Louise Hay is my bist frind. I am so grateful that my mum bought me and my sisters her book when we were young, and I have grown up knowing that there is a connection between the way my body felt and the thoughts circulating my mind.
Food for thought… do you think we can know what happiness is or really appreciate it without experiencing times of being sad?
I recently listened to a podcast that featured Dr John Di Martini. He is a really interesting man and I suggest you google him if you haven’t already. In this podcast, he spoke about how there are always two sides to every coin. It really got me thinking, and for the life of me I can’t think of anything without an opposite…
Have you ever listened to a favourite song of yours and then missed your favourite part because you were lost in thought, then you have to start your song again? This is a great example of how we can miss out on what is happening right now, right in front of us, when we are not in the present moment. We can often be unconscious or aware of our thoughts and we either wonder off into the future or get caught up thinking about the past. It’s important to pull ourselves up and be aware of what is happening now, because, A. it’s good for our health, and B. we were designed that way, A.K.A Human Beings, not Human Doings.
Let me bring your attention to yourself reading this article right now. You are quite obviously doing something. Now think back on your day. You may have driven somewhere thinking about where you are going, or walked from A to B always with the destination or what you are doing in mind. But I challenge you to bring yourself into the present moment. When you’re walking to the bathroom next time or up the stairs to get your phone charger, instead of doing that, be in the moment. Notice your feet as they hit the ground, notice your heart rate possibly increase as you move or your muscles work so well without you telling them to. This can bring you out of your head and shift your thoughts to really enjoy what is happening in the moment.
I went on school camp not long ago and I went sight seeing with some students. In front of each amazing land mark students were taking photos of themselves, as you do. I sat back and observed curiously, until the tour was almost over and I couldn’t bare it any longer. I asked them to put their phones away and began to explain what I had noticed. When they put their phones away they began to marvel in the sights that we were seeing. That is what I mean by being in the present moment. If I hadn’t of brought it to their attention, they would have missed it. Even though they were there, they weren’t really experiencing it or feeling the positive emotion of seeing something beautiful because they were too busy being Human Doings.
What being in the present moment can do for our health…
Being focused on the now or the present moment can help with anxiety and depression, and can also increase your appreciation of beautiful things around you, making you feel more positive emotions.
Anxiety is commonly known for not trusting the flow of life, looking into the future and being worried about what is to come. Depression, on the other hand, is the opposite. It comes from past experiences or having feelings of hopelessness that we feel we don’t deserve to have. Both dis-eases often come hand in hand, and can both be relieved by practicing bringing ourselves back to the present moment.
Give me some proof, please.
In a 2015 study, Deakin University, Insight SRC, Young and Well CRC and Smiling Mind collaborated to survey 12 schools, 104 educators and 1,853 students to assess the impact of our mindfulness programs (bringing ourselves into the present moment). They monitored students’ stress, fatigue levels and wellbeing over eight weeks and found that those who participated in our program reported significant improvements in sleep, engagement with school, and reductions in classroom disruptions and bullying. They also noted improvements in emotional wellbeing and marked reductions in psychological distress, especially for those students who were more at-risk for anxiety. The results confirm the findings of similar studies undertaken by UCLA, Harvard, Oxford, Monash and Johns Hopkins universities.
There is great power in bringing our attention back to the present moment. Not only does it make changes with our emotions and behaviour, it literally reshapes our brains to be happier. Read more about this in my blog post ‘Neuroplasticity: you can teach an old dog new tricks’.
Do you have a problem right this second?
When I feel myself overwhelmed with thoughts of what will happen in the future, or replay the past in my head a thousand times and think about how I wish I did it differently, I practice bringing myself back to the present moment. There are a couple of ways I like to do this.
- Ask myself, what are five things I can hear right now/feel on my skin? Our sensors are ALWAYS in the present moment and can be a great help
- Counting my breath. ‘One’ as I breath in, ‘two’ as I breath out. Then I start again when I get to ten
- Asking myself, do I have a problem right this second? Nope. I’m lying in my bed which is quite comfortable. So is it helpful to waste my energy thinking about tomorrow? Nope, because I can’t tell the future, so I don’t even know if I will have a problem yet. I can deal with it when it comes. Right now, in this moment, I am OK.
The research comes from Smiling Minds, you can read more by clicking here.
I recently read an article in the newspaper about homelessness. What really caught my attention about it was the research outlined in the article about how labels significantly impact people’s wellbeing.
In a nut shell, people without a stable home commonly take on the label as being homeless, but not always. A lot of people who have no place to live claim they are not ‘homeless’ because their situation may be complicated. What was interesting but somewhat no surprise, was that those who described themselves as homeless had significantly lower self-esteem and wellbeing compared to those who rejected the label, even when having no place to live.
When it comes to mental health, when we use a label to describe ourselves, we begin to think and act in ways that are associated with that label.
Scientists say that we have over 60,000 thoughts a day. That is scary huge. But to me, what is even scarier is thinking about which thoughts we listen to without even realising, and which ones we let fade off into our minds just as quickly as they arrived.
I think that neuroplasticity is a concept that if we all knew how to utilise, we would all be the creators of our own reality. We would be empowered with the knowledge of how our brain works and would use this to shape our thinking and create high performing brains.
Your brain is a tool, and if used correctly it can serve you well. But a lot of us don’t realise that more often than not, our brain is using us.
Ever been on a plane? When the instructors are giving you the safety brief, you might recall the instructions being ‘put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others’. This makes sense. You’re no good at helping others with their masks if your passed out on the floor in an emergency, because you didn’t look after yourself first.
This is an extreme example, but it has the same message as what I would like to get across in this post. And that is, you cannot give your best to others, or be the best you can be, if you are not putting your own needs first. This might sound difficult if you’re in a relationship or if you see yourself being a good friend by putting other’s needs before your own. But I can guarantee you, you’re not much good to them if you’re a big pile of negative energy. And you don’t deserve that, either.
I am petrified of blood tests. You just say those two horrific words and I feel sick instantly. Ew, ew, ew, no thank you. With this kind of thinking, it is one hundred percent certain I will NOT change my behaviour and go and get one. Not going to happen. But what happens when I have to go and get one? I’m not going to all of a sudden find it an easy thing to do, and having those negative thoughts about it just makes getting one even harder. So, before I can change my behaviour, I first must change my thinking.
Blood tests are helpful. Blood tests are necessary. These are the type of thoughts I can use to replace the old ones. Only then might I change my behaviour and agree in actually getting one.
I have always believed that exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind. Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom.
Whether you enjoy physical exercise or not, you can’t deny the fact that it is good for you. For most of you, knowing that exercise is good for you in not brand new information, and more and more studies show that the mental health benefits of physical exercise are extremely beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
If you’re happy you’ll smile, if you smile you’ll be happy.
We’ve been looking at our body language and words that we use all wrong. Negative body language and unpleasant feelings like anger, being annoyed, frustrated or sad aren’t always the results of a bad mood or situation. Sometimes, they are the cause of one.