Health and Wellbeing – Looking after your brain – Part 2
In March we took at look at how you can keep your brain young, active and healthy by learning a foreign language (Part 1). This month in part 2 we explore other ways of increasing the well-being of your mind which is the key to improving well-being in all aspects of your life for a healthier, happier you! I am going to share with you some of the methods I use with my own clients in life coaching sessions.
When clients come to me for coaching they want to end the session feeling better than when they started. How you feel about yourself or a situation starts from inside your own mind, so it is crucial to understand that when dealing with your own mental wellbeing you need to separate influences into two clear categories: internal influences and external influences and how you allow those to affect you.
If you are easily affected by socio-environmental factors such as the weather, social unrest, politics, the people around you at work, it may be time to start working on some ways to minimise the effect of things that you cannot necessarily change and work on increasing your positive internal attitude to help you deal with the way you react to those things that you have no direct influence over.
So here are my top, five favourite tips for helping you get back into a happier, healthier frame of mind.
Tip 1: Get reading:
You are what you think, so a great way to change negative thought patterns into positive ones is to put some fresh, new thoughts into your head and ‘reboot’ your mind on a daily basis. I like to call this ‘meditative’ reading, as it is a cross between meditation and brain massage. It’s like providing your brain with an army of intellectual ‘antibodies’ to kill off the offending invasive dialogue or negative self-talk. I always create a bespoke reading list for my clients, geared to fast tracking them into a new way of thinking and creating new thought patterns. This method will open up your mind to a host of new possibilities. It’s easy, pleasant to do, takes very little time and produces fast results!
Tip 2: Get exercising:
Exercising on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Exercise increases BDNF, which stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. When BDNF is released into the system, brain growth and neural connections are enhanced. Through exercise you will also release endorphins, the neurochemicals which relieve pain and have a tranquilising, euphoric effect on the mind. Exercise can be as individual as you are, so it doesn’t really matter what you do, be it yoga, walking, biking, swimming, running or working out at the gym, it will all have a beneficial effect on your mind and help you to see things from a new perspective. Sometimes people can over exercise too, which will have a detrimental effect on the mind and body. Over exhausting yourself will produce cortisol the stress hormone which will reverse all the positive features of exercising. If you’re struggling with your weight training and ready to give up, DON’T – because apart from building muscle and strengthening your bones, it also improves such cognitive functions as decision-making, resolving conflict, and improving focus. Remember that as you reach rep number 19
Tip 3: Memory workout:
People always ask me how I manage to remember so much. The secret is giving your brain a workout programme. In both my one to one and corporate training programmes I teach memory fitness strategy. It is actually possible to sharpen your memory through training. Visualisation is one of the tools I teach extensively along with concentration and other effective memory skill techniques to improve the retention and accessing of memories and information. If you don’t use it you will lose it! Regular reps are the key just like for a physical workout and it’s fun too.
Tip 4: Bust Stress:
Stress and stressful people will poison your brain! If you meet someone who makes you feel bad about yourself or who drains your energy, try and distance yourself from them as fast as possible. They are releasing toxic energy, which you will absorb. The effects can be devastating leading to sickness and in many cases chronic depression and disease. You will probably say that often it is unavoidable due to your work or personal circumstances. If you choose to stay in such a situation, be aware that you will need to practise a regular mental ‘detox’ to rid yourself of the negative side effects of being with such people or situations. If you really cannot change the situation then my favourite tip is to get outside into contact with nature as soon and as often as you can. Trees and plants have a cleansing effect on the mind, restore balance and replenish mental energy. If I am in contact with a stressful situation or person, I head for the mountains or a beautiful park as soon as I am able, to detoxify my system. If you feel you are suffering from chronic stress, some coaching sessions can help you change your game plan and restore balance while showing you how to deal with toxic people and circumstances.
Tip 5: Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone:
This is one of the greatest and most effective ways of taking care of your brain. It is something I try to practice at least once a year. This can take the form of a big challenge – usually physical- coupled with several small challenges throughout the year. It is something I both fear and look forward too at the same time, yet it is fantastic for your brain. Do something that stretches you to your limits, making you feel slightly uncomfortable. This will wake up every neuron in your brain, getting you to fire on all cylinders and give your mind a thorough spring clean and makeover. After your challenge you will feel better than ‘as good as new’, you will literally feel taller as if you have grown both mentally and physically and you will be ready to tackle anything the world throws at you. Even better news is that your brain will remember that you tackled something really challenging and succeeded and it will subsequently apply that ‘rule’ the next time you are faced with any kind of challenge.
Sometimes though, people need a little extra help because they have become so entrenched in a situation, be it personal or professional that they can no longer see the wood for the trees. If this sounds like you, then some life coaching may prove valuable to help you get back on track fast and cut through all the procrastination techniques that you have built up over the weeks, months or years!