Practical Help for Calming the Mind -- Without Losing Your Focus

Posted On Monday, 07 May 2018
Practical Help for Calming the Mind -- Without Losing Your Focus

The month of May is packed with several Mental Health Awareness themes of which “National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week” is the biggest.

Of these two conditions, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults over the age of 18 or more than 18 percent of the population.

Even though there are effective means of managing anxiety, only 36.9 percent of sufferers are actually doing something about it. In fact, it is not uncommon for those with an anxiety disorder to suffer from depression or someone with depression to suffer from anxiety.

The two seem to go hand in hand, according to the AADA.

Granted, there are several types of anxiety of which many need to be treated by a qualified healthcare provider and with medications (please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your protocol), but let’s focus on milder conditions that will be associated with stress and our high-stress lifestyles.

A Harvard study found that our minds tend to wander more than 50 percent of the time and to quote the study, “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

Think about it (no pun intended), when your mind is distracted, it usually isn’t about pleasant topics. We drift off thinking about things such as paying bills, work stress, traffic, family responsibilities, etc., which boils down to our high-stress lifestyles making us think negative thoughts.

This prolonged negative mind-wandering contributes to a host of other potentially harmful health effects. Stress and worrying are not only bad for our brain, but also risk factors for digestive disorders, cardiovascular issues, weak immune system and loss of ability to concentrate and focus.

I realize by now that just by bringing the topic of mind-wandering and stress to your attention, I have contributed to one more negative thought you may have to think about. When our minds wander, we become less effective at our jobs, listening to loved ones, finishing tasks in a timely manner and so much more.

Luckily there are several natural botanical extracts/herbs, which can help calm you down, recover from stressful events and even help improve your ability to concentrate and focus while you are stressed. In fact, the supplements I am going to discuss have centuries of documented use and modern science to prove they work.

Let me take you on a short trip around the world to help you decrease the negative effects of your wandering mind.

Zembrin
Starting deep in the Southern Hemisphere in the country of South Africa, we find a specific succulent ingredient available as an ingredient in many products under the name Zembrin. We learned about this South African succulent from the native people known as the San Tribe. The San people have been chewing the leaves of certain succulents for hundreds of years to relieve pain, stave off hunger and enhance mood during long hunting trips. Recently, modern medicine took this succulent to a whole new level by making a standardized extract with specific characteristics unique to Zembrin.

Clinical research with Zembrin has shown its ability to improve cognitive function while reducing emotional distress, relieving tension and improving calmness and overall mood. I like to say it helps keep you calm, relaxed and focused without the drowsiness that often accompanies supplements that are intended to help manage stressful feelings and thoughts.

One small dose of Zembrin in the morning will help keep you calm and focused throughout the day and help you sleep better at night. An added benefit to Zembrin is that some of the various clinical trials showed that it works in as little as two hours. In natural medicine, it often can take weeks and even months to see or feel a difference yet with Zembrin people often feel the difference after the first dose.

I learned about Zembrin a little over a year ago and now work with the company that brought this ingredient to the United States.

Rhodiola
Continuing our trip around the world, our next stop is near the top of the world in Siberia. The herb Rhodiola has been used for centuries by the native people of Siberia to help them cope with the physical and mental stresses of living in the harsh environment of northern Russia. Rhodiola works in a completely different manner than Zembrin in that it acts as an adaptogen. Adaptogenic, meaning that it acts in non-specific ways to increase resistance to stress, without disturbing normal biological functions.

A number of studies have shown that Rhodiola can dramatically reduce mental and physical fatigue under stressful conditions, by increasing the body's energy levels. Unlike Zembrin that works within a few hours, Rhodiola can take a few weeks before you will notice the effects. Both Zembrin and Rhodiola can be taken at the same time for those who are seeking a more balanced approach to helping with their stress.

Passion Flower
Our last stop on our global tour for stress is in the middle of the globe in either Polynesia or Southern Mexico (take your pick--this herb is prevalent in both places)! Like Zembrin and Rhodiola, the herb passion flower has been used for centuries by local tribes in Polynesia or by tribes in the Aztecs. Passion flower was used to help with insomnia and hysteria by these tribes and still is today.

Unlike Zembrin and Rhodiola, passion flower does cause drowsiness and therefore needs to be used with caution. In fact, I often associate the effects on the body to being similar to having a cocktail. Just like an alcoholic beverage, you will get drowsy, be impaired and not be as sharp. My favorite uses for passion flower are for those who are stressed out and having trouble falling asleep. It does work quickly and if taken 30-45 minutes prior to bedtime will often help you fall asleep.

Keep in mind though that its effects may last until mid-morning which means you may have difficulty waking up or being functional at work. I suggest if you are going to try this herb that you do it on a night that you will not have to get up or drive so you can feel how your body reacts to it.

As we complete our trip around the world, we can see that there are several herbs that each work in unique ways to help with our stressful feelings and thoughts. Each has been used for centuries and now we have science to back up their use. If you are looking for a “calmer,” more focused you, then Zembrin would be the place to start. If stress has been a daily part of your life and you want to get it back into balance, then Rhodiola should be added into your daily supplement program too. If you are having trouble falling asleep, passion flower may be the route to go. Each can be used daily. Personally, I take Zembrin and Rhodiola daily to help keep me balanced, relaxed and focused.

Lastly, there are several other things we can do to help relieve our stress and contribute to overall improved health. Here is a quick list to help:

Prayer or mediation: In those moments that you catch yourself focusing on things you shouldn’t, try praying or meditating on things you are thankful or grateful for in your life. I pray myself to sleep by thanking God for things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Usually you will fall asleep before you finish the list. An example would be A is for Adam and Amanda (my children), B is for the beach I live near, etc. This technique teaches you to identify those times your mind is wandering on negative things and to help re-program your thoughts to be positive.

Exercise: Science has shown that increased exercise has multiple health benefits of which stress and mental health relief are a part. I suggest 30 minutes of brisk walking per day. Brisk walking is defined as a pace that would make you a bit short of breath if you were trying to have a conversation at the same time. Keep on moving and your stress will melt away.

Diet: Yes, what you eat and drink plays a huge role in your mental health and stress levels. Eating a “cleaner” diet that contains more fruits, veggies, nuts seeds and lean meats (fish, chicken, pork, beef) and avoiding processed foods (boxed and canned primarily) will fuel your body and brain to be more adaptable to stress and emotions. Avoid at all cost caffeine, nicotine (not a food but wanted to include it here) and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol are evil for those under stress.

Time management: Since most of us have a smartphone these days, use your reminders or calendar to schedule time to pray, meditate, exercise, etc. to help you learn a new lifestyle. If you don’t have a smartphone, use notes around your work and home environment to remind you. Be willing to say no to friends, family and coworkers so your day isn’t too crazy. Managing your day and night will go a long way to helping keep you stress-free.

Sleep: Make sure you get enough rest each night. The average person gets about 6-7 hours per night, which is not even close to the 8-8.5 hours we really need. Schedule yourself to go to bed at a specific time that will allow you the proper amount of time to sleep. Stop watching TV or using electronic devices at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled bedtime. Get the phone away from your bed and use an old-fashioned clock near your bed. You will be less inclined to look at your phone for messages or emails.

As you can see, there are several lifestyle changes and supplements that can help you decrease the amounts of stress you have and feel and keep your mind from wandering. Keep in mind that it may take you some time to learn new habits and in the meantime the use of supplements like those mentioned above will help.

David Foreman, RPh

David Foreman, RPh, is a pharmacist, author and media personality known to consumers nationwide as, “The Herbal Pharmacist.” Well versed on the healing powers of herbs, vitamins and other natural supplements and how they interact with pharmaceutical drugs, Foreman’s career as a registered pharmacist gives him the foundation to now impart his expertise in physiology, pharmacology and integrative medicine to educate consumers on cutting edge approaches to natural health and healing.

His shift from traditional pharmacist to herbal pharmacist was based on his belief that education is the key to understanding that natural health plays a vital role in mainstream medicine and he has dedicated his entire career to educating consumers about the benefits and power behind natural herbs, supplements and functional foods.

Foreman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, currently serves on Organic & Natural Health Association’s Scientific Advisory Board and is author of 4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease. Connect at www.herbalpharmacist.com and follow him on Twitter: @Herbalrph or facebook.com/TheHerbalPharmacist

Website: www.herbalpharmacist.com

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