Have you ever had a bipolar disorder coping strategy that became a passion?
Did this passion help you reduce your symptoms and at the same time fill the room with delicious smells?!
Coping Through Mindfulness
I’ve had bipolar disorder my whole life. Along with medication and therapy, there are other ways to manage symptoms including coping strategies.
Coping strategies include mindfulness, which means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Mindfulness includes forms of meditation such as breath awareness and kundalini yoga.
Did you know that cooking is a basic and overlooked form of meditation.
Cooking In The Moment
Cooking is a simple daily task that can help you find peace and enjoyment in the present moment.
An example is an easy and simple recipe such as candied sweet potatoes. When you’re starting it on the top of your stove by adding butter to your pan you’ll notice your mind is set on that simple task.
Then you start adding brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the butter. When this happens there’s a delicious smell that not only makes you hungry but also triggers feelings of warm nostalgia, along with activating areas of your brain linked to emotion and memory. You’ll find that this calms an anxious mind.
Benefits Of Cooking?
It’s hard to get motivated when your in a depressed mood because of bipolar disorder.
Due to depression weighing you down; you might be in the mood to overeat, but you might have a hard time getting up and doing anything else.
When you’re feeling depressed there are many benefits to cooking for yourself.
What Are Some Of Cooking’s Benefits?
Cooking Is Therapeutic: Cooking is an effective therapy, because it encourages creativity. It also reduces anxiety and depression.
Healthier Food Options: People who cook for themselves tend to have better overall health.
Focus On What You’re Eating: When you’re cooking for yourself you’re not surrounded by other distractions. You can enjoy your food more and exercise better control over what you eat.
Cooking Forces You To Get It Together: Preparing your own food takes some planning. It encourages you to be organized and focused, which helps with bipolar symptoms.
It Connects You With Others: Cooking for someone else is a way to express love. Whether it’s for your significant other, kids, roommates, family or friends you’re all working together to make something amazing.
How Do You Cope With Your Bipolar Symptoms?
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I mentioned in Part.1 how the COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult time for everyone, particularly those who have issues with anxiety and anxiety disorders. I’ve been living with chronic anxiety long before this crisis started, but I’ve learned how to manage it in a holistic way. I’ll be sharing with you how I’ve been coping with COVID-19 anxiety.
I don’t have the luxury of working from home and I’m an essential worker, so it’s important for me to stay healthy and take a proactive approach toward my health by not only protecting my physical health, but my mental health as well.
I mentioned in my previous post about the mind-body connection; our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can have an effect on our overall health. How you cope with anxiety is very important.
Ways of Coping Include:
Attempt To Maintain a Routine: This pandemic has thrown my normal routine off and it’s difficult to stay focused. I’ve been using block scheduling to maintain a routine for not only work, but also for exercising and for writing this blog.
Focusing on Breathing: Just simple breathing works its magic on anxiety. Taking deep breaths while meditating calms your brain down while you’re focusing on the present moment.
Exercise: An excellent way to maintain a good mind-body connection is to get moving and exercise. Since the gym is closed and I don’t want to risk getting bit by ticks by walking in the woods, so I’ve been taking time after work to take long walks while social distancing.
Watching What I Eat: I mentioned in a post about how there’s a negative connection between processed foods and mental health, and that it’s really important to watch what you eat.
Recommended Foods To Reduce Anxiety Include:
Food To Avoid include:
Artificial and Refined Sugars
Foods High in Sodium
Getting Enough Sleep: Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep is important, pandemic or no pandemic, because when you don’t sleep well you not only have worsening anxiety, but also a weakened immune system.
Putting Limits On How Much Media I Consume: The 24/7 news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic will take a toll on my mental health and at the same time I need to stay informed about what’s happening, so it’s beneficial to limit how much news media I consume.
Limit alcohol consumption: In the short term having a drink or two is relaxing, however overtime excessive drinking can interfere with the chemicals in your brain that regulate mental health and cause worsening anxiety, depression and stress becomes harder to handle.
Connect with Friends Remotely: One of the most difficult aspects of this pandemic has been lockdowns and social distancing. Once a week I like to get together with friends to go hiking; I get my exercise and I socialize. However, due to social distancing I haven’t been able to go, so I connect with friends remotely through texting, social media and phone calls.
This is a tough regiment to live by to keep chronic anxiety under control and this challenging time we’re living in is making it even tougher.
How Are You Coping With This Tough Time?
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When I was doing research for my previous post about social anxiety I read something that was very interesting. There are many people with anxiety disorders that have emotional triggers caused by underlying mental health issues and past trauma, but there are other people that experience anxiety despite not having other mental health issues. It’s possible that diet plays a huge role in our mental health. The topic I’m exploring in this post is Gluten.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a substance present in cereal grains such as wheat. It’s responsible for the elastic texture of dough.
Gluten is present in these grains and starches:
Foods that contain gluten:
To be more specific gluten is a group of proteins called prolamins and glutelins.
Gluten occurs with starch in the endosperm of various cereal grains. Between 75 and 85% of the total protein in bread and wheat is supplied by this protein complex.
There are many people who suffer from gluten intolerance.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) occurs when this protein triggers gluten-related inflammation in the gut and causes physical and mental symptoms.
Physical Symptoms include:
Along with physical symptoms gluten intolerance can affect mental health.
The symptoms of NCGS are similar to celiac disease, however they are both different conditions. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can cause long-term harm to your digestive system and is life threatening vs. NCGS which is more short term.
Gluten and the Effects on the Flora – Gut-Brain Connection
I mentioned in a previous post titled the “Brain-Gut Connection” about the role that the gut microbiome plays in our mental health. It’s interesting that 90% of the happy hormone serotonin is produced in the small intestine by gut bacteria.
However, the overuse of antibiotics could disrupt the gut microbiome and lead to a decrease of serotonin causing symptoms such as anxiety, depression and brain fog.
Is There a Link Between Gluten Intolerance and Gut Health?
Along with playing a role in our mental health the gut microbiome also plays a role in the proper development of the immune system and the tolerance to different foods.
If this gut microbiota is altered early on in life it can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions, food allergies and autoimmune disorders. It’s not only the overuse of antibiotics that can disrupt the gut microbiome, but also other factors as well.
GMO’s: There are many pros of growing crops that are genetically modified organisms including increased crop yields, lowering crop prices and making crops more resistant to the elements. However, some of the cons include no long term human clinical trials to prove that GMO’s are safe, tinkering with the genetic makeup of plants may result in the introduction of toxins that may induce food allergies and GMOs are bred to be herbicide resistant and this has led to the growth of “superweeds”. that require more toxic weed killers to kill.
Chemicals: The use of chemicals such as pesticides and weed killers such as Glyphosate (Roundup) are possible causes of gluten intolerance. Roundup has been used since the 1990’s to not kill the herbicide tolerant “superweeds” that are now growing as a result of GMO crops, but Roundup is also used by some farmers to dry out wheat before it’s harvested. A study was done on fish that were exposed to glyphosate and they developed digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease and it can also disrupt gut bacteria in animals by killing beneficial forms and causing an overgrowth of pathogens that can affect immune health and disrupt digestion.
Lifestyle Changes – Things to Be Aware of
The symptoms of both celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be managed through lifestyle changes. Other benefits include increased energy levels, improved cholesterol levels, improved digestion and overall better health from eating fewer processed foods that contain gluten.
Lifestyle changes include:
Gluten-Free Diet: The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. However, even if you’re experiencing gluten intolerance either starting a gluten-free diet or reducing the amount of gluten you eat can lead to a reduction of symptoms.
It’s important to be aware of what foods are gluten-free:
Foods To Eat include:
Fruits and Vegetables
Meats and Fish
Nuts and Seeds
A gluten-free diet can include non-gluten grains:
also, gluten free flours:
Sweet potato flour
Being Aware of the Hidden Sources of Gluten: It’s important to be aware that there are hidden sources of gluten in everyday items. These include medications and supplements, beauty products, bullion products and food products labeled “wheat free”.
Consult a Doctor or a Nutritionist: Before starting any diet it’s important to consult a professional first before making a lifestyle change.
Being Aware that a Gluten-Free Diet will not Guarantee Weight-Loss: The change to a gluten-free lifestyle will not guarantee weight loss unless exercising more is part of your lifestyle change.
Take a Probiotic: After either eliminating or reducing gluten the next step is to restore your gut microbiome. By taking a specific probiotic that rebuilds immunity and digestive health you’ll be able to reverse many symptoms of gluten intolerance including, anxiety and depression.
Ways of Coping With Change Related Anxiety
Any kind of life change can be tough and changing your lifestyle is no exception.
When you become gluten-free your family and friends might start bugging you about your new diet. They may start saying comments or asking questions about your diet. Since it’s the holiday season the comments and questions will probably by centered around what you’re missing out on being gluten-free, but some people may not include you in their holiday festivities at all.
In order to avoid having a sense of anxiety and loneliness from the judgement of others that don’t understand your new gluten-free diet it’s important to reach out to like minded people. This can be achieved by meeting new people through support groups, social media forums or through mutual friends who are also gluten-free.
The anxiety that can occur when your life changes will pass eventually and when you download my anxiety expert guide and learn about some of my mentors it will help you in your journey toward a healthier life.