I like to call GABA “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule”. It stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid – which is quite a mouthful. Here’s any easy way to understand what this neurotransmitter does…
You’re driving to work and you HAVE TO get there on time because you’re giving a huge presentation, or you’re headed to an important appointment or meeting. It’s been a hectic morning, traffic is a nightmare, you’re late, and you’re full of stress and anxiety about getting there on time.
You are OVERANXIOUS and your pulse is STUCK IN OVERDRIVE….THE OPPOSITE OF FEELING CONFIDENT AND RESILIENT.
Then the ABBA song “Dancing Queen” comes on the radio. How can you not love this song?! You’ve danced to it at weddings and parties…it’s a feel good song. You turn it up, belt it out, and find your muscles relaxing. You can feel the change in your chemistry and state of mind as the song goes on.
GABA (which sounds a lot like ABBA) is a sedative-like neurotransmitter that slows the firing of neurons in your brain. Anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax work by increasing GABA. When it’s higher you feel calm and relaxed, and you’re less stressed or anxious – YOU’RE FEELING ON IT.
Here are 6 easy ways to get more GABA:
3. High intensity interval training
4. Drinking green, black or oolong tea
5. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kefir or miso
6. Nuts, beans, and soy
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Our thoughts, feelings and emotions originate as chemicals. When our chemistry is off, there are significant shifts in our brain – our emotional state, how we process information, our communication style, how perceive ourselves and others – but especially in our sense of confidence.
Who are some of the most consistently confident people out there? PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES. They’re confident and successful in their performance because they’re very intentional about optimizing their chemistry through movement, food, visualization, goal setting, and beliefs.
WE HAVE TO OPTIMIZE OUR CHEMISTRY BEFORE WE CAN OPTIMIZE OUR CONFIDENCE, INTELLECT, AND POTENTIAL
I want to introduce you to the 5 CHEMICALS OF CONFIDENCE, how they work, and simple things you can do to increase or decrease them to be more confident, productive, and successful in work and life. It’s an opportunity for you to become your own Confidence Chemist!
Today’s Chemical of Confidence is SEROTONIN and I like to call it “The Confidence Molecule”.
You know when you’re feeling ON YOUR GAME? You’re in the zone and totally unflappable? You are focused, centered, happy, and confident? That’s serotonin at work.
Serotonin really changes your chemistry for the better. In fact, some of the most prescribed drugs for treating anxiety and depression like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil work by modulating levels of serotonin in the brain.
When serotonin is higher you:
- Feel confident
- Are more socially engaged
- Have a balanced mood
- Are less worried
- Sleep better
It makes you feel more self-assured and comfortable with putting yourself out there. You’re better at dealing with change and are less affected by stress and anxiety. You’ve got better energy and feel more grounded.
YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR CHEMISTRY AND BOOST YOUR SEROTONIN BY:
1. EXERCISE. Exercise increases the amount of serotonin your brain produces and releases. Multiple research studies have shown that exercise is as equally effective at boosting serotonin and mood as prescription medications are. And in some cases, exercise is even more effective! Don’t feel like you have to workout for an hour – even 5 minutes has been shown to change your mood.
2. DIET. Serotonin is not only produced in the brain, it’s also created in your gut and digestive tract. Confidence takes guts – but healthy guts specifically! Don’t stress yourself out on having the perfect diet or making huge changes.
Simply eat more of these:
- unprocessed foods
- whole grains
- fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir (a fermented milk)
- probiotics containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can also be helpful
And less of these:
- processed foods
- fast food
3. REFLECTION. You have the power to conjure serotonin with your thoughts. Taking a minute or two to reflect on a past achievement, victory or happy moment produces serotonin and makes you feel upbeat and confident. Create a daily gratitude list of 3 things you’re grateful for. Before facing a difficult situation, reflect on a past experience that you successfully overcame…or survived.
UP NEXT TIME: GABA, which is a great antidote for anxiety and has a lot of the same effects of Valium or Xanax.
In the past 10 months I’ve been “homeless”, made my wife quit her job, moved cross country, started over, cut back, lost my father, and am dealing with some family health crises. There have been several times when I’ve felt “over it”: overwhelmed, overstressed, and over my head. But I’ve also been feeling “on it”: on purpose, on fire and on cloud nine. Life is full of ups and downs…moments of incredible joy and pain and fear and bliss. Which is why resiliency is so important.
Here’s the skinny….
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