What To Do When We Need ‘Gasolina’ – Fuel


Published: April 17, 2023 by Loida Garcia-Febo, Health and Wellness Ambassador

On April 12, the Library of Congress announced that it had inducted ‘Gasolina,’ the mega hit of the Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee in the National Recording Registry. In Spanish, gasolina means fuel for a vehicle. Without fuel, a car cannot run. The driver of the car cannot go where they need to. In other words, without the energizing fuel that is gasolina an individual cannot reach their goal.

As the semester draws to a close, many of us are seeking to replenish our fuel to reach our goals. Many posts from librarians on social media speak about exhaustion and burnout. Unfortunately, I’ve also read about some people that physically collapsed and had to be admitted to the ER.

What can we do? Intentionality seems to be the key to staying energized.

Dr. Cassandra Vieten, a speaker at the Mental Health and Well-being Global Summit presented by the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation this week, is a proponent of looking at our well-being and mental health as something that includes our whole body, not only our head. In her talk, which I attended, Dr. Vieten spoke about the benefits of building ecosystems of well-being which can help people to improve mental health, emotional balance, and resilience.

That’s why it doesn’t make sense to focus only above the neck to cultivate mental and emotional balance and resilience. Mental health and well-being rely on a whole bunch of stuff, like your:

  • biology – including “hard-wiring” and genetics, but also your hormones, blood sugar, microbiome (gut health), neurotransmitters, vitality, brain function, structure and more…all of which are affected by and can be influenced by:
    • exercise and movement
    • what, how and when you eat
    • sleep quality, cycles of activity and renewal
    • time in light/sunshine vs. dark
    • exposure to heat and cold
    • and much more
  • strong relationships, friendships, social support and community
  • connection to nature, animals, and the Earth’s elements and seasons
  • connection to religion or spirituality for some, and for others important human values such as truth, justice and beauty
  • experiencing and expressing virtues such as honesty, gratitude and love
  • having a sense of meaning and purpose
  • engaging in art, music, creativity and play
  • being able to contribute or be of service to others, society and the world
  • taking time in contemplation, reflection, mindfulness, meditation and quiet time

Given what we know now, focusing solely on the head (like, only addressing brain chemistry, or only addressing thinking patterns) to treat mental health issues or cultivate mental well-being — in ourselves, in our loved ones, in society — just doesn’t make sense.

Our mental health and well-being rely on an interlocking set of practices and conditions (an ecosystem) that we can gradually build over time to create the optimal conditions for our well-being in body, mind and spirit. The great news? We know what these practices and conditions are, and we can build a personal system that supports our thriving.


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