Growing up had my good friend Adam had all the money in the world. Both parents were surgeons and he was the kid in school who had 2 cars, and pretty much everything paid for. Having the life of luxury he never did much in school in fact he paid his way through high school and all through college.
However, as soon as he graduated from college he was pretty much cut off from his parents. In the next two years he struggled to cope with all the stresses of being independent. Instead of going through the stress and learning from it. He decides to buffer his stress through drugs and alcohol. At the young age of 27 he dies from overdose.
This is not a story of whose to blame but a story of how stress at small increments can be advantageous in life. Many of us are taught to suppress or avoid stressful situations. When we are faced with it we don't have the best tools to solve the issues. For Adam all the stresses came in at once and he wasn't equipped to handle it all at once. What are some of the stresses you avoid or buffer at life? Do you have tools or exercises to handle that level stress via anxiety or depression?
In the gym we stress our muscles incrementally at a time and over the course of a week, a month, and a year it is able to withstand larger stresses over time. The body is amazing, when there is no movement the body starts to atrophy but excessive amounts of stress the body will get injured. However small increments of stress to our body cultivates an environment that allows our bodies to adapt and get much stronger.
In the gym it is much easier to see how this system works physically. When it comes to effecting the mindset it is much more difficult to see. Our minds just like our bodies needs stressors too. Stress in not only beneficial it is needed for survival.
Larges doses of stress can be tragic to the our mind but in small increments we find ways to cope or find solutions to solve everyday problems. The problem is popular culture we are wired to think stress is a bad thing so we should avoid as much as possible. We find our selves in a community that is overmedicated, over distracted, and overweight.
We over medicate by abusing drugs, we over distract by our time spent on social media or watching endless TV shows, we use food to cope with our stresses and we become overweight.
"The obstacle is the way." ~Ryan Holiday
Can't sum this up any better, the obstacle has always been the way. Now the question is how do I exercise this part of my body when it is happening in the mind? There are a many ways an I am going to share my top 3 I use to train the mind on a daily basis.
Exercise 1: Journaling my thoughts and emotions
My default emotion is happy and positive. Anytime I have an emotion outside of that I write it down and observe it. By writing it down it makes that emotion for me less powerful. I can also look at it in a third person view. When you read aloud a few times you start to realize that it is just a thought and nothing is concrete. From here I ask as many questions as I can. For example:
Where is this emotion coming from?
What is causing this emotion?
Do I have any control in this situation?
If I do have control, what are my options?
If I don't have control why do I choose to carry this thought?
Has this happened to me in the past?
If so how did I handle it and what do I think about that past situation now?
These are just a few questions, but by allowing to curiosity to enter your thoughts it brings can bring solutions or just relief.
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” ~ Seneca
Exercise #2: Talking to someone
Chances are you are not only one who has faced these emotions before so it is extremely powerful to share your thoughts. It is no different from what we do in the gym. In the gym we have spotter or trainers that guide our movements. We perceive that our body might be moving one way but another person, friend, or expert can see that our problem might be coming from somewhere completely different.
Talking to someone will not only give you options but also provide some relief that you are not the only one with these challenges. Finding amazing professionals is the way to go, however if all you got are optimistic friends or family, then that's a great place to start.
Exercise #3: Move
When you picture someone who is depressed you might picture a person who is slouching, has very slow breath, and slow moving in general. Someone who maybe anxious can have rapid breathing, jittery, and just all over the place.
Try incorporating movement or exercises that do the exact opposite. If you are depressed join fitness environment that jacks the heart rate up and incorporates movement that really improves your posture. There are so much research now how important posture can play a role in a persons emotions. Here is an amazing Ted Talk with Amy Cuddy about how your body language may shape who you are.
Now if if a person is anxious try incorporating exercise environments that prioritize controlled breathing and slow passive movements. These can be yoga, meditation, or just peaceful nature walks.
Where do I start Coach?
Start small. It can start with just movement, and over time start incorporating more of these mindset strengthening exercises. Observe and feel how you are effected after each practice and let us know how it works for you. If you would like to seek some guidance or suggestions feel free to shoot us an email or comment below.
Stay heathy, be positive, and keep moving.