Mental attitude, outlook, and positive habits are important factors in reaching goals in all phases of life. Whether you are training for an athletic competition, looking to advance in your profession, or looking to get relief from chronic back pain, what you think is just as important as what you do. Many people want to make changes to improve overall health, but struggle to get started and sustain progress. Let’s take a look at three actions that can be implemented to strengthen your mind, and get your brain in a place where it can lead your body to success.
Make your bed: Okay, I know what you are thinking, “What does this menial task that brings back memories of my mother yelling at me to finish my chores have to do with a healthy lifestyle?” This small activity can have a profound impact on your day, however. Every single day we face a multitude of challenges. Some large such as completing a sale to a high profile client, and some small such as putting your sheets and covers in order. While the act of making your bed probably won’t matter much, it's the decision to take on the first “challenge” of the day and come out victorious that sets the tone for how the rest of the day will progress. Excellence is a habit, not an act. And building a positive habit takes practice. If you say “yes” to making your bed, you can say “yes” to cleaning out your inbox. If you say “yes” to cleaning out your inbox, you can say “yes” to going to the gym or performing your physical therapy exercises. All of these decisions lead to healthy habits, and it starts with looking and your messy bed first thing in the morning, and deciding how you want your day to go.
Reframe for Gratitude: How we look at life has a profound impact on what we do and how we feel. You may have heard the Charles Swindoll quote that, “Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.” A consistently negative thought process can lead to all kinds of health issues, including chronic pain. Did you know that one of the strongest predictors to how long your back pain lasts is how unhappy you are at work? A lot of this can be adjusted by what you focus on. If you have a big budget meeting that you are dreading tomorrow, starting the process of stress and worrying today can lead to a day of poor digestion, irritability, and altered sleep. None of this is good for your health. Certainly prepare and be ready for any events in the upcoming week, but try not to perseverate on them. Try this little trick. As you mentally prepare and think about what the next day has in store for you, think about something that makes you happy. Instead of dreading going to work and having a meeting with your boss, be grateful that you get to watch your son or daughter play soccer after the day is over. Focusing on a positive part of the day instead of dreading a negative can have a big impact on health. By no means is this easy, and some days will be much harder than others, but practice makes perfect.
Get lost...in a good way: No matter who you are or what you do, the stressors of life will inevitably come knocking on your door. Work, family, financial, and relationship stress can all add up and affect your mental well being. Having a safe and healthy way to “get out” of your head and do something that makes you feel good is a vital coping mechanism. The options are endless. It can be formal such as going to the gym, writing in a journal, meditating, or practicing yoga. Or it can be informal, such as taking a walk, going for a drive, or taking a minute to listen to your favorite song. Finding a way to release stress will help prevent excessive cortisol buildup in the body, and make you feel just plain good.