Big Brain-Little Brain: The Mental Health Connection

Did you know about the mental health connection between your big brain and little brain? Each of us has a big brain, contained in our skulls, and a little brain contained in the guts. (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say something else.) The reason the gut is called the second brain is because of the enteric nervous system (ENS). The enteric nervous system is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. Your ENS brain cannot add two and two or compose a poem. But the ENS can and does communicate with the big brain. It communicates through the nervous systems, through hormones, and through the immune system. More than 100 trillion organisms, collectively called the microbiome, exist in our bodies. (source.) The right microbes keep our gut healthy, turn off stress hormones, and help turn the food we eat into energy. The presence, strength, and number of these organisms signals our gut which in turn signals our brain. Too few of certain microbes may result in depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric diseases. A few studies show interesting connections. Patients with digestive issues (chronic constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, etc.) treated with psychologically based […]

Feelings-They Are All in Your Head and How to Make it Better

It’s winter in the northern hemisphere. Winter-the cold, dark, rainy, snowy, hibernation season. A season often associated with sadness and loneliness and isolation. UGH. Feelings—they are all in your head and how to make it better—are the focus of my Wednesday blogs this month. Because yeah, I have noticed a change in my moods and my partner’s moods. And because I have noticed some of you suffering from the same downswing in your moods. (This is where I have to put a disclaimer in. I have a tiny bit of training in psychology but I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. If your feelings are so intense they interfere with your day-to-day life. If you have difficulty keeping a job, eating, sleeping, personal hygiene—you need to learn to help yourself from a professional. Nothing in this blog or on the internet will help you as much. Can’t afford professional help? Ask your county mental health department for suggestions about where you might find professional help at a price you can afford.) When I started researching, I came upon the intriguing phrase, social isolation. Loneliness is a rising mental health concern. A quick google search yielded more than one hundred individual […]

My Frustration vs. My Patience, Which Will Win?

Are you stressed out? Does your stress levels have anything to do with the lack of patience? I confess, my stress levels are in large part due to my impatience. I’m tired of bad manners and bad behavior. I’m tired of people doing horrible things to one another—again. 2018 has been a year of frustration rolled up into one humongous rubber ball of stress. It’s been my frustration vs. my patience, which will win?  Patience you must have, my young padawan. Yoda (Star Wars) Never put passion before principle, even if you win, you’ll lose. Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid) What is patience? According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary it’s the capacity to bear opposition, difficulty or adversity calmly and without complaint. Experts differ in what to call patience. It’s a tool, a skill, an attitude, a genetic inclination, and a nurtured ability. It may not be easy to define or label but we all know when we have it…and when we don’t. The problem with Yoda and Mr. Miyagi’s advice, the problem with patience, is that frustration is a fact of life. It will happen, on a daily basis. Something isn’t happening fast enough, or the “right” way or the change that’s needed […]