I have been reading the latest research in the book “The Embodied Mind” by Dr. Thomas R. Verny on human cognitive functioning that indicates that the mind is not located in the brain: our whole body carries its intelligence.
We know that the human body has interdependent physiological relationships – muscles interact with the heart in response to hormones selected by the brain, which extends to every cell.
In the same way the mind does not work alone and not only attributed to the brain, it is connected to the whole physical form which is why your mental and physical relationship are so connected.
Not sure if you feel the same but life is all sorts of crazy at the moment.
It feels like we can’t come up for air enough, we keep being flooded and covered in tragic world events, our own challenges, parenting, life, emotional turbulence, illness, depression, anxiety and a sense of complete overwhelm and hopelessness.
Yet, here we are alive – what a gift!
There are times when we feel like we can handle anything life throws at us, right? We have these good days. Then there are days where even the smallest setback feels overwhelming. What makes the difference?
It’s not really the circumstances we face – many of us know what it’s like to be upset by something that wouldn’t ordinarily bother us. We often can then turn around and brush off major setbacks as just being part of life.
The difference isn’t what’s happening: it’s our mental fortitude.
Our mental strength helps us to manage and resist negative thoughts and situations, and manage the ups and downs of daily life. Just like physical strength, some things are easier to lift or carry than other things, our mental muscle does the same. It is having mental strength.
Mental strength is having the skills (cognitive and emotional) to reframe negative experiences, circumstances and thoughts. To have the mental strength or toughness to resist the influences that weaken our confidence and well-being. It is not what is happening to you that determines the outcomes, it is how you respond.
I always find one of the best things to do is to change my perspective on things. Ask the question, perhaps this is all happening for us and not to us? Everything is a thought and a thought can be changed.
The things I do daily to make sure I have the mental (and physical) fortitude for the day.
These are my non-negotiables, a blueprint that works for me in so many ways.
Always before I sleep and first thing in the morning and even moments in the day. This changes your chemistry in my view. Your body’s intelligence is always listening and there is always something to be thankful for and it is one of the most powerful strategies to implement in your life.
When you enter into a grateful state of mind, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two happy neurotransmitters and studies have shown that when they are released they decrease your risk of depression and anxiety, they improve mood in an immediate way, the same as exercise.
Morning Natural Sunlight
I wake up early and expose myself to natural light. This regulates my body’s natural internal clock, keeps me energised and focused. The discipline gives me the time I need for myself to self-regulate and enhances my emotional and mental well-being. My brain now knows what happens first thing in the morning and there isn’t mental clutter as to how and what is going to happen.
Your brain and body have gone through a fast and so hydration is what optimises our body first thing. So keep it simple. I drink hot water and lemon and some sea salt or electrolytes or hydrogen water.
A walk, yoga or mountain hike is a non-negotiable in my day and the best natural form of a dopamine hit and serotonin booster. We are way too sedentary.
I often arrive at yoga early and meditate or simply breathe and set my intentions. If I’m walking I listen to podcasts or walking meditations.
Meditation is a challenge for me, it doesn’t come easy so I’m constantly working on it but my exercise makes me present and that’s my goal. I also try to incorporate exercise snacks throughout the day, instead of just an hour in the morning.
Cold Water exposure
Such as a cold shower or Cryotherapy. I do this mainly so that I can train my mind to do hard things. There are other benefits like AMPK activation, mitochondrial health, inflammation and metabolism. For me, right now, it is so that I know I can do hard things, and my brain registers this too so when things come up I can deal with them.
It is simple – each day my goal is to nourish in a loving way. To nourish my body with the best quality food, nothing processed, just real whole food, often with my family or a friend – I limit snacking and food obsessing.
Finally, while I thrive on structure and routine and feel that it gives me a sense of “control” in times of chaos – discipline often brings freedom BUT the biggest lesson in all of this is that sometimes we just need to be, let go, surrender, trust in life and know that we have the ability and opportunity to be resilient in times of need. Be gentle on yourself in this life, don’t be too rigid, self -righteous or dogmatic as this brings on a whole other level of stress and anxiety to your day.
I recently just read that the pursuit of pleasure is a modern-day addiction and won’t bring you happiness, it will bring addiction and depression. How very true is that when you think about it? We become addicted to the pursuit of pleasure and perfection.
I think acceptance is a big part of this and know that we have already arrived in this present moment and need to be present.