What if I told you there was one thing you could do each day to vastly improve your physical and mental health? Something that would boost your mood and energy level? And that you’d get these positive effects at no cost?
I know you’re really busy. Daily life has a way of sucking all your time and despite your desire to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to avoid falling prey to the convenience of processed foods. And the trip to the gym becomes a chip you trade in to have more time and keep your sanity.
Today, I want to share three practices that will strengthen your mindset. These are practical strategies that give you a positive outlook, reduce negative emotions, and provide just enough physical activity to get my body and mind into a balanced, energized state.
You might have a difficult time understanding how doing more is even possible, but hear me out. This is a net positive time gain. I promise.
A mindfulness practice.
A basic mindfulness practice that takes less than 5 minutes per day (yes, that small amount) can turn everything around for you. You’ve probably thought of mindfulness as a relaxation technique, which it is. But it can do so much more than just lower your stress levels and blood pressure.
Mindfulness can change your entire emotional state.
The best way to think about it is to compare it to rebooting your computer.
My mindfulness meditation now takes about ten minutes each day because I include some professional and personal growth goals. It is made up of the following things:
- Six deep breaths to calm my mind. On the podcast, I’ve talked about breathing practices when you’re in a stressful situation, but it is also a good way to start any exercise to improve your mental wellbeing.
- A review of my vision and why.
- I spend time thinking about the things I’m grateful for. When you’re feeling gratitude, it is impossible to feel anger, fear, or worry.
- I spend a few minutes considering my current situation and success. My physical health is excellent. I have strong relationships with my loved ones. And I’m helping thousands of people move away from health issues and find wellness through my podcast and as clients.
- Then I go over my short-term goals (this month) and mid-term goals (next six months). This gives me an intention for the day and I go in with a solid action plan.
When you’re first starting out, you should focus on the first three. This will take you five minutes or less. You’ll start your day with a very positive outlook.
Regular brisk walks
I am a huge introvert and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good long brisk walk. I enjoy spending quality time in my head. Just call it a support group of one.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” My walks are when I’m sharpening my axe. I consider the walks as part of my working hours. I’m planning. I’m problem-solving. This mindful activity helps me focus on the things that will give me the most professional and personal success.
Walking and regular exercise improves brain function. In fact, there are several studies tying physical activity to better mental health and cognitive ability. I invest about 6 – 7 hours per week broken into 2 – 4 walks.
Maybe you can’t initially invest the time for long walks. Even short walks, particularly when they’re in a green space will help.
Manage Social Connections
Another thing I’ve done recently is to pull away from social media. When social media first came out, I thought it would be a great thing. The ability to connect with people around the world is wonderful. But more and more I’ve felt more emotional distress then social connection. Where I thought there’s be an opportunity for greater understanding, we see constant pain, anger, and hate. Even positive things are attacked.
I still do what I need to do for the Facebook Group and Twitter. So, I installed a Chrome extension called Social Fixer that hides political and other topics I choose. I may scan my feed to keep up to date with family and major current events. I spend less than 10 minutes on social media each day. I easily save an hour each day that I would have been on Facebook and Twitter.
And I significantly reduced a primary stressor for me. It has definitely improved my mental health over the past four months.
All together, these three strategies have had a huge impact on my health and fitness. I have a more positive view of things because I’m no longer mired in the worst-case scenario that is presented on social media. It also aligns with my ancestral lifestyle because I’m certain none of my ancestors spent hours troubled by a comment on social media.
If you were doing the math, you saw that my investment in the positive things is pretty much netted out by the savings from pulling away from something that wasn’t serving me. So, for no money (except for a comfortable pair of shoes) and limited time investment, you can use these three strategies to improve your mental wellbeing and avoid pitfalls and worry.