These days are pretty crazy, huh? 2020 has been an insane year so far, and it’s difficult to stay sane for such a long and challenging period of time.
So today I want to share some of the strategies that I’ve been using to keep my sanity. They really keep me feeling more awake, alert and healthier in general.
I will also dive deep into each strategy and tell you a little bit about why these strategies work.
2019 prepared me for this
I have a couple of strategies that I implemented in my life in 2019, which was even more difficult and challenging for me, compared to 2020.
It feels like 2019 was a kind of preparation for this year. Of course, there are challenges now, but it’s not nearly as tough as 2019 thanks to these habits that I installed.
So I want to share the strategies I apply in my daily life that have helped me. I’m sure that if I wasn’t doing these things, I’d go completely mad.
I would have lost my mind by now.
Is your brain on fire?
The main principle is inflammation, especially of the brain.
Our body tends to create anxiety, depression, mood swings and many other symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, loss of memory, etc. Bad moods are one of the most common.
These are mostly created by the inflammation of the brain.
You can imagine, it is as if the brain is on fire. When this happens I feel like my neurons are burning up. In such a state, your brain doesn’t function at full capacity and as a result, hormones are also messed up.
Of course, there are various other strategies that can work, like improving your gut health. Your digestive health is a major factor when it comes to brain health. Perhaps this should be included in this article today, but it is so deep that it would require a separate article of its own for another time.
Today I’m going to focus on sharing the principles that I’m currently following. I’ve made videos on some of them which are linked below if you want to go dive a little bit deeper.
6 Strategies to keep you sane in 2020
1: Cold water on your head
The first one is cold water. Cold showers, ice baths and basically any exposure to cold water.
This is one of the things I’ve been doing regularly. Every day, as much as possible. The summer doesn’t make it easy as you need to make the water colder or find an ice bath technology.
But cold water is a super effective method in terms of having an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain.
There are different ways to use it. You can do hot shower and cold shower contrasts, or you can take an ice bath. But don’t miss putting your head under the water. Of course, you can start with your body. This will give your body time to get used to the cold first. But eventually, make sure you finish it with a long period of keeping your head under the cold water (You can dip your head in and out of the cold water a couple of times first if you’re not feeling ready).
Here is an interesting fact about the effectiveness of the cold against depression:
Maybe you know, the exposure to cold has been popularised by the “Ice Man” Wim Hof. I have been following him for 10 years now. There is a part of his personal story, which not everyone knows of. Before he got onto this path, he had an extremely difficult situation in his life. His wife took her own life and Wim was left alone with his four kids. In that time frame, he discovered that exposure to cold helped him with his depression, and the rest is history.
And so this is strategy one, cold running water on your head for a minimum of half a minute to one minute per day.
Try it and you will see that it works. If it doesn’t work, maybe add some other strategies, which I will share below.
Check out my Cold Showers video to dive deeper
2: Intermittent Fasting
The second strategy that works really well for me is intermittent fasting.
The principle here is giving your body some time to detox itself, including cleaning built-up toxins out of the brain.
Intermittent fasting is a superb strategy to keep your mind sane.
What I do is I keep my diet in an eight-hour window. Whatever I’m eating, it’s all within an eight-hour period. Therefore, I don’t eat three times a day. I was eating three meals before, but as I’m not doing much bodybuilding right now, I’m only eating two times a day and it’s enough for me.
So I have a very late breakfast. Usually, my earliest breakfast is at one o’clock, and more often it’s between two and three o’clock. So it’s kind of late. Then I eat a second meal which is like dinner. I eat this around seven or eight, sometimes even later. As long as I don’t eat later than 9 or 10 pm, it’s fine. Ideally, I like to eat earlier, with six or seven o’clock as the perfect dinner time for me.
You can, of course, choose a routine that works for you. Then, to keep it simple you can just eat every day at the same time. I can’t personally do that but if you can do that, it’s even better.
Most importantly, do the intermittent fasting. And of course drink water, I wouldn’t want you to dehydrate yourself.
Okay, here’s the trick.
When I do intermittent fasting and have a late breakfast – one or two o’clock in the afternoon – I still take something in my body beforehand. A couple of hours before I start my eight-hour eating window, I’ll have a bulletproof coffee (coffee, with a little bit of butter or coconut oil, and cacao or curcumin added).
Even though I’m technically having this coffee during the fasting stage, this doesn’t go against the principles of fasting that much. Some people argue that it’s better not to have anything. Of course, for a full long fast, like not eating anything for four days (water fast), or not drinking or eating anything for four days (dry fast), is a way to going deeper into fasting.
That’s perfect for some people.
You could even do a 24-hour fast once a week or once a month.
I’m not against those types of fasts. But if you have a busy life, they will be difficult to implement. For me, the easiest to implement is a daily routine. Because every day I just skip the breakfast or have a late breakfast and that becomes my habit. Doing it this way is easier for me.
Check out my Intermittent Fasting video to dive deeper
3: Drink organic coffee
I start the day with a strong coffee.
Having organic coffee is important because the coffee goes through the blood-brain barrier, and it can toxify your brain cells. So the coffee has to be pure. Please please please buy a pure, organic coffee. This is very important.
You can make it a bulletproof coffee by adding some coconut oil or butter which I love to do. I do it almost every time, as long as I don’t run out of them. I always have butter or coconut oil with me for my coffee.
Check out my Bulletproof Coffee video to dive deeper.
You can also add some anti-inflammatory herbs. One of my favourites is curcumin powder (turmeric). I consume around one tablespoon of curcumin powder per day – half of it on its own, just mixed in with water and drunk on an empty stomach, but not before breakfast. I usually do it during my eight-hour eating window, somewhere in the middle of my breakfast and dinner. You can consume it with some oil in your salad or some other food that you put oil on. This way it will be more bioavailable.
So, I start my day with coffee. And in my coffee, I sometimes add some cacao. I like cacao very much. It is a great adaptogen. I will write about adaptogens further down. But adaptogens like curcumin and cacao are great to consume to keep yourself sane. And adding them to your coffee is an easy way to do it.
Here are some precautions.
I’m not telling you to drink coffee all day long. And especially not if it’s toxic coffee, or drunk with sugar or milk. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about black organic coffee. And if you grind it fresh, even better.
And then just consume your coffee as an early morning boost. Do it only once. Don’t go back to it. Limit your caffeine intake by noon, and you will see that it will not affect your sleep at all.
Some people can still sleep if they drink coffee at 11 pm. I am not one of those people for sure. I am a slow caffeine metaboliser. And if I drink after 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon, I will have difficulty sleeping that night. Even if you are a fast caffeine metaboliser, drinking it in the evening might negatively affect your sleep quality. So be on the safe side and don’t drink coffee in the afternoon or later part of the day.
Also, consuming coffee every day will desensitize you to the caffeine and you will need to consume more and more of it to have the same effects. There is a physical dependency issue that comes up. Therefore, I not only limit my coffee consumption to only once in the morning, but I also circulate it at least two days a week and not take any caffeine in my body on those days. Usually, I do this on the weekends.
In this regard, Cacao is a great alternative to coffee. Mix some raw organic cacao powder with hot water and drink with pleasure. It will not keep you awake at night, so you can even have it in the evening. I drink at least one cup of Cacao every day and add some of it to my bulletproof coffee as well.
4: Anti-inflammatory adaptogen herbs
I have mentioned anti-inflammatory herbs above, but it is worth having its own separate section.
Adaptogens will help balance your nervous system.
One of my favourites is curcumin powder, that I mentioned above. I consume around one tablespoon of curcumin powder per day. You can drink it plain in water or add it to your food.
Curcumin, Cacao, Ginger, Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Schisandra berry and Goji Berries are all great anti-inflammatory adaptogen herbs.
On top of these kinds of very useful herbs, I would advise eating some mushrooms like Lion’s Mane or Chaga. This kind of stuff is really nutritious. Ashwagandha, Ginseng and Cacao also have some aphrodisiac effects, which is great.
5: Drink good quality green tea
Having a cup of a very good quality green tea is another useful and simple strategy.
I go for a really good quality oolong tea or white tea. I especially like to drink it about five or six hours after my coffee as it balances the effects of coffee.
Some people prefer to take their coffee together with Theanine. This is a soothing amino acid, and one that is abundant in green tea.
So, green tea consumption is a great way to take theanine in a natural and easy way to implement into your life.
Let us revise the strategies I am offering you to stay sane:
- Cold showers
- Intermittent fasting
- Your coffee
- Anti-inflammatory herbs
- Quality green tea
So, these are my strategies.
Bonus strategy: Exercise
As a bonus, I would like to share an additional strategy with you.
This strategy works especially well in the morning when you’re in your intermittent fasting stage.
Do some light exercise. Like 20 minutes of sun salutations, Pilates or a low impact HIIT high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout.
Personally, I go really hard with this part of my morning routine, because I like to challenge myself for being more fit. But, I came to this point gradually.
If you’re a beginner, take it very easy. Just try to do an exercise that will make you break into a sweat, in your pre-breakfast intermittent fasting time. Sweating in the morning is a great way to start your day, as it helps release BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which will uplift your mood tremendously. BDNF is like growth hormone for the brain and it aids in recovering from stress.
Alternatively, you can do your exercise after your meals. Or you can exercise in the early evening, which is a great time for going to the gym for a full-on workout. If you have little time, you could focus on doing some simple workouts at home, like callisthenics, HIIT, or Pilates.
There are a lot of things you can do at home. Just buy some kettlebells and learn how to do it. Of course, it requires some deep training to be working out safely with kettlebells. But my point is, there are many ways that you can exercise at home.
For many years I have been training mostly at home, and don’t go to the gym so often anymore.
Which strategies are you going to try?
I hope that these strategies have been useful. Since using these in my own life, I have seen and felt the many benefits. And most importantly, they help me keep sane and keep going no matter what life throws at me.
If you’re going to experiment with one of them, let me know in the comments.
See you next time.
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