December 22nd, 2011 Archive

A Stronger Mind for a Stronger and Happier You

December 22nd, 2011 by Adaire in Lifestyle

A typical fitness program has the following common denominators: an exercise regimen, a list of foods to eat and avoid, and recommended lifestyle changes – such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption. It basically has all the physical improvements covered, but what about our mental and emotional state? How often do you spot a fitness program that touches on mental health and self esteem?

I’m guessing not very often, and that’s where I’d like to voice out my opinion that getting fit should also mean working on our mental health – primarily the thoughts that govern us and impact our confidence. Because let’s face it: you can’t truly be fit and happy if you’re constantly in a blue funk. You may be at your ideal weight and dress size, with a washboard stomach to boot, but if your confidence levels are low, then you’re not “whole”. Negativity has no place in our health and wellbeing.

I was pleased to see my standpoint validated in a Healthy Wealthy nWise article I saw recently, one written by Kac Young, a doctor of both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Naturopathy and a Minister of Religious Science. In her article “Getting Healthy Begins in the Mind: Top Five Ways to Create a Healthier Life”, she echoes the same school of thought: good health starts in the mind. If you nurture the idea of health, your actions will follow suit. The power of your thoughts can fuel you to carry out your plans willingly and enthusiastically.

Let’s say you just decided to start a fitness program. You paid for a year’s gym membership and cleared out all the junk food in your pantry. Now imagine yourself focusing on the loss of your favorite snacks and the perceived hassle of having to go to the gym five times a week, rain or shine. Would those very thoughts motivate you to choose healthy fare and show up for workouts? Of course not! You’ll only end dragging yourself to the gym, probably even missing sessions and heading straight to the nearest store to buy yourself a pack of (insert favorite fattening food here).

How does one cultivate a healthy and positive mindset? Young offers these five great tips:

“Take a few moments to recognize the beliefs and patterns that are keeping you from acting like a healthy person.” Think of your knee-jerk reactions to dealing with different situations. For instance, when boredom strikes, your usual reaction is to while away the boredom by munching on buttered popcorn and washing it down with sugary soda while watching TV. Recognizing unhealthy patterns helps you become aware enough to “interrupt” the pattern of self-destruction and select a healthier alternative.

Ask yourself: “Are words poisoning your thoughts? Are you talking to yourself, or is someone else talking to you, in negative ways?” If yes, then the solution is to talking UP, not DOWN, by using (and even listening to) positive words and self affirmation. Simple declarations such as “I am going to eat a healthy salad for lunch” or “I am going to do really well at that job interview” are powerful enough to impact the way you perform and make decisions.

“Have you tried before and failed? Are you afraid the same thing will happen again? Give yourself a break.” Sometimes taking a break is what we need to recharge and reflect on our actions and circumstances. It takes a calm mind to properly analyze where you erred and what you can do to avoid it ever happening again. You need to learn to forgive yourself so you can move on.

“Do you give up too soon? Change doesn’t happen overnight.” Impatience can be our worst enemy. It demonizes our thoughts and can lead us to throw in the towel when things aren’t going our way fast enough. Combat impatience by looking back at past accomplishments that also took you time to attain. That should help, as Young put it, “resurrect your faith in times of self doubt”.

“Still don’t know how to begin? Get help.” Learning about healthy living and positive thinking entails research. Go find a website that addresses your needs, get a book or even enroll in a program that will help you boost your self confidence. It pays to surround yourself with like-minded people who can inspire you to do think positive thoughts and strive to accomplish goals.

Keep fueling your mind power with self confidence. It is self confidence that will carry you through a bad day and prevent you from throwing yourself the proverbial pity party. If you feel your self confidence could use some work, let me share with you some tips I gleaned from Lynn Kennedy Baxter’s Healthy Wealthy nWise article, “5 Steps to Build Self Confidence”:

“Identify the tasks you did well today.” Knowing you accomplished something is a feather in your cap and motivates you to do more.

“Give yourself the pat on the back that you deserve.” Don’t wait for others to praise you; be your own special cheerleader! :)

“Accept the pat on the back and enjoy it.” We’re so willing to praise and acknowledge others when they do well, so why don’t we willingly accept compliments in turn?

“Identify the tasks that need improvement.” We need to figure out what we need to work on so we can arrive at our goals. When we get things done, it’s an added boost to our morale.

“Take some specific action related to the task to improve before the next day.” Always strive for improvement. Take action as soon as you identify the problem. The earlier you nip it in the bud, the better.

I have incorporated the suggestions above into my daily life and I find myself becoming a better and stronger person each day. I’m no superwoman, but I think that having a take-charge mentality and an attitude of gratitude helps me a lot in dealing with life’s challenges. I’m less prone to stress and self doubts. Things aren’t always perfect and I still experience the occasional negative thought, but I’ve become much better at dealing with them. :)

Adaire

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