You can retrain your brain, even if you're dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or memory loss, says Laura Principe, a Calgary-based holistic mental health coach. Principe's knowledge comes not just from her education, but also first-hand experience. In an extremely candid interview, she explains she actually lived with debilitating depression and anxiety for years.
You can retrain your brain, even if you're dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or memory loss, says Laura Principe, a Calgary-based holistic mental health coach.
Principe's knowledge comes not just from her education, but also first-hand experience. In an extremely candid interview, she explains she actually lived with debilitating depression and anxiety for years.
"Sometimes I'd live in my pajamas for weeks at a time," she says. "I wouldn't take a shower.
"I began emotional eating and gained weight."
She did the usual treatments with doctors and prescriptions. Nothing helped until she hit rock bottom precipitated by the death of her dog and ending with a full-on nervous breakdown.
Slowly, she began one tentative step to help herself by learning about holistic nutrition to feed the brain. She also began working with a behavioural psychotherapist. Then in a Deepak Chopra Meditation Retreat in Whistler she had what she calls a spiritual awakening. The experience brought her clarity.
"I realized I had the power, the strength and the capability to find what I needed to heal," she says. "Life sucks without a healthy brain. Physical health, relationships, social life, work ... nothing is good without mental health.
"Issues are very common and very fixable," she adds. "Today I am a hundred and eighty degrees from where I was."
Healing involves mind, body and spirit. Essentially, Principe works to improve an individual's physical, mental and spiritual health.
The physical includes nutrition, mindful movement, breathing exercises, listening to body cues and detox. The mental includes life coaching exercises and looking at how you use language to talk to yourself. The spiritual involves meditation and intuition training.
"The first thing I do with clients is listen. People usually have the answers in the stories they tell about their lifestyles, and about what they're doing or not doing.
"We look for openings, for areas where they can make small changes. Once they start seeing results, they are more able to move on to other areas for improvement.
"I don't heal you. I help you heal yourself."
Is it possible for someone to do this on their own? "Yes, but they will probably need some sort of support, such as a friend or family member who can help them see what they can't see on their own."
What about memory issues? Can the brain be improved when it's faltering for age-related reasons?
"The brain can always always be retrained," Principe says. "Work on these areas [above] creates new neural pathways, resulting in a brain more capable of doing what it needs to do."
Indeed, Principe's opinions are supported by such gurus as Deepak Chopra, whose book Super Brain: Unleashing the explosive power of your mind to maximize health, happiness and spiritual well-being covers similar material. The book is co-authored by Rudolph E. Tanzi, one of the world's foremost experts on the causes of Alzheimer's. Tanzi is also a Harvard Medical School professor.
Principe's Fall Workshop How to Train Your Brain, Release Stress and Regain Mental Vitality starts on October 17th. Each week for six weeks there are classes on Thursday evenings covering mind, body and spiritual wellness. There are weekly exercise and meditation sessions, which are optional but recommended. There is also a workbook with exercises and assessments, and weekly one-on-one sessions.
Laura Principe can be reached through her website www.revivecalgary.com or at 403-862-2738.
CAUTION: Principe does NOT recommend abandoning your doctor or medications.