September 19, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
If you are like me, the chances are you don’t celebrate your successes. Big and small. I mean (maybe) saying to yourself “good job” and moving to the next thing almost immediately. And still feeling dissatisfaction from the job not “really well” done, or thoughts “I could do it better,” or the feeling that there are better things out there to be done, etc.
The internal mental chatter doesn’t stop for most of us. I’m happy for you if you don’t have it – then copy the link to this article and send it to somebody who sill is going through it. They will thank you for that.
What I just described is a sign of “perfectionist gone unrealistic”. There is nothing wrong with striving to do a perfect job, that’s how we succeed in life and rise above our competitors. We want to do things better than others. Evidently, it stresses us out, and it’s ok – the short-term stress is a sign of an evolution, and it’s healthy. Problems happen when the suffering from the lack of complete perfection never stops. In fact, it gets worse with time, because every achievement in life “could be better,” so dissatisfaction accumulates.
It is such a crazy pattern if you think about it rationally. But our mind is far from rational. In fact, most of the time we are driven by our instincts, associations, habits, and emotions. Cognitive abilities are only one part of your brain; the rest is similar to animals. The cognitive mind is what differentiates us from animals, and the survival instinct can drive even cognitive behavioral patterns.
The problem with chronic emotional stress is that it is one of the main components leading to chronic adrenal fatigue – a debilitating physical condition that rarely resolves completely. The best preventative thing to do is recognize patterns leading you to experience chronic stress and resolve all the components of that pattern. When you start disassembling any pattern it has a good chance to dismantle. The next best thing is to know what you want to substitute it with.
So what do you define as an achievement?
I looked up the dictionary just now, and this is what I found:
achievement – 1. a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill: to reach this stage is a great achievement. 2. the process or fact of achieving something: the achievement of professional recognition | assessing ability in terms of academic achievement | a sense of achievement.
So, to achieve something you have to apply an “effort, courage, or skill” and recognize that you have a “thing done successfully.”
How would you know all of that? Does it come as an external feedback or an internal feeling? For different people it is a different experience, however, in both cases, it also has to do with how we interpret either.
The sense of satisfaction and achievement is a matter of belief system related to pride, survival, and leadership. Any constricting beliefs related to it will impact the way we feel satisfied. We start building this particular complex belief system early in life – as our family and society interpreted our first actions in their world. Please note: “in their world.” Based on their values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices. You had to comply.
Well, many years passed, and now it’s all up to you how you want to experience your life, and you have been doing well for yourself (for example you have a computer and internet to read this article).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be more joyful about your small and big achievements, and left judgmental of yourself and others?
Even if you already are, how much more joy can you take?
Practical Steps to Feeling an Achievement:
- Know where you are going so when you get there you will be able to recognize it.
It’s like if you are traveling to mt. Everest but have no way of knowing you got there because there are no big signs identifying the place (actually for mt. Everest there are signs, but for smaller mountains there are none).
How will you know you got there? What is the physical evidence you did it? What is different in your life – physical and emotional compared to before?
2. When you have any evidence of an accomplishment, notice the internal talk.
Recognize whose words are these words. Whose voice is that voice? Where is the talk coming from? The chances are – it’s the same talk all over again you remember for many years. Perhaps it’s even not your talk. In my case, it always was my mother’s or my father’s phrases, depending on the situation. Recognize it and change it to the following: If it was an achievement of somebody you love the most in the world what would you say to them? Say it to yourself out loud and replace the old talk with the new affirmative sentences. It’s your mind to claim it back to yourself – nobody has a right to occupy your mental space, even your parents.
3. Recognize milestones you met on the way to the bigger goal.
Think big and act step by step. With every milestone, you are closer to the top. Feel yourself a little better with each of them accomplished, take time to recognize the internal feeling of completion, and take a deep breath. We, achievers, don’t breathe deeply and we need to start doing it if we want to live better lives and achieve more.
4. Write down things you learned on the way.
Not necessarily skills but everything about yourself. Skills are important, but personal discovery is the key to everything else. Did you learn patience, recognized some emotional triggers, met with a challenge in communications, made the same mistake as last time? It’s all valuable, don’t take it for granted and learn from it – it’s an accomplishment on its own.
5. Take a deep breath after you complete a long project.
Make some time to do nothing, look into your notes of all you accomplished, all you learned, the way you grew. Imagine, how it can help you and your loved ones in the future.
And, if you are enjoying striving for perfection, keep the good work setting your goals high and dreaming big. Know your physical and emotional boundaries and limitations, and every day make choices moving you closer to your destination. Good luck!
August 31, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
We all want to start our day will good energy and carry it on through the day. We want to achieve something, or just plain feel good.
Starting your day is directly related to how you ended your previous day. The state of your mind in the evening and the quality (and quantity) of your sleep will affect not only the energy you have the following day but your overall health – your digestion, immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and everything else.
Many of us can remember all-nighters we were able to pull off and get away with it next day. Some of us still do that, and it’s getting harder to maintain good health without good sleep. Sleep is the king!
During sleep, your body undergoes substantial repairs, and your brain undergoes maintenance as the cellular waste is being flashed from it. It takes a lot of energy to do all this work, and the deeper you sleep, the more successful these repairs and detox.
So it requires some changes in your lifestyle to start towards better night rest. Perhaps not every day, but most days during the week you can perform all the steps. Other days do only your favorites. But once you setup your night environment it will be easy.
I recommend being home for 2 hours before the bedtime. I cannot do it every day because I go out dancing at least once a week, and dance socials such as Argentine tango and Salsa dancing all start very late. So I have to modify this night ritual and feeling less energy next day. I will share in a different post what I do in the morning to get myself back to high energy.
In my LightenUp Body&Mind Transformation program I actually present a Night Ritual as one of essential parts of the program.
So here it is – the 15 steps to better sleep – The Night Ritual.
- Move electronics out of your bedroom. Do it once for a more permanent staff like TV, and every day for smaller stuff like iPads and consoles. I’m surprised that many people find it impossible to do. TV in the bedroom is a big problem for every are in your life. Seriously, move it out.
- Shut down all the screens. Blue light is very stressful for your nervous system. Make sure you have filters or software on your electronic devices to get rid of the blue light.
- Many people use phones as alarms and running apps for measuring sleep/snoring/etc. Put your phone in airplane mode, and turn it face down.
- If you use standard alarm – block it, so you don’t see the screen.
- Keep the temperature cooler during the night than through the day. The best sleep temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees.
- At least two hours before bedtime stop eating anything and don’t drink alcohol. The best it to have your last bite before 7 pm, and have only water or herbal tea after. Sometimes it’s not possible but still, keep it in mind.
- Clean up your environment. It is much better to sleep in a clean room knowing that in the morning you will wake up to an organized space.
- Prepare your morning clothes, so you don’t have to waste your brain power on ordinary tasks. Even if you are going to work out in the morning – prepare your workout outfit and sneakers.
- Relax with a book.
- Get blackout curtains and block all the light sources you can. Get your bedroom as dark as possible.
- If you cannot fall asleep for 30 min – get up, go into another room, have dim lighting only and repeat some of your routines. After 15 minutes you can then go back to bed and try to fall asleep again.
- Drink a cup of herbal tea while reading or listening to relaxing music.
- Journal about the day and write down tasks for tomorrow.
- Take at least 10 minutes to practice mindful relaxation and spiritual practices. Usually, spiritual practices take longer. Examples – Prayer, Meditation, Breathing, Qigong.
- When you are in bed with your eyes closed – practice gratitude. First – appreciate defeats – they teach you valuable lessons. Then – recite gratitudes for which is good and positive in your life – name every little thing and be grateful for it.
Download the “Tibetan Exercise For Hormonal Balance” guide. It will help you to get up in the morning with much better energy.
The steps are not in specific order, and you can move them around, create new steps, and do whatever is necessary to fit it into your idea of relaxation.
But the main idea is this – create an environment in which every night you will be able to be repaired and washed on the cellular level.
Everything is better with health. And sleep is one of its main components.
August 23, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
In my previous blog I shared with you 2 steps to achieving a better brain performance – one of my favorite things in the world. Yes, I’m a total fan of pick performances of any sorts, and I even had to do some inner work to tone it down a little. Otherwise, perfectionism can backfire. I’m sure some of you, my readers, can relate to that. Perfectionism can affect our performance, increase stress, etc. this month I’ll be writing about working around it without losing the quality of whatever you are doing.
And today I’ll share with you 2 more steps to how to get the maximum out of your brain without getting depleted, and with some additional benefits.
I noticed that many people are not ecstatic about going to the gym. And this is why we have such a massive explosion of exercise videos – which most of us buy and never use. What are the alternatives and how training activities are related to you brain performance?
Since time beginning people moved their bodies all the time. We are mammals, and we share many features with animals. For example, we host many thousands of various parasites that help us in daily life… But this is another topic we will cover in another post.
In Chinese medicine, we talk about Qi – life force, and how our blood carries Qi and Qi helps to move blood. By the way, recent Netflix Marvel series talk about Qi, and they are accurate in their description. I really like the “Iron Fist” series!
There are ways to cultivate Qi through meditation, QiGong, and lifestyle choices. It has a direct impact on the way you can concentrate and control your mind, so it does what you want it to do rather than running like a wild monkey being manipulated by external influences. (I’ll talk about it in my next blog post)
In contemporary medicine, we speak of blood and lymphatics which constantly have to be moving to deliver nutrients to the cells (blood) and propagate immune system through the body (lymphatics).
To have it happen, we have to move, except when we sleep, because at that time other processes happen that are directly related to a daily movement of body fluids. The better all these processes happen, the better blood flow to the brain is.
A human nervous system consists of central and peripheral nervous system, the brain being a controller sending and receiving messages, and every tiny area of your body participating in that messaging. Approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart is pumped to the brain. The brain needs constant blood flow to keep up with the heavy metabolic demands of the neurons. The brain also uses 15-20% of the body’s oxygen supply. There are other factors affecting blood flow in the brain, but the amount oxygen is of vital importance.
So the better we breathe, the more oxygen is available to the brain.
Imagine how deeply will you breathe sitting all day long at your cubicle, or driving everywhere, and then being sedentary at home. You don’t need a high-intensity exercise to oxygenate your brain, in fact, low-intensity activity like walking oxygenates your brain without expanding oxygen on other parts of your body.
High-intensity exercise, on the other hand, expands your blood vessels, and long-term exercise may promote new blood vessel growth that increases blood flow into the brain.
1. walk in the morning for at least 20 min
2. practice deep breathing at least for 5 minutes in the morning and before you are going to bed
3. at least once a week do high intensity exercise for at least 30 min
4. at least once a week do weight-lifting exercise
5. every day engage in some meaningful movement – dancing, yoga, pilates, prolonged walking, etc. It will help your brain to grow new neurons.
Food is the Information your body receives.
Your digestive process is complicated, yet it’s one very long tube starting at the mouth and ending at the rectum. Your life sustaining functions are happening between these entry and exit points. Period. It’s straightforward.
So, how your digestion actually happens. It starts in the mouth with saliva digesting carbohydrates (chew your food properly!). This glucose becomes immediately available for your brain, but keep in mind – artificial and toxic sweet foods are extremely dangerous to your brain – and when you put them in your mouth, your brain gets poisoned almost immediately.
Your digestive tract secretes many enzymes helping you to extract nutrients from your food. So – two things are important – the food that you eat and the quantity&quality of enzymes that your gut can produce. And even further down the digestive tube, another thing becomes even more important – the bacterial flora you have in your belly. What digests your food and impacts your life is the micro biome you are hosting in your body. You have thousands of bacteria living in you in a symbiotic relationship – give and take in harmony. Problems start when bad bacteria overgrowth good bacteria. When all is in balance, your body can compensate for bad bacteria. However when foods that you eat and stress you are putting your body through disturb that balance the bad bacteria growth and good bacteria dies.
It directly impacts your mood, clarity of mind, focus, sleep, allergic reaction, etc. You name it.
1. chew your food – 30 chews per bite
2. after each meal observe – do you have bloating or gas? make a note what you ate
3. after each meal follow – are you more energetic or you are fatigued? Make a note on that. It is useful information.
4. look at your food and decide – what information this food will give your body. Is it pick performance food, is it clean and nutrient dense and can sustain and improve your life?
5. observe your bowel movements. they have to be at least once a day with smooth consistency.
6. thank your body for performing all these complicated life-sustaining tasks for you. Put in your body only what it will be beneficial for it.
In my next blog entry, I’ll share one more practical steps to a Pick Brain Performance – Mind Training.
If this information picked your curiosity, let me know by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for more concrete steps.
August 16, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
Is anybody out there experiencing less than wanted brain power? Outdated research suggests it is related to old age. However more and more research and common sense suggest in most of the cases it has very little to do with actual age, but more with what were you doing with your life all these years. The ways you managed to damage your body with lifestyle choices and impact your mind with all the stress and toxic thoughts.
Ok, it’s not only you, but it’s also me too. We all are “guilty” of that because we just didn’t pay attention while feeling pretty good most of the time. But deterioration creeps up; it doesn’t immediately show itself. It takes years for symptoms to show up. Especially the nervous system symptoms.
Do you think it’s hard to custom design your life? Do you believe it’s for the rich and wealthy only?
Your lifestyle is ensuring your brain’s top performance state. It has the complete ability to make you rich and wealthy. However, not even all rich people have good health and mental state. In fact, a very few people do, and we hear about their success on mass media. These people take every minute of the day thoughtfully, they implement particular mind techniques (like NLP) and watch what they eat – not only to “look good” but for clear thinking.
Let me share with you some important information on how you can achieve your brain pick performance state. It’s a lot of info so I divided it into two posts – this one is the first. Here you go:
- Eat Your Way to Mental Clarity
You cannot expect to keep eating crappy food and think straight at the same time. Maybe you didn’t feel it years ago when you were young and could “digest nails.” But two things changed: you and food. You got older, and the food got worse. There is no way around it.
Bread, grains, dairy, sugary/sweet foods, vegetable cooking oils, preservatives, GMOs, hormone pumped meat, pesticides, all raise insulin levels, increase fat, raise leptin (fat hormone), promote candida growth and have more undesirable effects on your body.
When your digestive system starts resembling swamp – your brain cannot function properly. The mental fogginess happens, memory weakens, it’s hard to concentrate, etc. And what discourages people when they get on the right path to change their eating habits is the fact that it’s not happening instantly. Some people say “it didn’t work.” Of course, you are not going to say that and going to stick to the healthy eating habits, but some people give up way too fast and easy. Just saying… Don’t be like that.
Over years of incorrect nutrition you could develop food sensitivities, allergies, toxic accumulation happened, and now your body is required the new personalized plan of how to get out of trouble.
You need a plan how to create a lifestyle of healthy eating regular, organic, nutrition dense real foods.
2. Sleep Your Way to Brain Rejuvenation
If you want your brain to function better, then it does now you got to have a good night sleep. People with an adrenal deficiency – who burned their energy resources through overworking and excessive stress – they cannot even get enough sleep.
During sleep, your body is undergoing essential repair functions, and it requires a lot of attention. If you don’t sleep enough, your body starts doing it during waking hours (and as it requires you being more or less still) you get exhausted.
You need to sleep 8 hours in complete darkness, preferably with cold temperature. The best is to fall asleep before 11 pm. The darkness increases the melatonin – your body clock hormone, and you can fall asleep easier. Move the electronics and everything with blue lights out of the room.
You are regenerating your mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of the cell) during your sleep.Your stress hormones decline so your brain can pay attention to self-regeneration.
Plus, as a bonus, your mind becomes more creative just by you sleeping between 11 pm, and 3 am ( according to the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine).
I’ll take more creativity – sign me up!
Both of the steps above are huge and I’m inclined to write much more on them in my future posts. In fact, both of them can make complete books that by themselves can make your life amazing.
In my next blog entry, I’ll share 3 more practical steps to a Brain Pick Performance.
If this information picked your curiosity, let me know by emailing me email@example.com and ask for more interesting and relevant information.
August 4, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
We don’t think about hormones when in our 20s, and most of us don’t even know what the are. Maybe we start thinking about it in our 30s when something goes wrong, like infertility or low libido, or we noticed changes in our parent’s life and health. Anyway, when we are young we don’t think about chemical processes in our body, and yet these processes are nothing short of a miracle. The miracle which we can regulate.
Read along, and you will learn why you need to know your hormone levels from the blood or saliva tests. So you will know what to demand from your doctor.
There is a bit of a conflict between popular opinions on health. The old traditional medicine lets you believe you have very little control over your body, and when something is off your best bet is a prescription medication, surgeries, etc. That somebody else will be in charge of your well-being.
The other polar opposite lets you believe that you are completely in control of everything going on in your life. The power of mind, and the way you eat will solve all the problems. It is an attractive viewpoint, and it’s here because a majority of people are tired of not being in control and not getting results. We want to feel better, be younger, and have more energy. So the modern “gurus” are selling just that – you can do everything by yourself, and all the “wonder” supplements are sold online and preached from TV screen.
It’s unfortunate that with rapid technological advances we are still not being properly guided by professionals. And the fact that greed drives the reckless advertising behavior.
So what is the solution? Are you in control or not?
The answer lies in-between. You are in control of doing the research and self-education not from Google (that has everything under the sun) but from trusted professionals you can find. You are in control of asking direct questions from your doctors expecting educated answers back. You are in control of keeping records of your medical tests, keeping in your life only what benefits you, participating in events that empower you and communicating with people who help you grow in positive light.
How hormones tie to that? A lot of things can alter your hormonal balance, and it affects your mood immediately. Nobody will feel it better than you, and you got to learn how to notice these feelings. And then you can take action to do something about it.
Hormones are chemical messengers that set everything in motion. They run back and forth between your brain and various body organs giving out directions on what to do and how to do it. For you, everything is happening automatically – your heartbeat, breathing, growth, digestion, and so on, when in fact there is a whole transportation system in working inside your body 24/7. It ensures that automated system is functioning flawlessly, or to be realistic, as flawlessly as it can, given the specific conditions your body is in. About 50 different hormones are circulating through your body all the time. Some of them are steroids, some – peptides, some – neurotransmitters, and some are combinations of the above. I will talk about the most common ones and their connection to the mood.
Keep in mind that balance of hormones can be achieved naturally. There are times when some people take hormone substitution like creams and medication, and for various reasons decide to stop. The withdrawal can create anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Fluctuating Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone
For healthy young people, these 3 hormones are balanced. Man and women have them in a different proportion, and these hormones are responsible for our sexual development as well as some other factors
As you experience changes in your body (such as prolonged stress, junk food, pregnancy, toxic exposure, etc.), these hormones start fluctuating and affecting your nervous system and production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin – a happy hormone.
A critical thing to know that nutrients play a major role in hormone production. Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to hormonal dysfunction. Some lifestyle habits can seriously affect hormones and vital organs associated with them.
Let’s take a look at 3 hormones (out of 50) that majorly affect your state of mind:
- Estrogens are neuro protective by helping the formation of new synapses in the brain. The healthy estrogen levels contribute to maintaining serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels – the neurotransmitters regulating your mood. Low estrogen can create havoc in your moods – such as depression, brain fog, anxiety, irritability, as well as weight gain and other physical health conditions.
- Progesterone has an anti-anxiety effect by acting on GABA receptors in the brain. The role of GABA neurotransmitter is to promote relaxation and sleep. In the brain, it helps balance excitation with inhibition. Often with age progesterone levels fall and estrogen levels are remaining high due to toxic exposure, being overweight, birth control pills, incorrect nutrition, etc. It creates a dangerous condition called “estrogen dominance” – when relative levels of estrogen and progesterone are tilted towards estrogen (there is a formula to calculate the ratio). There are multiple reasons why it can happen, and it might lead to serious health issues.
- Testosterone is a vital sex hormone that plays an important role in health for both man and women. It is responsible for energy, sex drive, memory, concentration, and many other functions. Elevated levels contribute to anxiety, rage, anger, and can lead to dangerous health issues. When decreased it can lead to depression, fatigue, muscle loss, cognitive decline, and more.
Other hormones are also playing significant roles in emotional and physical health. They include cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and others. There are ways to balance them all with a strategic integrative approach.
My suggestion is to make all the healthy changes in your life, monitor your hormone levels, and only then decide if you want to give the power of your body to prescription medication. Sometimes it’s necessary, but most of the times you can give your awesome body a chance to restore its healthy state.
July 23, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan
So you decided to do something, you are very motivated, time is right, conditions are perfect (well, almost), and you even told some people about your plan. You are ready to start. “Monday. This week. Oh no, not this week… it’s a friend’s birthday, and then the forecast said it would be raining; next week my family is coming to visit. Ok, next month will be perfect.” Silently though there is some self-loathing starts creeping up, and you reserve to old self-destructing habits you are trying to overcome. A classic Catch-22. We all been there!
Actions are great; they are awesome, I love action perhaps a little bit too much, that’s why for me it is especially difficult and important to understand, learn, and incorporate what I’m about to share with you. And you heard it many times before I’m sure, and perhaps even tried it too. But I will remind you again, and I’ll do it in the way I usually do – we will practice together.
When you decide to do something based on the feelings you are experiencing, your emotional self is getting engaged. Pure emotions are great, and they can get you places. However, they don’t last long as being replaced with other daily emotions. Therefore these decisions are short lived as well.
There is a way to decide to do something and achieve it. Your brain has an amazing ability to help you achieve your goals when you set them in clear and precise way. At the same time, your brain is already pre-wired to keep you safe and in your comfort zone. So it’s a bit of a conflict for the brain – you want something but if it’s not in your comfort zone – which means for the subconscious part of the brain that what you want might be potentially dangerous for you. It’s not cognitive thinking – it’s rather a survival mechanism.
Every change can bring growing pains of stretching your imagination, your cognition, and most of all your comfort zone.
Therefore you got to set goals smartly – that will override limiting portion of your brain’s protective mechanism.
So, I can think of 2 ways to set goals:
- Based on everything you ALREADY know, your old beliefs, existing limitations, skill set. It works well with everyday routine tasks, when it already works well and spending energy doesn’t make sense. Like brushing your teeth, making your bed, or some small task you mastered to the level you are satisfied with.
- When you really want something you don’t have/can’t do yet, you actually have to set your goals ABOVE what you BELIEVE is achievable by you. That will stretch your mind and even scare you (so you might start making excuses to revert to old ways). And there is a trick to do it.
I will talk about the 2nd way.
Say, you want to lose weight, and you have been 20 (or more) lbs overweight for 20 years. Your mind and your body got the set point of your “comfort zone” – your current weight. Even though it’s not comfortable, it is there. Therefore, it’s “safe.” Your current beliefs are that this is what you weight, you see yourself in the mirror, you have that size clothes, you see this number on your scales, and you talk about it including negative self-talk. You created a sort of an ecosystem with your current body setup.
To make you successful in achieving your goal you must do 3 things:
- Condition your brain for success – to override old beliefs and habits
- Define motivation that is much stronger than old beliefs and habits
- Create a clear and precise plan based on your motivation and SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based
It definitely takes time to do it and you are worthy of this time to create a life lasting change that will enable you to live freely, be successful, be able to come up with new goals, and to stretch your imagination. So you will be enjoying opportunities and achievements in every area of your life.