By Susan Ksiezopolski
As nature around us transitions into a new season –it is a great lesson for us on accepting the changes ahead. Leaves fall off and trees are left bare, exposed to the elements. We too settle into new routines with summer fading fast behind us as the days get shorter with lessening of daylight time. It is important during this time, to take stock and make time to rest, slow down and ease into the transition of the new season. This time of year begins to usher in time for more stillness and calm. Nurturing calm allows us to become more resilient to the chaos of life. If we do not take the time to slow down and operate on adrenaline by overscheduling ourselves, and not taking some down time it leads to burn out.
How do we nurture more calmness to help reset and renew our energy for the winter months looming ahead? In order to nurture calmness it takes focused effort and intention. We can do this through the practises and habits we follow and how we nourish our bodies through the foods we eat. What we do and what we eat have a significant impact on our level of calm.
Although when stressed we turn to comfort foods – ice cream, chips, pizza, cookies – or other fast food – these choices can make things worse as our bodies now also have to deal with processing stress and processed foods. Rather than reaching for the temporary reprieve that wears off quickly – it is best to reach for foods that have a calming effect on us.
Here are a few options for introducing more calm through your diet by choosing foods that are rich in:
- Tryptophan, which gets converted to serotonin, the feel-good hormone that helps regulate our nervous system in our bodies . Some foods to consider include: turkey, oats, bananas, eggs, and nuts.
- Vitamin C ,as it helps to convert dopamine into norepinephrine – needed for calm. Add foods such as blueberries, citrus fruits and bell peppers to help increase your Vitamin C levels.
- Vitamin D, helps to protect our immune system, our brain and nervous system, by regulating neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Some foods that help with our Vitamin D intake are salmon, eggs, and mushrooms.
- Vitamin B: helps to metabolize serotonin, acts as comfort food for our nervous system. Nuts, wholegrains, and leafy greens are some foods that are high in vitamin B.
To bring more calm into your life, try introducing more calming foods into your diet.
Being mindful of our habits and practises also impacts our calm. Through our breath, our level of activity and our creative routines we can contribute to helping us feel calmer.
It is important to spend time in calm. Research shows that during stress we impair the cognitive functions of our prefrontal cortex – needed to help us regulate our behaviour, thoughts, emotions.
Stress activates our amygdala which keeps us in the flight or fight mode. This signals the release of adrenal glands to produce increased levels of adrenalin and cortisol, which over time negatively impacts our wellbeing. It puts us at risk for many physical and mental health problems. Alternatively, when we are in a calm state this activates our prefrontal cortex to better regulate and orchestrate our behaviour and emotional responses. Partaking in creative activities also helps us to renew our calm by helping us to focus better and get in our flow zone.
As we are transitioning from summer to fall, this is a perfect time to explore and take in calming restorative experience of art related activities. Come visit us at Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre to reset and find your calm.