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“Why you should optimize your mental health.” With Beau Henderson & Brandi Black

Many teens and preteens are on social media, which can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression. For the most part, social media showcases our best moments and highlights reel, not reality. This can cause others to fall into a comparison trap and feel left out or inadequate. While it’s not realistic to be off social […]

Many teens and preteens are on social media, which can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression. For the most part, social media showcases our best moments and highlights reel, not reality. This can cause others to fall into a comparison trap and feel left out or inadequate. While it’s not realistic to be off social media entirely, it would be amazing for teens and pre-teens to have the awareness about the realities of social media and recognizing when it feels unhealthy for them and knowing when to take a break.


As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandi Black.

Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the creator of Feel Best Naked, a health blog that empowers women to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin through nutrition, mindset, and spiritual wellness. Brandi is also a brand ambassador for Sun Chlorella.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

As a very picky eater who grew up on Kraft Dinner and chicken strips — and didn’t even know what kale was or that humans ate algae — holistic nutrition seemed like an unlikely career path for me.

But just before my 21st birthday, there was a twist of fate. I was at an airport in Dallas, Texas during a layover and saw a book on traditional Chinese medicine in a bookstore. It was perfectly written for someone my age with zero knowledge of how nutrition impacts the mind and body. Written by a doctor of Chinese medicine, the book also emphasized and explained a holistic approach to health, which resonated with me more than the other health information I had read in the past (mostly pertaining to diet culture). I read this book cover to cover while I was on vacation, and enrolled in school to become a holistic nutritionist as soon as I got home. Here we are a decade later, and holistic health is and always will be a true passion of mine.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Oh my goodness. The first year I was in nutrition school, my health took a downward spiral. My hormones were going crazy, I was having panic attacks, my skin was breaking out like crazy, I was constantly bloated and experienced digestive distress no matter what I ate. I was gaining weight with no explanation (and eating the healthiest I’d ever eaten in my life). This may sound depressing, but it’s the most interesting story because I believe this was also my greatest blessing and I never would’ve created Feel Best Naked without this experience — especially having no major health challenges before I went to nutrition school.

While I managed to overcome all of these symptoms naturally using the knowledge I had, it was a very painful time in my life that I will never forget. Those painful months and years allowed me to develop a deep sense of empathy and urgency for those who are facing frustrating and painful health challenges and to be of better service to my clients.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

To be honest, I cannot think of anything humorous that’s happened in either my writing roles or when helping women with their health- I take that pretty seriously 🤣 there’s nothing humorous that had even happened in school.. except maybe the discovery that humans eat algae like chlorella, having grown up on processed foods!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would have to say the author of the Chinese medicine book I referenced earlier that started it all! I emailed her a personal thank-you for being the catalyst that put me on a new career path (I had planned to go to school for graphic design!). The author is Aimee Raupp, and her book is called Chill Out and Get Healthy.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

It’s so important in the realm of health to never stop learning and to stay current with your education and knowledge in natural health. However, it can also become overwhelming with controversial opinions, conflicting studies, new health trends that emerge daily, etc. It’s important to be discerning and remember that keeping things as simple as possible will help both you and your clients avoid stress and burnout. Oftentimes, the most basic solutions (ie: adding in more fiber-rich meals, a variety of colorful plant foods, increasing water intake, etc.) yield the most powerful results.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

  • Mental wellness and our body’s immunity are very much linked, so making sure to nourish the physical body will help us mentally as we manage stress. Your primary lifestyle focus right now should be to get adequate, restful sleep and manage stress and anxiety as best as you can (as the fight or flight response suppresses immunity). If there are things in your life that deplete you or make you unhappy (ie: a job, relationship, etc.), do whatever you can to change them. PS: This can be so life changing for the adrenals!!
  • Other suggestions: Avoid the news at night, focus on winding down with meditation and breathing exercises, a warm bath, journaling, and a good book. Candlelight yin yoga is also great to calm anxious thoughts and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body feel calm and relaxed. Create a fun little ritual for yourself that you can “escape” to and look forward to doing.
  • Staying healthy is also about continuing to move your body and not stay sedentary during the quarantine (or not). At home workouts, even just 15 minutes per day of stretching or walking outdoors makes a positive difference. What we choose to put into our bodies impacts how we feel mentally, and I always start my day by hydrating first thing. My morning drink of choice is warm water with lemon, raw local honey, and ginger first thing. I love to add adaptogenic herbs like eleuthero to my routine as well, which help support my body’s response to stress.
  • Follow with a smoothie that’s loaded with immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin C and zinc: apple, kale, avocado, cranberries, blueberries. I supercharge my smoothies with the optional add-in of chlorella. If you live in a colder climate, use fresh fruit stored at room temperature for your smoothies (or thaw frozen fruit) to avoid being chilled to the bone. Snacking on raw seasonal fruits and veggies will also help keep you hydrated, while offering your body a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that are needed to feel your best.
  • Of course, staying mentally and physically healthy is also about what you don’t eat! Take care to moderate and avoid foods and substances that are known for wearing down the immune system: stress, alcohol, cigarettes, refined carbohydrates, and refined sugar. For me, I’m working on cutting out coffee by making homemade matcha lattes and London fogs instead because coffee = anxiety and energy spikes and crashes, which triggers stress and exhaustion.
  • I cannot recommend meditation enough for mental wellness. I have been making meditation even more enjoyable by doing guided meditations in a bubble bath as I wind down before bed.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

I would say the most important component for mental health after retirement would be to stay connected with your loved ones and friends. Loneliness and isolation is one of the major contributing factors to anxiety and depression. Luckily, FaceTime and apps like Zoom allow this to be very easy at any time, especially during quarantine. When restrictions are lifted, it’s important to plan a structured schedule to stay connected in person too. For example, planning weekly lunches, tea dates, or meet ups. Staying active by picking up new fun hobbies (swimming, walking, yoga and dance classes!) and on top of your nutrition by eating a fiber-rich, blood sugar balancing diet are also extremely important for optimal mental wellness.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

Many teens and preteens are on social media, which can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression. For the most part, social media showcases our best moments and highlights reel, not reality. This can cause others to fall into a comparison trap and feel left out or inadequate. While it’s not realistic to be off social media entirely, it would be amazing for teens and pre-teens to have the awareness about the realities of social media and recognizing when it feels unhealthy for them and knowing when to take a break.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Wow, thank you for the compliment! If I could start a movement, I would want it to have something to do with authenticity and transparency. Although Feel Best Naked’s name came from the desire to help women improve their physical health, as I embarked on my own wellness journey, I realized that we receive (and give!) true healing to ourselves and others by accepting and loving ourselves for who we really are — embracing imperfections, perceived mistakes, and shadows — and not hiding these parts of ourselves from the world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“The lotus flower blooms in the mud”. This quote has always helped me remain grounded when life gets messy and gives me faith that something beautiful is always going to emerge from even the darkest of situations.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram at Feel Best Naked.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this interview series!

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