A treat for your brain, a trick to de-stress, and why it’s good to be a ghost
Let’s dive right into a grab bag of tricks and treats to recharge your wellbeing. 1. A treat for your brain If you’re feeling ghoulish, rather than looking for a neck to nibble on, instead reach for a handful of nuts mixed with dark chocolate chips. Your brain consumes more energy than any other organ in your body, so it’s worth knowing the types of food that your brain loves. According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, author of Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety, and a leader in the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry, your brain will shift into growth mode when you feed it oily fish such as wild salmon, sardines and anchovies, nuts, berries, and dark chocolate, but gets spooked when you give it processed food.
“Based on the evidence in 2021, if you are thinking about mental health or talking about mental health, you want to include food and nutrition in that conversation.”
- Dr. Drew Ramsey
Please enjoy this tasty conversation about the role of food and nutrition in mental health with doctors Ramsey and Chatterjee from the Feel Better Live More podcast.
2. A breathing trick
A couple of 5-Minute Recharges ago, I mentioned the 4-7-8 Ted Lasso breath as a quick way to calm down. But when it comes to breathing, it’s not one sigh fits all. A recent episode of The Tim Ferriss Show featured Dr. Andrew Huberman talking about the “physiological sigh” that's even simpler than the 4-7-8 breath. You may have seen your pet do a physiological sigh while sleeping, or a child during a crying fit: it’s a double breath in followed by a long sigh out. That’s it.
Here’s Dr. Huberman explaining the physiological sigh and why it works to quickly reduce your stress level.
3. Don't eat all your Halloween candy at once!
A psychological experiment—let’s call it the chocolate experiment—set out to measure enjoyment of chocolate under three conditions. In the first condition, subjects were given a piece of chocolate, rated their enjoyment of the sweet, and left with a bag of chocolate and instructions to eat as much from the bag as comfortably possible in the week ahead. The second group was told after eating and rating the chocolate to abstain from chocolate for a week, and the third group left with no instructions and no chocolate to take home. When the subjects returned the following week and were given a piece of chocolate, those who indulged all week on chocolate rated their enjoyment significantly less than those who abstained. The lesson? Take a break from what you enjoy to reset your happiness systems and renew your capacity to appreciate.
Find out more about the chocolate experiment from Elizabeth Dunn, the Canadian researcher who studies chocolate and how to spend money in ways to maximize happiness, in this sweet “Our Pursuit of Happiness” episode from The Hidden Brain.
4. Treat yourself, but don't forget others
Wellness, especially wellness tinged with a desire to maximize productivity, has a tendency to drift toward self-centeredness. Words like self-care, self-compassion and self-actualization seem to put the emphasis on the self, even when they often have positive spillover effects on others. Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky asks us to acknowledge that wellness is contextual and that some people have far more fertile ground in which to nurture their wellbeing than others. ccording to Dr. Prilleltensky, you can’t have wellbeing without a sense of fairness in your relationships, at work, and in your community, and the belief that you matter, that you feel valued by others. But there’s a word for people who feel too valuable. Narcissist. What we need to maximize our wellbeing, according to Dr. Prilleltensky, is a balance between feeling valued by others and adding value to others.
“You cannot truly matter unless you are adding value to other people.” - Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky
Please check out this treat of an interview with Dr. Prilleltensky from The Psychology Podcast.
The German language has some delightful words that capture states of mind such as maskenfreiheit, the freedom you feel when you wear a mask that disguises your identity. Taking a vacation from yourself and disappearing into a ghostly new persona has helped make Halloween one of North America’s favorite celebrations. Happiness evangelist Arthur Brooks recommends fading into a group at a concert or sporting event, striking up a conversation with a stranger who has no preconceived notions of who you are, or, time and money permitting, traveling anonymously, to enjoy the exhilaration of maskenfreiheit.
“The energy required to maintain your identity is probably greater than you realize, and finding a way to relinquish it regularly can help you recharge.” - Arthur Brooks
Find out more about maskenfreiheit and the horror of the “Pan Am smile” in “The Disguises We Wear Every Day” from The Atlantic.
Your 5-Minute Recharge Quote of the Week
“Don’t panic. Who do you want to be?”
May you be who you want to be,