We all know that exercise can make us more resilient in terms of physical strength, but how many of us set fitness goals for mental health? Self-care is linked to better mental wellbeing, self-esteem, self-worth, and optimism.
Practicing self-care means valuing ourselves enough to prioritize our wellbeing and happiness. When we don't, it can seriously impact us mentally.
Here are some simple daily practices for taking care of you. Brew a cup of Creation Cacao and read on.
Open Your Heart
Cultures have consumed ceremonial cacao for millennia as a healing tool and heart opener in ceremonies and rituals. It is believed this heart-opening is due to the cardiac stimulant theobromine, which research shows increases blood flow, stimulating the heart while relaxing blood vessels.
For a cacao product to be considered ceremonial, it must be pure cacao bean paste made from high-quality Criollo or Trinitario beans that are organic and ethically sourced and have not been subject to heavy processing or reduced to powders.
In this raw form, cacao’s bioactive chemicals, such as theobromine, tryptamine, tryptophan and amino acids, produce bliss chemicals that imbue feelings of joy, happiness, peace and harmony. Ceremonial cacao's ability to open up your heart space helps deepen your meditation, which elevates your mental state and lifts your mood.
Warm and Fuzzies
Cacao is said to boost the production of endorphins (aka the feel goods!), which bind with opiate receptors in the brain, resulting in feelings of euphoria.
Cacao is a rich tryptophan and theobromine source, boosting blood flow. It is believed tryptophan can increase serotonin synthesis in the brain, making it essential for mood regulation, and the more tryptophan that crosses the blood-brain barrier, the more your body synthesizes serotonin and the fewer lower mood or demotivated symptoms you may experience.
Cacao boasts incredible health properties thanks to plant compounds known as flavonoids.
Flavonoids are a plant chemical responsible for the vibrant colors of many fruits, vegetables and flowers. They aren't digested or absorbed like protein or carbohydrates, but instead, our gut bacteria break them down and use them to benefit different parts of our bodies.
Flavonoids aid blood pressure regulation, boost cerebral blood flow, and help prevent blood clots. Scientists have found that flavanols help increase brain function, stimulate neuronal function, improve brain blood oxygenation and positively impact cognition. This affects our ability to learn, memorize and focus. They also help reduce free radical damage, suppress cortisol, and reduce stress.
Take a breath
Studies show that the benefits of belly breathing help reduce stress and anger, improve relaxation and assist in overcoming fears. Shallow breathing or chest breathing, on the other hand, can contribute to poor digestion, lack of sleep, increased blood pressure, depleted mental focus and a drop in energy levels.
Deliberate control of the breath, or breathwork, has gained popularity in recent years for its therapeutic potential to improve mental health.
Breathwork refers to different breathing techniques that focus on your conscious awareness of your inhales and exhales using deep, focused breathing that lasts a specific amount of time. You intentionally change your breathing pattern during breathwork by breathing consciously and systematically. Many people report that breathwork promotes deep relaxation or leaves them feeling energized.