Listen to ‘Train your mind and body’ below.
Read ‘Train your mind and body’ below.
Our brains and bodies are really incredible. Look at the likes of Usain Bolt running 100m in under 10 seconds, human rights activist and youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, who used her mind and personal story to conquer fear and help so many people around the world. And, of course, the late Stephen Hawking who lost the use of his body but unlocked his mind to give the world insights into the universe. Yes, these are extreme examples of both physical and mental strength, but they are true and factual - when you apply your brain and body, you, my friend are unstoppable.
I am not comparing myself to any of the amazing individuals mentioned, but I know what it’s like to step out of your emotional and physical comfort zone to progress and grow, and if I may be so bold, I’d love to share this with you...
I know for a fact that when I’m feeling mentally detached, exercise always features heavily in my daily routine, and I’ve only just realised the reason why… because it’s highly distracting. What is the likelihood of being able to obsess and worry if you’ve just got in from a 6 mile run and you are totally wiped? It’s amazing how your priorities shift, if you weren’t physically and mentally drained, you’d be pumping your obsession into thinking about how you aren’t totally satisfied in your job, the uncontrollable success of your child’s future, or the uncertainty of whether your relationship is as rock solid as you thought.
Controlling what seems uncontrollable
Now, I am not saying that when things get tough, drop everything and do exercise, because it’s probably not very sustainable in the average person’s lifestyle with jobs and responsibilities lurking, but it is a highly valuable coping mechanism. Speaking from first hand experience, when my anxiety heightens and I can feel everything in my body quicken as if my insides are doing some kind of unexplainable jive, I know it’s time to burn off nervous energy, and quick. Don’t let irrational fears get the better of you. Find a personal mental coping strategy which may or may not include some form of physical exercise. For me, running is my outlet, it’s something that I always have. And will always find challenging but the challenge makes it all the more worthwhile.
Don’t let irrational fears get the better of you.
Train your body and mind
I remember going into the gym a few years ago when I was feeling particularly bleak mentally. I had a lot going on in my mind and thought going to the gym (a surrounding I was very unfamiliar with) might help me switch off, and distract me from all the other emotional stuff going on around me. My first visit was incredibly unsuccessful and highly intimidating, I think I went on the treadmill for about 5 minutes and was quite convinced those were my last moments on earth, not only was I mentally unfit, I was entirely physically unfit as well. I went home with a battered ego that day, but it started me on a path of thinking that if I did a little bit more, then a bit more than that, then a smidgeon more than I’d done the previous day - that, well… I might actually get somewhere, and make some progress. And, do you know what? I did. It took a very long time, and it was boring in parts but the feeling of finishing that half marathon I trained for, the hours of literally sweat and pain was all worth it because in that moment when I crossed the finish line several months later, I felt whole. I’d set myself deadlines, I disciplined myself and it had paid off. I felt totally complete in both my body, and my mind.
I very much believe that your body and mind work in tandem, and if one is fully functioning there is a high chance that the other one will be too. That isn’t a coincidence, it’s because they are entirely connected. Holistic wellbeing is both mental and physical health, one doesn't really work without the other. This also means that you stick within your own boundaries, and do as much as you feel comfortable doing. There is no ‘one size fits all’ scenario with this, health is what makes you feel well.
Brain boot camp
So, I challenge you, if we can do this with our bodies, the vessels that carry us around - why can’t we do it with the most important and complex organ in our body? You’ve got it, our brains. The hub of all our thinking and neural activity, if we don’t train our brain to think rationally our thoughts and feelings are going to go haywire. Building habits is crucial for this, and there are plenty of ways to do so. Get into the healthy habit of appreciation… it sounds fluffy, but stay with me on this one. When I’m feeling a bit miffed, and unaccounted, I suddenly get a grip and realise that I am in a privileged position. I have friends, a steady job that I love, and people around me who actually care about my wellbeing and happiness. If that’s not striking the life lottery then I’m not sure what is… You have to appreciate the little wins, because that is what pushes you along, and drives you to the big successes. Have difficult conversations, things you know you need to address, this could be about your finances, family quarrels or someone you’re close to needing your help. Problem solving, and breaking situations down into bite sized and manageable scenarios trains your brain to think logically, avoiding panic and pandemonium.
Keep calm, and energised.
The 87% app is great for this, it challenges you to answer some fairly difficult questions at times, perhaps things you may not want to say out loud, but can reside in the comfort of your own phone - give it a whirl, and see if it works for you. Yes, you can’t visibly see the difference, but you can certainly feel it. Once you’ve mastered the art of rational thinking, you might start to feel less overwhelmed and firmly back in the decision making driving seat.