If you didn't meet Neuroscientist Peter Mercado-Reyes in our WTF is Brain article you're going to now! Peter is a New York based Neuroscientist with a B.S. in Biochemistry from Purdue University. He has since conducted numerous investigations on the molecular basis of Parkinson’s Disease, Post-traumatic Stress disorder and psychosis. Currently he works at a private biotechnology company in NYC investigating the gut-brain axis.
But that's not all, not only is he an incredibly intelligent human being but one with a kind soul and heart of gold, which is what makes us so excited to see WTF he thinks about Wellness!
Peter is one of the co-founders of Metalust, with Charles Chaisson a brilliant visual artist/professor.
Metalust is a haven centered on empowerment and wellness. One of their main goals is to give people the information and tools needed to create a life for themselves that prioritizes their wellbeing, both mentally and physically.
Currently, Metalust hosts a Sunday Circle at Noon-2 EST over Zoom on Sundays. Its part mental health check in, part facilitated conversation on the factors influencing our and society’s behaviors and how we can improve them. They keep the topics open, depending on current events and whether they get solicited for a collaboration, but topics can range from toxic masculinity to racism, sexism and other collective traumas.
Beyond the Sunday Circles, Metalust has a few other projects in the works. Overall their products and services serve to honor the diversity of approaches in empowerment and wellness and recognize that they need to come together in order to be sustainable.
If you're interested in learning more about Metalust or joining a Sunday Circle, you can follow and connect with them on Instagram!
What does wellness even begin to mean to you?
We think of wellness as all things pertaining to being "well". To us, that would incorporate all aspects of wellness; mental, emotional, & physical health, work-life balance, building a supportive community, or even a well-rounded diet that optimizes health and happiness. In the past we’ve focused on spreading an array of information that allows people to utilize the different tools they have at their disposal to prioritize and facilitate their own health. For instance, discussing how chronic stress affects the body physically, leading to inflammation and a slew of ailments was a topic we’ve covered in the past. We built on that information by talking about topics like meditation, practicing joy, and adaptogenic herbs, which have all been scientifically linked to combatting the physiological effects of stress on the body. We want our community to understand wellness is a complicated relationship based on experimentation with yourself.
Do you have a wellness routine?
We are strong believers in everything having its place. Routines, rituals and habits are essential to establishing wellness. While going with the flow and constantly checking in with your mind and body, are just as important. Our wellness routines consist of adaptogens and some other supplements with morning coffee/tea, occasional grounding meditation mid-day, and maximizing our time to get sleep. There’s also a lot of focus on writing first thing in the morning, biking or any other exercise that gets us out into the sun (vitamin D is important for your immune system!), maintaining a list of things that bring us joy to utilize throughout the week, and therapy.
What are your thoughts on mental health and how that plays into wellness?
We believe mental health is a pillar holding the foundation of wellness. Your mental health encompasses all of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Any action you take requires motivation and as we all know we procrastinate when we’re in a funk. In addition, our mental health affects our physical health via the release of different neurotransmitters. Physical health, and our habits also play a role in mental health. For instance, not having good sleep hygiene (consistency, enough hours for you personally) can really exacerbate or even create mental health issues; like moodiness, anxiety, or even triggering depression. So overall, mental health is intrinsically connected to physical health and overall wellness. Prioritizing our mental health is a key ingredient to our wellness journey, individually and collectively.
What does collective wellness mean to you?
To Metalust, collective wellness means building a community that supports each other in both becoming the best versions of ourselves, and facilitating an environment that allows us to focus on both the overall wellness of the group as well as the individual. There’s a duality in life, one which makes us much more adept at truly caring for and healing the collective, when we’ve focused on self-reflection, self-care, and self-healing. The way we’ve envisioned collective wellness is in practices like information and skill sharing, respecting each other’s boundaries, leading with kindness and respect for others, facilitating moments of joy, and the celebration of culture within our community, respecting and replenishing our environment, and planning for the future.
What part do you play in the collective wellness?
Metalust’s mission is to enrich the lives of our community by providing information that allows us to take better care of both ourselves and one another. We are a social species, so fascinatingly, it makes sense that our bodies have physiological responses that correlate to prosocial or antisocial behavior. For instance, did you know that most prosocial human interactions like hugs, singing together, or dancing, releases hormones like dopamine, serotonin, or oxytocin into our bodies? Did you know that these hormones affect our physiological health & our immune system? In a similar sense, antisocial behavior that causes someone else stress, whether it be through violence or verbal stress, releases hormones in our body like cortisol. When used short-term, cortisol has beneficial effects on our body, but when stress becomes chronic, it wreaks havoc on both our mental and physical health. Our purpose is to facilitate conversations around information like this, to utilize in building better relationships with one another, and ultimately healthier lives because of those relationships.