally, the result is that you feel less happy, or even sad, after what should have been a happy experience.
Building your emotional wellbeing
Everyday emotional well-being involves identifying, building upon, and operating from your strengths rather than focusing on fixing problems or weaknesses. The better you are able to master your emotions, the greater your capacity to enjoy life, cope with stress, and focus on important personal priorities.
I read this somewhere recently and it really resonated with me:
"Your emotional wellness or emotional health is like a deep well. When the water is clean, it gives life to everyone who drinks from it. When the water becomes toxic over time, it is not only hazardous to everyone’s health but also corrodes the well beyond repair over time."
Building emotional wellness is a commitment to listening and becoming fully aware of what is going on inside you in relation to your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. It involves observing your actions or reactions and tracing its causes or roots deep within you to finding your underlying unhappiness.
Whether you breathe in, use topically on your body and/or take internally, Doterra's essential oils have a chemical reaction in your brain which means it can bring negative feelings into check and improve your mood. Incredible right? Using essential oils forces me to tune into my body and ask what it needs. Here are my favourite oils to support emotional wellbeing.
When you think emotional well-being, you think to ‘elevate’ and feel joy. Doterra's Elevation Essential Oil is a compilation of Lavandin - helps dispel feelings of depression or anxiety; Tangerine - help calm and relieve feelings of stress while enhancing and promoting more energy; Lemon Myrtle - has a strong lemony aroma that is elevating and refreshing; Melissa - a very special oil which is so helpful for depression and anxiety; Ylang Ylang - calming and relaxing. It brings feelings of self-love and confidence; Osmanthus - is one of the 10 famous traditional flowers of China. The blossoms are highly aromatic and are used in the world’s rarest and most expensive perfumes; Sandalwood - is calming and sedative. It helps balance and harmonize the emotions and may help ease nervous tension.
Doterra's Balance Essential Oil is the oil that changed my life! I had post-natal depression and a friend gave me a sample of this beautiful blend and everything changed! This blend is made up of Spruce - which grounds the body and may even help to dilate the bronchial tract to improve the oxygen exchange. Rosewood - a soothing oil to the skin, appeasing to the mind and relaxing to the body. Rosewood helps one to release emotional blocks. Blue Tansy – may help cleanse the liver and calm the lymphatic system to help rid oneself of anger and promote a feeling of self-control. Frankincense is in balance too - with sesquiterpenes which help oxygenate the pineal and pituitary glands. This blend is my go-to for emotional steadiness.
Frankincense contains sesquiterpenes, which enables the essential oil to go beyond the blood-brain barrier. It increases the activity of leukocytes, which defend the body against infection. The perfume or aroma that Frankincense emits promotes feelings of satisfaction, peace, relaxation, and overall wellness, which explains its unique value in ancient times.
Interestingly enough Roman Chamomile was used by the ancient Romans to give them a clear mind and to empower them with courage for their battles. According to Roberta Wilson, Chamomile was nicknamed the ‘plants physician’ because it supposedly cured any ailing plant place near it’. Because it is a calming and relaxing oil, it can combat depression, insomnia, and stress. It eliminates some of the emotional charge of anxiety, irritability, and nervousness. It may also be used to soothe and clear the mind, creating an atmosphere of peace and patience.
Doterra's Encouraging Blend, Motivate, is formulated with a blend of citrus and mint essential oils such as Yuzu, Clementine, and Peppermint. These oils come together to create a chemical profile that is high in monoterpenes and monoterpene alcohols, which contain uplifting properties. Together they promotes feelings of confidence, courage, and belief.
Pretty obvious, right? But if we’re eating the right foods then this too has a chemical reaction in our body and, therefore, nutritious food has a huge impact on a our health and is key to emotional wellbeing. I really recommend seeing a Nutritionist. You can chat about your diet and look at some key elements that might be missing. Your gut is the key to so much! I saw Joanna Kovacs Nutrition and she’s quite literally changed my family’s life! Each person’s nutritional needs are different, what works for one person may not work for the next, so having that one-to-one advice is key. When I eat well I have more energy and feel well balanced emotionally.
When children are running riot and my stress levels are increasing, I’ll step outside, take in an element of nature (whether it's a tree, a flower or a bird), and say to myself "I breathe in relaxation. I breath out tension". I'll repeat this several times until I start to feel my shoulders drop and my breath slow. Spending time outdoors has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, help you find clarity, and rejuvenate your mind and body. A study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that a natural environment allowed people to leave the stressors of their everyday lives behind and instead focus their minds on something more pure. By centering your mind, you can relax your body. Also, in polluted or indoor environments, the body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs to function. This raises your heart rate and blood pressure. A recent Dutch study suggests that spending time in nature and performing repetitive tasks such as gardening can fight stress better than other leisure activities. In the study, one group of people was asked to read indoors after completing a stressful task while the other group was instructed to garden for 30 minutes. The gardeners not only reported being in a better mood than the readers, but also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Breathing is your body's built-in stress buster. Levels of oxygen in your brain are tied to levels of serotonin. Too much serotonin and you can become irritable and tense, but too little serotonin and you can become depressed. Breathing fresh air can therefore help regulate your levels of serotonin and promote happiness and well-being. Research shows that breathing techniques have the ability to dampen the production of stress hormones as well as train your body's reaction to stressful situations. Rapid breathing engages your body's sympathetic nervous system (or, your "fight or flight" response), which is activated by stress. Slow, deep breathing stimulates the body's parasympathetic reaction, which calms us down. By stopping and taking a few deep breaths in through you nose and out through your mouth, you can put the brake on your body's natural stress response.
A University of California, Irvine study found that people who had access to email and therefore received a steady stream of messages throughout the day had higher heart rates than those who were cut off from electronic communication. So, going "offline" for a day or more (of even just a couple of hours) can help you unwind.
Are you getting some time for you? Are you creating little pockets of time where you have silence, you breathe deeply and stop thinking! This could be a shower alone, a slow walk down to the end of your garden or road and back, reading a page or two of that book you keep meaning to pick up, writing a gratitude journal, taking a bath, calling a friend you haven't spoken to for a while, cooking something new, painting your nails...whatever it is that forces you to switch off from everyday stressors and reconnect with your soul. Carve out a "time-out" session at least once a week. If you have a partner then I also recommend them carving this time out too so that you both know that, once a week, you will encourage one another to take that time for yourselves.
Listen to your favourite song
It's not always easy to find much time during the day when you're looking after children or working a full-time job. When I'm desperate for a moment to pick myself up, I'll hop onto spotify and listen to some of my favourite songs - you know, the guilty pleasure ones! (Whitney Houstons "How will I know", Eternal & Luther Vandross "I wanna be the only one".....I finish there before I really embarress myself! You get my point! It's like instant therapy.
Listen to an inspiring podcast
I've only just discovered the world of podcasts and, god, I wish I'd started downloading these gems ages ago. There are some incredibly positive and inspiring people out there and once you find the ones you connect with, you'll be hooked. I love playing a podcast whilst getting ready for the day or whilst cooking the kids lunch - if I can still use my ears then why not learn a thing or too?! I love to find those women that just totally 'get' motherhood (Scummy Mummies are hilarious!) or those inspirational speakers who teach you about aligning yourself with your aspirations and making them happen (Hol:Fit never disappoints). Listening to a podcast forces me to tune into someone else's energy, knowledge and experience which can be super beneficial and influential. I'd love to know your favourite podcasts - I need some more recommendations!
So, please remember that your emotional wellbeing is as important as your physical wellbeing. They both influence one another and, just like there are many ways we can maintain good physical health, there are also so many ways to maintain good emotional health too. It matters and you absolutely can #ownyourwellness!
If you'd like to learn more about doTERRA's essential oils then come along to a class, either in person or via my webinars, or simply get in touch. You purchase oils here.