Ever notice how the littlest things can sometimes make the biggest difference? Sometimes when we are stressed out and not feeling our best one small tweak can really help. The little difference maker here involves my big Uncle Cliff. He's a big man, a man's man. Farmed his whole life and earned a honest living. The lines on his weathered face tell his story. Now I have a huge family, I'm talking 24 sets of aunts and uncles huge! Good Roman Catholics of course. Uncle Cliff has always been one of those relatives that you may see at the odd wedding or funeral but don't really know. Oh sure, I try and make small talk and ask him the typical "city slicker" questions like "how's your crop looking this year" He says something that includes the phrase "bushels to the acre" and I'm lost, but I figure at least I tried. So a few months back, I was caught totally off guard when my big Uncle Cliff calls me out of the blue. He's never called me. It went something like this... "Yeah, Darren, it's your Uncle Cliff here, I hear you speak about stress and stuff" (no pleasantries, right to the point, gotta love him.) "I haven't been feeling so good lately and Auntie Edna said I should give you a call." After talking for a little bit, it seemed my big Uncle Cliff had many of the symptoms of low serotonin, our bodies natural "good mood" fluid. He was feeling agitated, having a hard time focusing and found he was worrying a lot and having a hard time turning off these racing thoughts. I tried to confirm my suspicions with a few questions. "Uncle Cliff are you getting enough protein, like meat for example? Because protein is what your body uses to make serotonin." My uncle replied, "Heck ya, I eat a ton of meat ... so I must be good then." I said, "Hold on Uncle Cliff, that's just part of it. Are you eating any veggies with that meat?" The phone was silent. I said, "How about vitamins, are you taking any vitamins?" "No, I've never been much for that kind of stuff." In my workshops, I share a tool called the "Serotonin Engine" Tool. It explains the foods and activities your body relies on to make serotonin and keep you feeling good. I found out my uncle was missing some of the key components our body uses to convert protein into serotonin. Vitamins B, C and D are really important in helping your body to make serotonin. In addition, your body also relies heavily on omega-3 oils (fish oils) to help your brain utilize serotonin effectively. I told Uncle Cliff to try adding some of these vitamins to his diet, after he cleared it with his doctor of course. I got another call from my uncle a few months later. In classic Uncle Cliff style, It was short but heart felt. "Darren, it's your Uncle Cliff, just wanted to say I've been takin those vitamins and I am feeling a lot better. So I just wanted to tell you that and say, you know...thanks" Uncle Cliff, it was my pleasure...oh, and I hope your crops are looking good. P.S.- this email was 100% Uncle Cliff approved!
Destress Tip: First off, kudos to my Uncle Cliff for feeling lousy and doing something about it. Most men, especially men from his generation are too proud to ask for help. Second, while I was really pleased that a little change, such as a few key vitamins, made a big difference for him, it's not always that easy. If you are not feeling great and you have tried some of the basics we've talked about here and still aren't feeling good, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Statistics show that two out of every three people who feel this way never seek help. The best place to look for help is your family doctor or even a naturopathic doctor if you prefer. There is a lot that can be done to boost your serotonin levels and help you to feel your best again. The following website is a listing for naturopathic doctors across Canada www.cand.ca
Quote to Ponder: "Although there is a great deal of controversy among scientists about the effects of ingested food on the brain, no one denies that you can change your cognition and mood by what you eat." - Arthur Winter