Strengthen Your Body & Mind
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3 Steps for a Healthy & Productive 2022
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2022 is here. Crazy right?
I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of new years resolutions. How I see it, there's no need to wait for the new year to come around before making some form of change in your life.
But, that being said, I do think that there's a psychological aspect to the start of a new year that makes it a nice time to hit reset & start taking action.
So, today I'm outlining 3 simple practices that you can implement into your daily life to make your 2022 your healthiest & most productive year yet!
1. Move Regularly.
It all starts with movement. Especially first thing in the morning.
This is important because doing so sets up your day for success - Newton's first law is that an object that is in motion, stays in motion. This means that if you can begin your day with movement (which is beneficial both for your body & mind, as I'll get into), you'll experience a positive feedback-loop effect, causing you to feel more inclined to commit to do things later in the day that are also beneficial for you (e.g. smarter nutritional decisions).
So how does movement actually benefit you?
Well, for starters it greatly improves the function of your brain. Your mind & body are intimately connected - in fact, they're pretty much one & the same thing.
You're probably well-aware that when you don't feel great you don't feel particularly motivated to move your body, but it's actually a two-way street - movement impacts how you feel mentally.
Regular exercise boosts production of BDNF (known as the 'miracle-gro' of the brain), a protein which helps ensure optimal functioning of brain-cells & delays the onset of neurocognitive disease. What's more, exercise has been shown to be as effective as medication & psychotherapies for treating depressive symptoms, while also boosting focus & reducing mental fatigue.
Not convinced just yet? Well, on top of that, movement has been shown to increase divergent & creative thinking, which comes in handy to.. literally everybody. You might not have the most creatively demanding job in the world, but there are always going to be aspects of your life that require you to think outside of the box & consider ideas from a different perspective.
Let's not forget the physical benefits. We all know full-well that regular movement helps you maintain a healthy body weight. But that's not all. Regular movement preserves joint health & simply allows you to feel good in your body!
I can vouch for this - during my 2 years of working office-based jobs, I was constantly feeling tight, limited in my mobility, and suffered from aches & pains. I wasn't moving throughout the day, & my body paid the price for it.
Movement really is the remedy for these physical discomforts.
You don't have anything crazy. I suggest starting each day with a 5-10 minute walk or doing a few light movements/stretches in your front room. Then during the day take regular breaks to get up & move your body - walk around, relax your shoulders, squat down to the ground, stand tall, expand your chest & reach your arms overhead and out behind you.
Express yourself through a full range of motion like this on a regular basis & you'll be sure to notice a difference in how your body feels.
One of the practices that I've found to be highly effective in my own life is to outline the night before what I'd like to get done on the following day.
I find that when I do this, I don't experience the indecisive & mental inner conflict that I otherwise often would. Instead, I wake up, have a clear idea of what I'm going to focus on that day, & then just crack on with it.
The reason why this is such a powerful practice is because of this: every human has a finite ability to make rational & smart decisions. As you go through the day & become tired & stressed-out, it becomes increasingly difficult to make good decisions.
Think about, after a long day at work it can be difficult to then commit to a task that requires you to pay close attention & make important decisions. Instead, most people opt for activities that are less cognitively demanding, such as watching TV or scrolling through instagram.
So, by offloading the decision making process & reducing the amount of decisions you need to make during the day (by making them the night before), it becomes a whole lot easier to actually do the things that you want to do!
3. Reduce Friction.
What's typically the hardest part to taking action? I know for me, it's getting started.
Removing friction is about lowering the initial energy/effort needed to begin taking action. Essentially it means taking measures to reduce the psychological resistance you hold towards taking action - to give yourself the greatest chance of actually doing what you intend on doing.
In my eyes there are two great ways of doing this - by lowering your internal bar of expectation, and making adjustments to your environment.
Allow me to provide an example.
Let's say you set the goal of doing some form of exercise each morning. Problem is, the choice between getting out of the bed or hitting snooze is a tough one. To increase the chances of you feeling compelled enough to get out of bed & exercise, reducing friction is key.
In this instance, it might mean aiming to do just 20 minutes of exercise (lowering the expectation), as well as laying-out all of your workout clothing/equipment the night before (adjusting your environment). Simple tweaks like these will make getting your ass out of bed & ticking that exercise shaped box so much easier.
So have a think about what typically holds you back from getting started & see if you can come up with ways to reduce that friction. Work smarter, not harder.
Christian Lawal Personal Training.
Personal training in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Sevenoaks.