Interview Dr. Andrea Nazarenko
Dr. Andrea Nazarenko is a research psychologist with the Obesity Research Team and Social Development Research Group at the University of South Carolina. She also works as a community psychologist, providing consultation services to multiple governmental and educational organizations.
How to Renew Health & Wellness:
1. Your FOOD determines your MOOD. We all know that eating well matters for our physical health, but did you know that it also supports mental health? We cannot feel well—physically or mentally—without the proper nutrition. Eat a clean diet of fresh foods (e.g., no processed foods, excess sugar, no hormones or antibiotics in meats, etc.) to fuel your body and mind. (Many of the neurotransmitters involved in anxiety and depression are actually synthesized in your gut.)2. Catch some Zzz’s. Our body and mind resets with rest. You must give yourself at least 7 hours sleep per night for your brain to be functioning correctly. Sleep helps us restore balance and handle stress in our environment. A tip for resetting your circadian rhythm? Focus on the time you wake up versus when you go to sleep. Keep a consistent wake up time daily (no fluctuations on the weekends!) to help create a routine.3. Shake, jiggle, and wiggle the worries away. Moving your body helps move your mood. When we exercise, we release endorphins in our brain that make us feel good. You don’t need to be a marathon runner or body builder to get movement in. Just take a pause from your normal routine and move your body. Dance. Swim. Jump on a trampoline. Ride a bike. Garden. Do yoga. Whatever you do, if you do things that bring you joy . . . feelings of wellness and happiness will be found!
4. BREATH. No matter where you are or how stressful life becomes, we always have our breath. It is free and with us at all times. Practice calm breathing to bring peace to your mind: Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds). Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds). Wait a few seconds before taking another breath.
5. Stop “should”-ing on yourself. Judgement is the thief of joy and we live in a time where we can’t keep up. We spend our days thinking about what we “should” do, “must” do, “ought to do”—we tend to judge our actions, inactions, emotions, and everything around us. Clean your mind by accepting yourself just as you are. Love yourself and all you’ve accomplished thus far in life. You made it through any hardships in your past. Celebrate! No need to compare yourself to an ideal version of yourself.
Interview: Dr. Andrea Nazarenko MA, MA, MAS, PhD
Author, When Food Hurts: 4 Steps to a Gut-Happy Lifestyle: Overcome Food Sensitivities, Eczema, ADHD, Autism, Digestive Problems, Depression, Anxiety, Brain Fog, Fatigue, Autoimmunity and Chronic Disease
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