Month: October 2014
Is your mind busy when it’s time to rest and sleep? Do you have problems switching off at bedtime? Mind active and won’t slow down? Do you toss and turn because your thoughts won’t let you rest?
If that image of being too restless to sleep sounds like you, you have a lot in common with many of the people I help and there is a good chance your flight or fight response is active.
So lets talk about one way to switch off the fight or flight response and quieten the mind down at bedtime. There are many ways to achieve this, and one I really like is to keep a gratitude journal.
Spending a few minutes each night to think about things you are really grateful for is a great way to calm the mind and body and trigger the relaxation response. Focusing on the things you have been grateful for during the day will help you to let go of the things that were worrying you and help you get a good nights sleep.
But you do need to do it properly; robotically going through things you think you should be grateful for is not the same! If you are aware of the work of Candace Pert, you will know that your thoughts trigger the release of chemicals that flood the body, but that does not really happen if you think the thoughts in a detached fashion. You need to think the thoughts with your heart too.
Why is this Important?
It is really important that the fight or flight response is turned off and the relaxation response is triggered for sleep. Normally during sleep our bodies and minds should go through cycles of healing and repair, but these cycles are associated with being in a relaxed state. When we are stressed they are put on hold and your body does not heal and repair as it should.
So if you want to be healthy and happy triggering the relaxation response just before sleep will help.
It seems odd to think we can be stressed while sleeping, but studies have shown that some people, like those with CFS/ME, do actually stay stressed during their sleep. So spending a few minutes contemplating what you are grateful for or what has gone well during the day is one way to switch off the fight or flight response.
Gratitude is great because it focuses you on what you have, not what you want or what you would like. I buy a nice little note pad for those that take part in my workshops, so they can use it as a journal and I urge you to buy something special too. Having a nice book to write in and maybe a nice pen will make the activity special and keep you motivated.
How do I Use This?
Personally I would prefer a paper based journal as modern technology like phones tend to keep us stimulated, alert and possibly stressed. Much better to create your own paper based journal which can become a treasure trove of positivity for you, as it fills with things that you have been grateful for. Something like this is ideal.
Spend a little bit of time composing your thoughts and then write down what you have been grateful for today. Feel the feelings as deeply as possible with your heart.
One lady I was talking too, said how truly grateful she felt for the home she lived in, even though it was nowhere near as nice as she would like. This was something she had moaned about and criticised until hearing of a tragedy the other side of the world where people had lost their homes and were spending night outside. Another lady spent ages trying to think of something only to realise she was grateful for the comfortable warm bed she was laying in.
Another chap said he thought of a different person he knew each night, spending time remembering how they have or had positively contributed to his life. It’s a good thing to vary what you write to keep it fresh and relevant.
Sometimes when times are tough, or we are busy and tired it is easy to answer with our head only. You know what I mean, when you say something but it does not have that emotional resonance, that physical sensation that lets you know you have felt something with your heart. Notice the difference between thinking what you are grateful for and feeling it with your heart. It can help to place your hand on your heart and allow the thoughts of gratitude to flow from there.
I wonder if you maybe surprised at what you have been grateful for today?
The power of gratitude
Do you believe other people are more interesting and loveable than you are? Do you feel your opinions do not matter? Do you lack the love and attention you need? Do you feel out of control of your life, finances and relationships? Do you believe nothing will ever change?
“Put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t take care of others if you’re running out of air yourself.”
What is this About?
This concept of self-love is about having a good relationship with yourself and your life because it takes a strong caring and nurturing relationship with yourself to do what is necessary to improve your health, well-being and happiness.
So the first step to improving your health, well-being and happiness is to improve the relationship you have with yourself.
Sadly, many people are stuck believing that taking more care of themselves will mean others suffer, or they will be seen as selfish. Women in particular are often taught by example that they should always put other people’s needs first and may feel guilty about taking time for themselves. In many ways this is ironic because to care and help other people we really need to full of energy and enthusiasm and for that to happen we need to take care of ourselves first.
Why is this Important?
Improving your relationship with yourself is vital to taking the next step and seeking help or making changes to your life. Believing that you do matter, that you are loveable, important and in control will help to you to embark and sustain your healing journey.
This is important not just for you, but for those you love, because you will be able to help them so much by being healthy and happy.
How do I Improve?
Make a conscious decision to change and you may be surprised how you gently and slowly you begin to be kinder, more loving, more permissive and more responsible to yourself.
Take the first step and print this worksheet: Improving My Relationship with Myself. Working through it and creating some personal positive affirmations to help you become your own best friend is great way to start.
I’ve seen claims like this before and laughed at them. Keeping fit and strong has been a life long interest, well at least since I was 15 and started weight training and running. I even did a Gym Instructor course a few years ago simply for interest. During all of this time the recommendation to train for strength 2 to 3 times a week, and cardiovascular health 5 or 6 times a week has never changed. Those workouts would often involve sessions around an hour long too.
My big problem has been time though, over the last few after walking dogs, being Dad, promoting the business and actually seeing clients and helping people there has not been much time to weight train. I’d start and then a couple of weeks later I’d be missing sessions.
So when I watched the Cereal Killers Movie and saw 41-year-old Donal O’Neill completing personal bests at things like pullups after reducing the frequency of his training and doing high intensity stuff I got me thinking.
A bit of research later and I found Doug McGuff’s Body of Science and so for the last few months I have been doing the shortest hardest routine I have ever done. In a nutshell the idea is that you do one super slow set of a bunch of compound exercises. Choosing a weight that results in failure after about 90 seconds and taking around 20 seconds to complete one rep. Doing it that slow is hard because there is no momentum to help. So shoulder press is followed by lat pull down, then chest press, followed by seated row and finally onto leg press and that is it for a week or two! Shortest amount of time I have ever spent training.
The thing is that it works. After a couple of months I worried that I was not working my core and went in the gym to use a cable machine and do some wood chop style moves. Much to my surprise I easily upped the weight from what I had been doing 6 months before. Equally after a couple of weeks break from swimming, with the McGuff routine as my only exercise I significantly increased the number of lengths I could swim without a break. I think I have also put on about an inch of muscle around my chest, although I have also lost a lot of body fat and never measured myself before starting the routine.
Interestingly the real proof for me has come no I no longer have gym membership. With nowhere to keep weights I have decided to try Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint for fitness, a body-weight more functional based exercise routine. This routine involves an assessment of how many pushups, pullups, and squats you can do followed by how long you can hold a plank. Depending on your results then depends on whether for example you do pushups against a wall, on your knees or inclined etc.
To my joy and amazement I managed 24 pushups, easily over twice what I have been capable of for several years. 5 pullups, 70 squats and I held a plank for over 2 minutes. Not bad for someone who is 50 years old this month.
It will be interesting to see how things workout over the next few months on the new workout. There is a lot I like about it, so I am optimistic that I will continue to gain strength and hopefully muscle mass.
Watch this space, maybe I will even be doing nude selfies lol, actually that is probably reason not to watch this space!!!!!!
Not sure whether it is synchronicity or my brain filtering for what it wants to see but I’ve had several separate sources that have made me aware that I don’t do fun anymore. Isn’t that sad? Lol I meditate, I train, eat well, and generally ‘practice what I preach’, but in all that I have forgotten about play and fun.
The first reminder came while I was receiving Cranial Osteopathy for several nagging issues. Kate Hands, a wonderful Osteopath, mentioned that I was a bit like ‘Flat Stanley’ a fictional character from a children’s book. Apparently Flat Stanley is well… flat, two dimensional when he should be three, or even four. Initially I was surprised but subconsciously I knew she was right. As Kate said sometimes we just get flattened by life circumstances. But if meditation, EFT and all the other tools I know were not helping what would?
The second reminder came while reading Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple blog. I stumbled across his Primal Blueprint for Fitness, a free Ebook that details a functional fitness routine using progressive body-weight exercises. Now since our move I have no room for my weights, and my gym membership expired so this routine appealed. The guy is also 57 and physically impressive, so I read more.
Mark’s reason to exercise and be fit involves enjoying life and enjoying play. Indeed he says “the ability to play, to engage in unscripted, random bouts of youthful exuberance with loved ones, friends, and family – is the ultimate goal of Primal Blueprint Fitness”. This nurtured the seed that Kate planted and has been slowly germinating in my subconscious for a few days now.
Then this week I began seriously working through Dr Rosy Daniel’s Health Creation Programme in preparation for training to be a Health Creation Mentor. Part of that involves an assessment of my potential for health and low and behold but it flagged up again that I don’t have enough fun! Now part of this preparation involves seeing the Programme from the other side of the fence and being Mentored myself. So one of the goals suggested by my Mentor was to have ‘mandatory fun’ and to create a mood board or journal to write down ideas for how to accomplish that. So this was my third reminder!
Reading more of Mark Sisson’s resources and I kept seeing references to playing with Frisbees, something that seems completely frivolous and generates images of kids (in the US admittedly) having fun and laughing.
So I today I bought a Frisbee…
And this afternoon, I had fun throwing and catching it with Debbie.
Mark’s Daily Apple: The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition