Almost every person that I talk to talks of wanting to have more energy, feel a sense of better health, look amazing in their skin, and/or just not feel so damn “blah” all the time. More times than not, a healthier lifestyle is often associated with the physical aspect of working out, eating healthy, and participating in actions that promote wellness and longevity. But, too often, people minimize the importance of a stable and balanced mental well-being. The body and mind are an integrated unit and any improvement in our emotional well-being can help prevent disease, increase energy, and promote physical healing and vibrancy.
Tap Into The Power Of Positive Thinking!
“Positive Polly.” Yep, that’s me and that is what I have been referred to many times over since I have adopted my new way of life. But, I wouldn’t change it for anything and here is why…
Why is positive thinking and visualization so important? Mental outlook on a situation plays a vital role in your health. Positive OR negative reactions have corresponding physical effects. How? When we are scared or angry, our bodies pump out huge quantities of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, aka, the “flight or fight” mechanism. This keeps us safe from harm. The hormones boost heart rate, flood the bloodstream with energy-giving glucose and make blood platelets sticky, so, if we are wounded, blood will clot faster. When the threat passes, our system returns to normal levels. We all experience this at some point in our lives and it is a perfectly healthy response…in moderation and when viewed positively. But, if we are constantly negatively stressed, angry, depressed, or anxious, we remain ready for battle. This can raise blood pressure, weaken our immune systems, and cause other types of damage throughout the body.
What we think is what we become. Our viewpoints create our life and, literally, help to shape our health and physical body. The more negative, stressed, and upset we are, the more drama pours into our lives and the less energy we have. Our bodies feel physically heavy and, so often, our doctors start to clue us into all these physical problems that appear. Our workouts are harder and less productive and we start to crave foods that are less than supportive. But, when we change our mindsets and become more positive, our world view looks a little different. Colors are brighter and smells are stronger. We have less headaches and more energy. Our physical bodies feel lighter and more vibrant. Food is more satisfying and there is less emotional eating. And, when coupled with the other keys to a healthy lifestyle, physical problems and diagnoses become less and less. Positive people and life opportunities start to become a regular occurrence in your daily life. How do I know this? I am living this experience right now. Remember, we are souls that are living and renting a physical body!
How do you begin your positive thinking transformation? I have grown to absolutely love practicing the art of positive thinking and feeling the rewards that it has to offer. It didn’t come easy and it is still a struggle most days to stay consistent! For me, having some tools in my toolbox ready to use helped tremendously to start my good habits and then continue to allow them to grow. Here are some tactics that worked for me:
- Keep a “joy journal”: Write down what you are most grateful for and what is absolutely amazing in your life. Do this daily. After time, you will find that we have more to be grateful for than initially appears!
- See the challenge, not the threat: It is all in how you view an obstacle. By looking at a situation as a learning experience and discovering what you can learn from it, your view will be much lighter and easier to navigate through than if it is seen like a large rock in your path.
- Break the pattern of negative self-talk: It is all about changing your approach to a negative situation and what you tell yourself. Do you blame yourself or do you give yourself a break?
- Practice regular grounding and inner calming techniques: Before entering into and during a stressful situation, practice some simple mind-body connecting or some deep breathing to help calm your nervous system and your mind down so that you can think more clearly.
- Positive affirmations: Practice daily affirmation of positivity and what you want to believe about yourself or a situation. For example: “I am radiant, beautiful, and strong and enjoy a healthy, passionate life.”
- Visualize what you want for the future, rather than what you think you are stuck in. Practice regular visualizations of what you want your future to look like and what you want in this life. Visualization helps to keep you focused, excited, positive, and drawing the goodness into your reality.
This does not mean that stressed out individuals are doomed and the calm individuals will never get sick. This simply means it is just as important to manage your mental well-being and emotions, as well as your physical well-being. A positive attitude, reaction, and state of mind to situations helps in rounding out a person’s balanced lifestyle.
How Does All Of This Really Affect You AND What Can You Do Right Now To Stay Healthy?
The five major causes of death (cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and injury) can all be caused or prevented by the things we do everyday. Below are some tips to enhance your physical and mental well-being:
- Fight stress with laughter- Stress helps to increase health problems such as headaches, fatigue, heartburn, and even heart attacks. Humor has the same effect on stress hormones that exercise and relaxation do. With laughter, cortisol and epinephrine levels drop and the growth hormone increases. Growth hormone stimulates the immune system to fight off infections and disease. Humor is also a great anesthetic and has been proven to distract you from pain.
- Build stronger relationships- A connection to others has been shown to protect against a wide range of problems, from colds to heart disease. A strong, healthy, and supportive social network can actually help to promote healthier habits and increase positive emotional well-being.
- Enhance spirituality- Several studies note that prayer is one of our most enduring coping and calming mechanisms. You do not have to be religious to embrace spirituality. A sense of spirituality, however you define it, may produce health gains if it brings meaning and purpose into your life.
- Learn to relax- Most of us find it hard to fit in even 10 minutes a day taking it easy and spending time on ourselves. Meditation, yoga, and visualization lower heart rate and blood pressure. Just do it!
- Deal with depression- Studies show that 1 in 4 women will experience depression at some point in their lives (according to the National Depressive and Manic- Depressive Association). Depression interferes with the heart’s ability to speed up and slow down according to the body’s needs, which can lead to arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. Signs of depression are fatigue, feeling sad or hopeless, eating or sleeping too much or too little, trouble concentrating, and thoughts of suicide. If you have signs of depression, see your doctor. Do not ignore these symptoms.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco- One out of every 6 deaths in the US can be blamed on smoking and the more preventable illnesses are caused by tobacco than by anything else.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink if you drink at all- Small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial to the heart, if you do not have health concerns or are taking medications that would state otherwise. Too much alcohol, however, can damage the liver and contribute to some cancers. Limit your drinks to a few per week and, remember, one drink is 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine.
- Become nutritionally sound- Heart disease, some cancers, strokes, diabetes, and damage to your arteries can be linked to what you eat.
- Get up and move- Exercise can prevent a variety of problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and even depression. Aim for 3-4 times a week to start. Ask your doctor before you start an exercise program.
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure levels- Periodic testing is recommended for adult men and women. When either of these are high, they can increase your risk for heart disease, and other diseases.
The Skinny On Exercise And A Lack Of Time To Do It
The number one reason college students and adults do not train as often as they would like is lack of time! There are always obligations and work or school duties that pop up, making exercise hard to prioritize. The misconception for many is that to benefit from a workout, you need a long training session. To obtain results, all you really need is 30 mins of a good, solid program most days a week! Here are some tips to fit exercise into a busy schedule…
- Designate a time for training and stick to it. One common mistake people make is telling themselves that they will “exercise when there is free time.” When you are busy, free time doesn’t just appear. You have to make it, and be purposeful about it. Designate a specific time and/ or place to fit fitness and activity in. And, make it a commitment! For some, performing a workout first thing in the morning, before obligations and distractions begin, is optimal. For others, it may be after everyone goes to bed or maybe spreading your workouts throughout the day into smaller bouts of exercise.
- Make it a date. Put your workout into your calendar and mark it as priority. If you schedule it, your workout is more likely to happen instead of falling by the wayside.
- Make workouts efficient by embracing circuit training. The theory behind this is to keep the resistance lighter, repetitions higher, and the pace faster. You want to keep the pace up with minimal rest periods, except a short break to get a drink of water. During a circuit training, it is best to use your time wisely and incorporate multiple muscle groups at once. By doing so, your body has to work harder, expend more energy, and burn more calories. You will also attack more body parts in a shorter time frame. It is also a great idea to incorporate quite a few leg exercises into you circuit! When muscles are stressed, they require more blood to be pumped to that area and, since the quadriceps and glutes are larger muscle groups, you will find yourself working harder due to the levels of increased stress created. Try this circuit on for size: Perform 20-30 squats, 20 lunges each leg, 10 push ups, 20 slow and controlled crunches, and 10-20 burpees in a row without rest. Rest for a minute. Repeat sequence 2-3 more times.
- Incorporate more physical activity into your daily activities. You don’t need to go to the gym to get a great workout in. There are other options to increasing your activity. Be creative during those weeks that getting to the gym is not possible.
- At school or work: Walk the stairs on your breaks, walk to your destination, do isometric exercises using your desk or work station as resistance, do some squats or calf raises or lunges while waiting, take a walk over your lunch break, etc.
At home: Do step ups onto a solid table or ledge, reverse crunches on the sofa, push ups with your feet on the coffee table, bicep curls and lat raises with some heavy books, walk the dog, clean house at a vigorous pace, etc.
What are the benefits of exercising and why should you bother to make it a priority?
- Helps control weight
- Increases energy levels
- Improves confidence
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves cholesterol levels
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Controls appetite
- Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
- Reduces stress
- Helps build and maintain bones, muscles, and joints
- Enhances flexibility and posture
Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition!
Proper nutrition and fueling of the body is essential to energy levels, mental clarity, decreased stress and anxiety, and physical health, just to name a few. In times of stress and obligations, proper nutrition appears to be more of a hassle and more time that has to be spent on planning, but, in the long run and with consistency, you will benefit greatly from proper nutritional planning and it will become a habit. Check out my article on nutrition during busy times to get you started!
Take action now! Do you stand tall during stressful times in your mind, body, and soul practices or are you lacking in one of those areas? Start with the positive thinking and attitude adjustments by picking one area in which you can perform daily to increase your positive outlook on life. Recruit a friend or a family member to help you along in your positive mental well-being journey! I want you to comment below or email me through my website, Facebook, or Twitter and tell me all about it.
Are you currently living a positive life and/or recently made changes? I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…
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