Jess Janda

Mental Health is the New Physical Health - Jess Janda

Mental Health is the New Physical Health

Optimum mental health is quickly becoming the new physical health. 

In 2019 books on mental wellness and mindfulness outsold books on diet and exercise for the 1st time ever in history.

More and more people are now taking active steps to prioritize their mental health and wellness above all else.

In this episode we explore the concept of mental health vs mental wellness deeper and what we can do to optimize it.

Episode 2: Mental Health is the new physical health

Defining Optimal mental health & Wellness (3:58)

Amy’s definition of optimal mental health & wellness:

Optimal mental wellness is how you feel moment to while you are alive.

If I am upset …

If I am feeling an emotion …

Can I give myself permission to feel the emotion or do I need to judge it and make it wrong?

When I allow it to be there … that’s me being mentally well.

Jess’s definition of optimal mental health & wellness:

Mental health is the new physical health.

Its about having the mental clarity, stamina and resilience to be able to show up fully for the things that matter the most.

Its about being able to feel the feelings without using numbing coping mechanisms.

Its about being able to show with compassion, empathy and an increased stress fuse.

Its about having abundant energy and being well rested.

Its about being able to nurture all the relationships in my life in a way that feels good.

Listen to the show:


What no one taught you about how to optimize your mental health (6:46)

Jess’s Mental Optimization Journey:

Growing up we didn’t talk about mental wellness. 

Mental health issues in general were taboo and didn’t apply to my family – or so that was the perception.

What started out as “everyone’s doing it” in intermediate school turned into 26 yearlong love affair with the only coping mechanism I had ever known. Alcohol.

Add drugs and bulimia to the repertoire of coping mechanisms and I was off to the races.

Somehow all of it got normalized along the way. I now believe drinking, using and food purging was my way of self-medicating against the fear and anxiety of never feeling comfortable in my own skin. Introvert here.

Or maybe it was out of boredom.

And to some extent that might be true but I now also believe that I was self-medicating to balance neurotransmitter signaling imbalances.

A ha moment.

I also thought back then, that if something was wrong in my brain/head, that needed to be the focal point.

While at college at Carnegie Mellon my bulimia had reached a tipping point. My roommate found me in passed out in shower in bathtub of vomit.

That was the wake up call for me.  So I decided to seek help.

Within 5 minutes of meeting with a psychiatrist I was put Paxil. I spend the next 6 months walking around my collage campus in a daze. It did not alleviate my desire to purge.

That wasn’t the answer, nor was it the solution.

That was my first introduction to our broken mental health system.

Amy’s Mental Optimization Journey:

I was waiting to catch mental illness.

All I knew about it was that my biological mom was not well. That is was something that runs in the family. Its in my DNA.

That this disease that I was afraid to catch isn’t really solved by any medication.

So much of it is behaviors and looking at the root cause of where it comes from.

So I grew up begging for a diagnosis. In college I went to so many doctors and psychiatrists.

One to get Xanax.

And two, I wanted them to tell me what was wrong so I could fix it.

And now with the trauma work I do in world, I am committed to helping people discover the root cause of whats really going on.

In my own lineage I uncovered a lot of  trauma. 

What does the body do when root cause things like that happen?

It shuts down parts of the brain. And then we call it mental illness.

I call it a response to emotion and physical trauma. 

And if someone would have taught me that growing up … how different would life have been?

Then it would have made sense that I choose to cope with sugar. Distract myself with boys. Drink a lot of alcohol. And use drugs.

Thank goodness I was so curious. That curiosity is the resilience that saved my life.

Mental wellness is possible. 

What the new science around mental health & wellness is telling us (17:04)

Where we sit right now in history is literally at the cusp of a complete paradigm shift around mental wellness.

3 ½ years ago we were introduced to the concept of optimizing mental wellness through the gut-brain axis and it has forever changed the course of our lives.

That optimal mental wellness requires a multi-factorial approach.

That 60-90% of our feel-good neurotransmitters are produced in our gut. A healthy gut that is.  A gut void of dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria) and leaky gut.

Lets talk about our feel good neurotransmitters for a minute. What are they and what are they responsible for:

  • Serotonin – happy/sad
  • Dopamine – motivation
  • Norepinephrine – focus and concentration
  • GABA – ability to relax and sleep
  • Oxytocin – connection/love

Things that cause gut imbalances (dysbiosis) or leaky gut:

  1. Psychological stress
  2. Antibiotics and medications
  3. Sugar & processed foods
  4. Alcohol & drugs
  5. Environmental toxins

Tips to help you optimize your mental health & wellness (33:17)

Fun, simple things you can do to feel well more often:

  • Reduce alcohol consumption – take a look at the patterns around how you might be using alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Do a simple protocol to repair the gut and get the neurotransmitters producing and signaling across the body again in an optimized way. Click HERE to learn more. 
  • Balance your cortisol response (fight or flight/stress response) using these 4 ayurvedic herbs. Click HERE to learn more. 
  • Take frequent breaks throughout the day. Set reminders to check in with yourself throughout the day.
  • Improve sleep quality through giving your body the nutrients it needs to produce its own serotonin/melatonin in an optimized way. Click HERE to learn more. 
  • Cultivate a morning meditation/centering/gratitude practice – before you touch technology and other people are able to insert their agendas into your day.
  • Movement
  • Get out in nature/ground yourself to the earth
  • Service – get out of self
  • Ask for support from friends and community

For more tips on how to create a habit tracker to help keep yourself accountable be sure to check out this blog post: 10 Simple Habits To Optimize Your Mental Wellness

Until next episode! Stay optimized ya’ll!


Amy & Jess

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