Schedule in regular rest and rejuvenation time — I know that I need at least 1 hour a week to myself to “fill my own cup” so to speak. Sometimes I will get a massage, or take a hot bath or curl up with my dog and read a book with a cup of tea. I have a list of activities that I love doing that allows me to feel replenished and recharged that I go to.
As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Tiffany Toombs. Tiffany Toombs is the Founder of Blue Lotus Mind Inc and is a self-love advocate, coach and author. She is presently on a mission to inspire and empower 1 million women, men and children around the world to shine their light and live their truth every day. Tiffany combines neuroscience and body biology with the spiritual to specialize in helping people overcome the self-sabotage, limiting beliefs and negative emotions that stop them from living their passions and the life they truly desire. Tiffany (B.Kin) is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and Matrix Therapies, as well as a meditation teacher and Yin Yoga teacher. You can follow Tiffany’s work on her website www.bluelotusmind.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always loved helping people and have been a coach in one form or another for as long as I can remember. It was after my own personal breakdown (which I now see as a breakthrough) where I considered ending it all, I recognized the power of the mind and the importance of dealing with the emotions we have attached to negative events throughout our life. My mission is to empower people in dealing with these emotions in a positive and productive way so no one has to hit the lows I have in life and feel like there is no other way out.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
I think that we’re often afraid of what we can’t see or can’t easily explain. Mental health conditions fall into both of those categories. It doesn’t make logical sense that people who seem to “have it all” like Robin Williams would have such depression that he took his own life, and yet it happened.
And because mental health issues aren’t something we can see or “explain”, I think there is a sense of helplessness when it comes to helping those we love who are afflicted with it. I think instead of feeling helpless to help a loved one, a lot of people prefer to make light of the issue or condition or sweep it under the carpet. And this just ends up creating a vicious circle where the person who is reaching out for help feels they are being ostracized.
And of course, history (and Hollywood) has in many ways demonized mental health conditions and led us to believe that we’re crazy if we can’t control our emotions. That’s why publications like this are so powerful — we’re starting to re-write the story on mental health.
Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?
I believe that when we understand how something works, we feel more confident in talking about it or looking at it. My aim is to educate people, in simple, uncomplicated terms, about how the brain works and the role parts of our body (like our gut) play in mental health conditions so that people aren’t afraid of it anymore. I think of it as shining the light on the proverbial monster under the bed — once we shine the light in areas that were once dark and we gain an understanding of that place we feel more empowered to address it — both with ourselves and others.
Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?
Other than my own personal experience with depression and anxiety, I’ve witnessed (and felt helpless) to help those in my family and my circle of friends who have faced mental health conditions.
Teaching and understanding the neuroscience comes easily to me, so that felt like the most natural route to take to make a change for others in their lives.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
I think as individuals and society as a whole need to recognize that we have a very limited view of the world around us. We view the world through a filter of our own beliefs and experiences, which can make us quick to judge what we don’t understand. I think as individuals and a society we could better support those with mental illness by seeking first to understand where others are at and responding from a place of love.
From a government perspective, I think there should be more subsidized programs for both those with mental illness and their friends and family to learn how to cope and provide an understanding and support system.
What are the 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
My 6 strategies are:
1. Schedule in regular rest and rejuvenation time — I know that I need at least 1 hour a week to myself to “fill my own cup” so to speak. Sometimes I will get a massage, or take a hot bath or curl up with my dog and read a book with a cup of tea. I have a list of activities that I love doing that allows me to feel replenished and recharged that I go to.
2. Meditation daily — we live in a busy world, and my days are typically filled with clients and helping them address, reframe and deal with their challenges. I carve out regular time in silence to sort through and look at my own emotions and feelings so I can acknowledge and deal with them.
3. Time in nature — I live in the middle of the city, surrounded by concrete, traffic, and people. I make a point to get out of the city and into nature — whether that’s a beach, national park, lake or mountains at least once a month. This gives both my body and mind time to relax and repair physically and energetically.
4. Journalling — I journal often (almost daily) as a way to “see” my emotions and put them into perspective. Journalling for me is incredibly cathartic and allows me to deal with my emotions and challenges in a positive and productive manner. I also focus daily on the things I’m grateful for and that I did well during the day to reinforce positive thinking.
5. Remove gluten from my diet — studies have shown that gluten has a causal link to mental illness by causing inflammation in our gut and thereby killing the good bacteria there that produces 95% of serotonin (a feel-good endorphin).
6. Removing negativity from my environment — whether it’s the news, haters, judgemental people or any other form of negativity, I am careful about what I allow into my physical space and into my head. We know that we are what we eat when it comes to our body and physical health, the same concept applies to our mental and emotional health — we are what we consume. We are biologically wired to have a negative bias (we see all the bad things first) to protect ourselves from danger — a lot of media outlets and consumer goods companies play on our emotions and fears to sell us things. I choose not to allow those into my world!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
I love anything by Brene Brown, most specifically The Gifts Of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me. The Hidden Brain podcast also gives great insight into the workings of our brain.