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A Gut Feeling

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

The slightest thing can change your mood.  It can take the smallest action or word, to throw you off course, and the impact can last for just a minute, an hour, a day, sometimes longer.

I run most days. I love exercise. I feel like I need exercise. During my run this morning, I had a light-bulb moment.

I was running along the pavement in the rain. After living in the Middle East for 14 years, this is not my favourite weather but doing my exercise won the debate that day!  A lady was talking towards me holding up her umbrella.  Let’s call her Nancy. We were both as far apart as we could be on the path, which is the ‘new norm’.  As we got closer, Nancy lowered her umbrella from her head and placed it in front of her face.  It all happened so quickly. Nancy was protecting herself from me!  My emotions did a jittery dance between finding it funny and then finding it extremely sad. 

I carried on running but my mood lingered on the sadness. Not for long but long enough to feel a tidal wave of emotion rush over me.  I felt the weight of the world on top of me; the fear that life has changed forever. 

My run took me past the town moor which is a beautiful green space where you wouldn’t expect to find it; so close to the city centre.  It feels like I’m running in the countryside here; there is a sense of freedom.  Today the cows were lying down peacefully munching the grass. They seemed to be quite comfortable with social distancing. 

I stopped and found myself gazing at a cow who was lying close to the railings.  He carried on munching and I just soaked in the calmness.  We chatted like old friends! Maybe it was a little one sided; but he was a great companion. 

I was drawn to appreciating the world and finding all the things to be thankful for.  This is something I do each evening, but you can never say too many thank yous.  Meeting my new friend was my trigger to flipping my mood.

So, what was my lightbulb moment? It was this. Not everyone is equipped to balance their mood so quickly.  I actively do things to help my mental health.  I choose high quality supplements, I eat a varied diet, I exercise, spend time outside and spend time every day being grateful.

The gut-brain connection is real; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa.  A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. So, a person's stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That's because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected.

Your gut and brain are connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produced in the brain control feelings and emotions. Interestingly, many of these neurotransmitters are also produced by your gut.  We know that a large proportion of serotonin is produced in the gut. Why would you be interested in serotonin?  Serotonin can be referred to as ‘the happy chemical’.  It contributes to our wellness and happiness.

I can most definitely recommend making friends with a cow to boost your mood.  Aside from that, don’t forget to look after your gut health too.  Be Gut & Mood Happy x

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