In the last few years it has become somewhat like a trend to work out and look after our physical appearance. We are looking more closely at what we are putting into our bodies and what we are putting on them.
In order to achieve our desired physical appearance we would look at the tools we need in order to get there. What foods are we eating? Are we tracking our calorie intake and output? Are measuring our steps or daily activity?
It’s the same for your desired mental appearance. The tools in this case would be how long are we meditating for? Have I been mindful in nature today? Do I prioritise my self care daily? ie a book, bath, walk.
So why is it that so many people are stuck in just looking after the physical. What good is it, having a nice body, strong and supple and then feeling drained and un well? The more un well and drained we feel the more time off the gym or classes we will need to take. The more we are forced to slow down.
And your maybe thinking, what is my mental health got to do with my immune function. Let me put this as clear and simply as I can, your brain will do whatever you tell it to do. It does not care if it’s good or bad it will do what you repeatedly tell it to do.
If you are repeatedly complaining of feeling tired and run down or never feeling 100% then this type of thinking will signal a stress response in your body. You will release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. It takes the body 30 minutes or so for it to return back to a balanced and aligned state. If something else stressful appears within those 30 minutes then the whole thing starts again and your nervous system will continue to stay in the stress response mode.
Every time you get annoyed or frustrated. Worried or fearful. When you are overthinking or in a rush to get somewhere not to mention the on going thoughts that we aren’t even conscious of, these are all activating this stress mode.
When living our daily lives in this state we begin to weaken the immune system which impacts our mood and behaviour.
You may say "but i’m not stressed, majority of the time I do my yoga practice and use my mindfulness tools." Sorry to say, that can still mean you are living in a state of stress. Most the time we aren’t even aware of it. We are so conditioned to this way of life and all the pressures that are put on us. We think this is just me. This is just the way I am. No this is what you and other people have said you should be.
Your natural harmonious state is peace, balance and calmness. When in this state you have more mental clarity and peace, a stronger immune system, better gut health which impacts our hair, nail, skin and over all mood and energy levels. It allows us to make better decisions and have more patience.
So basically keep doing what your doing and continue working on your body because this is VERY IMPORTANT. Your body is your vehicle through life, without it we don’t have life. HOWEVER your mind is also VERY IMPORTANT. Your mind is the driver. We need both to work together to give us the best journey.
So here are some tools I found to be quite useful to help exercise your brain.
1. Mind games
Do you remember the game where you would lie out playing cards face down and you could only turn one over at a time. You had to match the numbers on the card. You had to remember where the number was and try to get 2 cards the same? It’s a memory game. I'm sure there are other games along the same lines but working on your memory muscle is a good way to stimulate your brain.
Firstly meditation is NOT about stopping your thoughts, its about becoming aware of them. Once we become aware of them we can then choose to let them go or use them to our advantage. There is a huge amount of science based studies showing the benefits of meditation and the effect it has on our mind health, our gut health and our nervous system. Meditation comes in many forms. Sitting still, lying down, ice baths, walking. Find one that works for you. I will link a meditation video below and you can use it whenever you want. It’s like a muscle, you need to keep working it.
Start getting creative. Paint, write, dance. Find ways you can be creative and that works well for you. Creativity sparks motivation which brings discipline. It opens up our minds and allows other exciting and creative ideas to come in. When we lose our creativity, we lose our spark.
4. Re Programing
Re programming the stories we have been telling ourselves our whole life. “I can’t do that”, “I am rubbish at that”, “i’ve never enjoyed that” etc. These are stories that we are affirming to ourselves daily, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. You may be so programmed that now you don’t even notice these thoughts when they come in. The trick is to catch them and re program them. So instead of I can’t do something you say I choose to believe I can. Over time if you can keep catching and shifting the stories you will start to feel a shift. This again is backed by science. We can literally change our brain and the way we think through conscious effort. Either we control the brain or it controls us……you get to choose.
These tools have allowed me to handle what life has thrown and continues to throw at me and I truly believe they can help you too. These tools are like the nourishing nutrition that our minds need.
Even if you take a small part away from this blog, you are starting to take control of your life and circumstances. Life can be hard and confusing. To be honest without these tools i’m not sure I would be who I am today. Challenges still come up but I now know how to handle them without immediately reacting. I am aware of self limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns. I am taking control of my reality and it’s time for you to do the same.
So let’s do it.
Start with the 4 action steps above and see what happens. MAKE IT FUN!!
Remember doing this everyday is where you will feel the most benefit, that doesn’t mean however that if you do it 2/3 times a week you won’t feel anything it just means it may take longer to notice the difference. Either way it still works so get going.
Sending you all lots of love