These are turbulent times. So, this week, Semaine is calling up the doctor for a prescription to help channel self-isolation into a period in which we thrive, rather than merely survive or struggle through. Enter Dr. Tara Swart: a neuroscientist, award-winning author, psychiatrist, doctor, and the chief science officer of Heights, the world’s first plant-based ‘smart supplement’ designed to boost your brain power, keep your memory sharp, and safeguard your emotional wellbeing via the intelligent daily delivery of 18 key nutrients. It’s the kind of pill a lot of us could use always, but especially right now—not as an alternative for medication or a quick fix, but as an extra gentle helping hand to support anxious, heavy heads overwhelmed by the news.
Swart has pioneered a number of scientific breakthroughs over the course of her career, including how the law of attraction works (hint: it works!) and how the ancient tools of manifestation can successfully propel us towards a balanced state of confidence and personal fulfillment. Her findings—along with her library of science-backed practical tips—carry a special message of hope in light of today’s fragile climate: “With a change in pace, and by ensuring less mindless distraction, we can really apply our magnetic desire to the truly important things in life,” she says. “[At a time like this] your inner strength, and the quality of relationship you have with yourself before others, is the difference between surviving and thriving. All of these are things that can be nurtured due to the tremendous power of neuroplasticity—aka the ability of the brain to change itself.”
With this in mind, we asked Swart for a cheatsheet to help Semaine-rs far and wide tackle the forthcoming weeks with positive perseverance. Read it, save it, and share it with a friend—and let’s all remember to love each other through these trying times at an affectionately safe distance.
Semaine: What’s your take on the current climate?
Dr. Tara: We are at the start of a big change, and some of the consequences will be lasting. It is a form of grief because many things will not be as they were before: There will be loss, stress and challenge. The Kubler-Ross Change Curve [a model developed by scientists in the 1960s to measure grief-related emotions] indicates that we will go through shock and denial, anger and fear, depression, bargaining and trying to find meaning, and—finally—acceptance with the ability to move forward.
Semaine: Many of us are feeling anxious and scared. What can we do?
Dr. Tara: It is important to acknowledge your feelings and keep moving through the curve. If we get stuck in one area it takes longer to get to the end. But, people will move through it at different rates, and we may all have to repeat this cycle several times. Be mindful of what you are experiencing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and that others will be going at their own pace. Try to avoid additional conflict by reminding yourself that we are all in this together, but with different perspectives and experiences.
Semaine: What’s happening to the brain when we feel like this?
Dr. Tara: The stress response in the brain and body means that high levels of the hormone cortisol flood our blood supply. This can lower our physical immunity making us more susceptible to common ailments, and it also re-routes the blood supply in the brain away from the higher centers, and down to survival mode. It is more important than ever to be aware of this, give our brain-body system the rest, fuel, oxygen, and sense of belonging it needs to maintain trust, collaboration and creative thinking. These are the skills we will need to come out of a challenge better and stronger.
Semaine: How can manifestation and visualization help at a time when our physical lives are restricted?
Dr. Tara: This is a time to do the inner work that so often goes to the end of the priority list in our usual, busy lives. Visualization exercises where we see ourselves and our loved ones physically well, and happy as a community can really help. Visualizing ourselves as calm and innovative, and as our best selves can bring a feeling of freedom that we are not used to—and that is not restricted by our physical environment.
Manifestation isn’t something that happens to us, it’s something that we bring into our real lives. Manifest moments of laughter or intimacy; manifest a new recipe with whatever you have to hand. Manifest the time to do all the things you say you want to but never get around to, including reading and journaling. Take the time to step back and set an intention around this.
Semaine: What about the law of attraction. Can that help now, too?
Dr. Tara: The law of attraction basically comes down to the concept that the way you think determines what happens in your life. This is actually so crucial right now because there will be many things outside our control—but it’s how we each approach it that will set people apart. Try to find moments of calm and even happiness and humor to bring positivity into an understandably negative and challenging situation.
Semaine: Practically-speaking, what’s the best way to get started?
Dr. Tara: Make an Action Board, write a journal, or try meditation. Making Action Boards (a collage that contains images of how you want your life to be) has totally changed my life over the last decade, and helped me to channel my resilience and intuition. There are some quick wins along the way, but changing pathways in the brain can take some time.
Semaine: How quickly will it work?
Dr. Tara: For some—with goals like regular exercise, making good food choices, getting more sleep, and starting meditation—you can expect results quite quickly. For more complex goals related to things like romance, family relationships, building confidence or changing career, you can expect it to be about as hard learning a new language, (and to take as long, too). You can measure your progress by reading back through your journal or checking how many things on your Action board have come true.
Semaine: Do you have any tips for fostering a productive #StayHome routine?
Dr. Tara: It’s really important to keep your sleep and wake times constant. This is beneficial for the brain anyway, but right now we need to resist the temptation to stay up late or wake up at irregular times. Studies show that people who are unemployed or work from home that do not get properly dressed and groomed can fall into depression, so make sure you are not lounging around in PJs or gym clothes too much!
Also: Eat and drink water regularly, don’t get distracted by household tasks during work hours, and restrict whatever your biggest distraction from living life fully is—for example, incessant phone checking or live streaming TV. Productivity is also helped by being mobile rather than sedentary. Even if you can’t exercise fully, make sure you are walking around, doing some stretching and deep breathing.”
Semaine: What’s your personal self-care protocol for alleviating stress?
Dr. Tara: Apart from good quality and length of sleep, eating a nutrition-dense diet and taking Heights supplements, drinking plenty of water and minimizing alcohol and caffeine, and being physically active, I particularly rely on yoga, meditation, reflexology and magnesium baths to combat stress.
Semaine: How can one best help others be and feel calm, while still taking the necessary safety precautions?
Dr. Tara: The best way to help others feel calm is by demonstrating your own level of calm and sharing what is helping you achieve this. This will inspire others not just mentally but with practical things we can all do. Fortunately, technology allows us to safely keep in contact in multiple ways. It’s really helpful to think of new ways of operating as learning opportunities.
Scroll through and discover Swart’s doctor-approved picks for today, tomorrow, and the future. Each one is healthy and easy to follow—and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.
By Elsa de Berker for Semaine.