You wake up and grab your phone. Turn the alarm off. Start running through the list of things that needs to happen that day and what order you will do them in. You check Facebook, instagram, twitter, email etc. While you sip your coffee or tea and (maybe) eat your breakfast. Does this (or some variation of this) sound familiar?
This is how most people start their day and they think it is causing them no harm and some might even think that they’re being productive. But are you feeling stressed out regularly? Run down? Tired? Or have you gone past that point and started feeling sad for what seems to be no reason? Not hungry? Can’t sleep but are tired? You might also be over or underweight or bloated all the time and struggle to get any muscle definition. You can’t recover from exercise like you could even a few months ago.
There is a better way. I call it the Mentality Method or Mentality Approach to life. You can start to make your body feel better by doing some small things and making tiny alterations to your day. We spend our entire lives hammering our brain and our body, thinking our body will handle whatever we throw at it but the truth is that it won’t. You will break and you won’t be able to do a thing about it. You can end up with depression, adrenal fatigue and even serious health conditions can occur like crohn’s disease.
Our biggest problems as humans is we tell ourselves that it won’t happen to us. I’m here to tell you that it’s already happening to you and if you don’t do something about it soon your symptoms will worsen. So here are my tips on how to focus on your mentality to help your body’s physical health.
Cut down mobile phone, tablet and computer time at the right times The first thing you need to do is put your phone down. Stay away from it for at least one hour before bedtime and at least half an hour after you wake up. You don’t need to see what your friends ate for breakfast or what their kids did last night and your emails can wait. We will discuss that shortly. Your brain will thank you for it. If you can’t manage an hour before bed, try half an hour and add a blue light filter to your phone. You will be able to fall asleep better and wake up better just by doing this.
Start a gratitude journal This is an easy one. You don’t have to write anything spectacular. It can be as simple as “I am grateful for how good my coffee tastes today”. Get a pen and book and start.
Once you get used to doing this, you will most likely get bored and that’s ok, I get it, the new toy isn’t shiny anymore. So here’s what you’re going to do. Every morning in your gratitude journal you will write 3 things you are grateful for and on Mondays and Wednesdays 3 goals for the day. Again they don’t have to be big, just a goal. On Sunday you will review your journal and decide what you liked most from the week. The mind will believe what you write down as opposed to just saying it or typing it on your phone or computer and remember you now have half an hour that you’re not spending in front of your phone every morning now so you don’t have an excuse not to. Do this for one month and it will be a habit. A habit that will help you create some mental space to focus throughout the day.
Work in chunks or blocks Multitasking is a myth, a lie even. A humans brain can only focus consciously on one thing per moment. We can switch between jobs really fast but we cannot do two things at one time. We get distracted. It’s human nature. If you would like proof of this google “TED talk pickpocket” and you will see a talk from Apollo Robbins and he takes advantage of this exact thing to create misdirection.
So to stop us from wasting time and getting distracted. Only do one thing at each moment. Work in blocks. Set an alarm if you have to, to go off every half an hour. Here’s an example, 1 hour is set aside to answer your emails and only your emails. You won’t pick up your mobile or go work on your side project at the same time. Just email. Then when that time is up, move on to the next item, cleaning or eating lunch, filing or meetings, conference calls, follow ups. Whatever it is, set a time to do it and only work on that thing in that time. Treat it as a AMRAP if you like (using CrossFit terminology – see more on this idea here at Mentality WOD). If you run out of time, come back to it later or set yourself more time tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to set multiple times for one task throughout the day either, this could end up being far more productive for you rather than one big block. We humans learn better when we make mistakes so don’t be afraid to do some learning. This does take practice but once you get it your day will be super productive and far less stressful.
Learn to foster mindfulness or meditate Mindfulness is creating space in your head. It is learning to be present in the moment and being ok with what’s happening in your head. The very first step I like to tell people to do is to just sit comfortably and close your eyes and relax for two minutes. Learn to be in that moment for just two minutes. For a lot of people this is a nightmare and those people are the ones that need to create a mental break the most. There are several apps (eg Headspace) you can download to your phone to use as a starting point for guided meditation to help those that struggle. Don’t be mistaken though. People tend to think they will find enlightenment and some divine power from a mindfulness practice or meditation. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about resetting and creating some space in your mind so that you can think a little more clearly and work through the busyness in your mind without running into so many dead ends.
Sleep at least 8 hours per day I know this one is asking a lot for some people. Try this, 6 hrs per night plus meditation and on the days that you don’t have to get up early or go to bed late, you make sure you get 8 hours of sleep. 6 hours isn’t enough for anyone by any means. If you have the opportunity to go to bed at an appropriate hour and choose not to then you need to work on that. Sleep is where all the recovery and reset works. You have two versions of your nervous system ‘fight or flight” (everyone knows this one) and the ‘rest and digest’ system. If you’re not getting enough of the rest and digest time (sleep and recovery) then your body is going to have super high stress levels. Sleeping is also when the brain transfers memories from short term to long term. So if you’re studying for something try taking a nap after a cramming session. It will come back to you easier.
Smile more Just the act of smiling alone can change your hormone levels and reduce stress. That’s why they say laughter is the best medicine. Find the bright side of things. Listen to what is going on around you, pay attention to it and choose to take all of the good points from it. This is how athletes learn from losing. “I didn’t win but I now know what I can do to improve my performance”
Be happy to make mistakes. Don’t put all of your hopes on one thing going right because when you focus on it that hard if it does go wrong it can shatter you emotionally. Give yourself options; room to breathe if something doesn’t go according to plan.
If you work on these steps of a Mentality Method to life you can make major improvements to your hormone levels which, in turn, affect how well you burn fat and hold lean muscle mass. Then it will start to snowball into a fit, healthy and happy you. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Life is more fun with mistakes.
Go have some fun.