In her new book State Change, Dr. Robin Berzin, MD, explores the newest science of optimizing the body to achieve peak mental health and emotional well-being. In it, Dr. Berzin outlines a 30-day plan to beat burnout, end anxiety and boost energy.
Dr. Berzin is a physician and the Founder and CEO of Parsley Health, America’s leading holistic medical practice designed to help women overcome chronic conditions. Her new book, State Change, is out now.
We recently caught up with Dr. Berzin to talk about her book and how she has made it her mission to help shine the light on all the intricacies of women’s health and the interconnectedness of mental well-being and its physical barriers. Dr. Berzin offers a path forward, and a call to action for women to take control of their health and to dispel the myth so often heard by many suffering from mysterious and/or chronic ailments that it’s “all in your head.”
In State Change, Dr. Berzin highlights five core actions that she claims have the biggest impact on our bodies and minds. Here she shares them plus her suggestions for how to address them for ultimate impact.
5 Core Actions With Biggest Impact on Body and Mind
Research shows that the way we eat, move, sleep, drink, and interact with technology greatly impacts how we feel, Dr. Berzin says. “We do ourselves a disservice when we fail to think about how our mood is impacted by what we eat every day, how we move every day, and how we interact with technology. These things are not habits. These things are core to who we are and are defining actions for how we feel.”
Food and lifestyle account for 90% of all medical outcomes, which means that if we’re treating these issues as if they’re purely physical, we’re not getting to the root of the issue. We’re just slapping a Band-aid on the problem. In order to really feel good, we need to pay closer attention, and there are five core actions that are closely linked to achieving a state change.
1. Move your body to train your brain
It doesn’t just matter that we move–it matters how we move, too. Movement is how our bodies process emotion, and when we cross-train, we can train both body and mind. That is, if you’re doing hour-long HIIT exercises, your brain might think that you are running from a lion, worsening your state of constant fight or flight.
For peak mental health, mix it up with a balance of strength building, cardio, and controlled, nervous-system relaxing practices like yoga or qigong.
2. Food is medicine for your mood
What we eat matters. It determines how well our bodies manage stress and build healthy brain connections. For example, choosing omega-3s over omega-6s is critical to reducing brain inflammation and increasing mood. In excess, omega-6s–found in high amounts in vegetable oils, for example–can harm brain cells, increase neuroinflammation, and reduce your body’s ability to use serotonin.
A good way to get omega-3s in your diet is to shift to a plant-based paleo diet rich with leafy greens, EVOO, salmon, eggs, and fermented foods to fortify your microbiome.
3. Sleep is when your brain takes out the trash
It’s a myth that some people can run on 5-6 hours of sleep. It is critical for your mental health to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Because sleep isn’t just about rest–it’s also when our brains take out the trash. Throughout the day, neurotoxins and other brain debris accumulates; it is only when the body is in deep sleep that the brain can tidy up. If this crucial cleaning process is skipped, neurotoxins can build up and make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s, mental/emotional instability, and poor decision making. Indeed, just one night of poor sleep can ratchet up your anxiety by 30%, according to UC Berkeley.
4. Re-evaluate your relationship with tech
The average American spends 11 hours a day staring at a screen. And it’s bad for our brains. Screens increase feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and lower self-esteem. Not to mention how much it affects sleep patterns. Blue light isn’t the only culprit here; screens trigger our fight-or-flight response, driving up cortisol levels, and leaving us in a state of hyper-arousal without our natural bedtime cues.
I suggest shutting down all screens by 9 p.m. and limiting social media time to one hour a day.
5. Limit your alcohol intake
Many of us aren’t aware how much alcohol is affecting our sleep and driving up anxiety and depression levels. There is, of course, an important line between alcohol use, abuse, and addiction. Addiction is a disease and for anyone suffering from alcoholism, I recommend no alcohol at all.
For those misusing or abusing alcohol, I recommend cutting back alcohol use to three times or less a week to increase energy levels and improve sleep.
To learn more about the lessons in State Change and Dr. Berzin’s 30-day plan to beat burnout, end anxiety and boost energy, check out:
How to End Anxiety, Beat Burnout and Boost Energy, According to Top Holistic Doc Robin Berzin