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Day 8: The physiology of joy

October 22, 2023

I was going to call this post “The physical side of joy” but that sounded a bit dirty. Maybe it’s just me 😀

Yesterday was wonderful. After I published my blog, I received so many messages of love and support from friends and family.

I went out for dinner on a total high. I was feeling so good I decided to walk to the restaurant in the rain. I didn’t bother to put in my headphones and listen to a podcast, book or music. I just walked, marvelling at how fortunate and happy I felt.

I confess I didn’t make it all the way to the restaurant without phoning to be rescued when the rain got torrential but nevertheless, when my friends and I arrived at the restaurant, I was on cloud 9. My three dinner companions are three of my favourite people and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of our little gang.

We’d decided on Indian food and, although I’m usually fairly restrained when it comes to eating out, I completely let myself go last night. I had wine, curry, naan bread, popadoms and even an onion bhaji. This much food is unheard of for me and I didn’t even notice how much I was eating until I got home and felt horribly ill. (Nothing to do with the restaurant – the food was excellent)

I slept badly and my tummy was very unhappy for most of today. But here’s the interesting part…I was miserable for most of the day!

I felt lethargic, tetchy and just completely ‘meh’ all day. I couldn’t be bothered with anything and the buzz of yesterday was nowhere to be felt.

The Practical Implications

Something I learned very early on in my journey towards more stable mental health was the strong link between gut health, brain health and mental health.

The last 24 hours has been a stark reminder of that. When I fail to take care of my body, I fail to take care of my mind, mood and energy – and without stability in those three areas, there’s very little chance of living joyfully.

With this in mind, would I do things differently next time? Probably. It’s nice to let my hair down once in a while but I’m pretty sure I could have done it without getting myself into such a mess.

Back when I quit drinking for a year I learned that time with friends can feel equally delightful with or without alcohol and I’m fairly certain the same is true for naan bread!

I’ll be a little kinder to my body next time and a little more mindful. As Daniel Amen says, “choose foods you love, that also love you back.”

I used to think of healthy food as some sort of punishment and deprivation but the last 5 years have shown me that my health is the absolute foundation of every other aspect of my life and it’s worth making the effort to look after it.

How do you feel about eating for nutrition and health?

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