12: Take Care of Your Body

Recently, I developed Achilles tendonitis.  This means that I can’t go out running, can’t sprint, etc.  And I can feel it, not only in my body, but also in my mood.  Exercise is so important as your physical energy is connected to your mental and emotional energy.  Studies have been done on the use of exercise for depression and stress.

The Mayo Clinic explains that exercise is so important for stress reduction, due to the release of endorphins.  It can also act as a form of meditation, particularly if you find a flow within the exercise (which I typically do).  In addition, you can increase your confidence and good feelings about your body as you exercise.  When I go through periods of stress at work, I find that lifting weights or running into work really help me feel calmer and able to leave the stress behind.

The NHS explains that exercise is very good for dealing with depression.  It starts off by giving us a sense of control in our world.  Again, the endorphins can help.  I’ve ‘assigned’ walking to a few of my clients in hopes of helping them increase their mood.

Exercise is just one way of taking care of your body but it’s such an easy way.  Just walking for 30 minutes a day can help improve how you feel and can be done without too much money or effort.  Get out there and start moving!  I can’t wait to get back into my normal routine, that’s for sure!

11: Find Something Bigger than Yourself

For some it may be religion.  For others, it’s through a form of spirituality.  And for others, it may be through math or science.  Regardless, we need to recognize that life is bigger than us.  Once you realise that you are not the soul focus of the universe, you become more connected to our world.

I love doing various types of meditation to find this connection.  It may be while sitting on the tube, while walking in nature or while sitting in my bedroom.  It doesn’t matter how I get that connection as long as it comes.  I have friends who find a connection through painting or writing.  Become focused, become mindful, find a way.  It’s tough in our current world to unplug as we’re constantly connected through mobile phones and computers.  How many of you find it tough to be away from any technology while on a holiday?  Can you do it?

Here’s a great Ted Talk by Andy Puddicombe about doing a mindfulness exercise in 10 minutes.

 

10: Commit to Your Goals

This can be a tough one. It can be scary to commit to something that might or might not work out.

I went to see Carol Dweck yesterday in a small talk given in central London. She spoke about her book, Mindset, and the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that effort means that you aren’t smart or talented, and so you if it doesn’t come easily, they won’t do anything to get better. Those with a growth mindset believe that you can work toward becoming better at something and that mistakes are a good way to continue learning.

In order to fully commit to a goal, you HAVE to have a growth mindset. There will be set-backs and you may have to learn new skills. You have to work on optimising your strengths and figuring out how to work around or strengthening your weaknesses. Do Not go for perfection in the way a fixed mindset sees it – as nothing can go wrong. Go for “perfection” in the way a growth mindset sees it – working toward making what you do better and better along the way.

My goal is to start and improve a private practice in psychotherapy. I have begun to follow this goal by getting into a CBT programme at Oxford, finding a space to do my therapy, starting a twitter & facebook page that will eventually be linked to a website (as will this blog), and through networking as much as I can!

So, make those goals and go for them! They can be a small goal or a big one, it doesn’t matter, but find that passion!

9: Savour Life’s Joys

One of the things I’ve learned from my meditation experience is that one should live life in the moment. When you do this, you start to appreciate the little things – the taste of good food, the beauty of a flower, the scents on the air, the feel of the warmth on your skin, etc., etc.. When we’re in the midst of our typically stressful days, we sometimes forget to slow down a bit and look at the world around us.

One little thing that my husband and I have been doing is making sure that at least once a week we eat without any other distractions. We can enjoy the food that we’re eating and each other’s company. We make sure to try something new or be creative with something we’ve done in the past. We truly savour the flavours in front of us and the time to catch up on how life is treating us.

So, today, stop for just a minute. Let go of any thought that comes to mind about your day other than what’s happening in that moment (it’s okay if they come, just acknowledge them and let them go with a breath out). Notice the sounds around you. What does the weather feel like? What can you smell? Notice if it’s noisy or quiet. What do you see? What beauty can you find? What didn’t you notice just a moment ago? If you can do this daily, you will start experiencing more joy in your life.