Wellness Tip of the Day: Adequate rest is important to having enough physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. Adequate can change by day and person.
Last weekend, I was listening to a teleclasses while eating breakfast, checking and responding to email, contemplating a client session, and reviewing and taking notes on a white paper written by Bruce Schneider on spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical energy.
As I read a passage in “Driving Engagement: Sustaining Success Through Core Energy Dynamics and the Core Energy Coaching Process” suggesting that multi-tasking, stretching oneself too thin, doing too many things at once, and having conflicting demands may impact mental energy, I literally laughed out loud. Guilty on all counts.
How often do you catch yourself focused on or doing more than one thing? Do you ever have conversations where you are so distracted you can’t remember what was discussed? Do your conversations jump around from topic to topic? Do you ever forget what you set out to do because you got distracted by something else?
Often, people blame this on aging or outside influences. In truth, we are fragmenting our own mental energy creating mental stress.
According to Schneider, mental energy involves how much brain power you have available at any given moment, your ability to be present in the moment, and to be alert, focused, and clear. These are necessary for harnessing your mental faculties for decision-making, idea generation, performance–truly all areas of life.
Mental engagement is a matter of focusing your brainpower on a specific goal, role, project, or task. You know you are fully mentally engaged when you are in the reputed “zone” or “flow” where you lose track of time, physical needs, and are totally and joyfully absorbed in what you’re doing.
In a society that encourages split mental focus, is it any wonder that many people are often mentally stressed? Mental stress can be caused by either being too mentally stimulated, or not being mentally stimulated enough. When the mind is stressed, concentration, clarity, focus, creativity, and decision-making suffer.
Fortunately, engaging mental energy—and reducing mental stress—can be learned and practiced. Just like working out you physical muscles improves strength, working out your mental muscles improves clarity and focus.
Ways to work on your mental muscles are to focus on being present in the moment and on doing the task at hand. These can be improved by meditation, setting reminders on your cellphone to return your focus to the moment, or using a mantra, such as my personal favorite, “I’ll feel awesome when this is done.”
Other suggestions are to create clear action plans and remove or minimize distractions. (Hello email, Facebook, and other social media!) The clearer you are about what you need to do to accomplish a goal or task, the more present you will be and the more you can engage your mental faculties.
This is one of the reasons why creating meal plans and workout schedules improves your ability to achieve wellness goals. It reduces mental stress by eliminating ambiguity and improving focus.
How can you identify and eliminate things that keep you from being fully present? How can you practice concentrating on the task or goal at hand? What difference might reducing mental stress have on your ability to meet your goals?
Together we can do it!
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While I had an awesome weekend of coach training and connecting with friends and family, the mental and emotional intensity and the late hours left me mentally and physically tired.
When I’m tired, it’s easier to sabotage my thoughts, which lead to feelings that inspire actions that don’t support my goals.
For instance, when I got home Monday afternoon, I discovered that my husband had made Chocolate Chip Cookies while I was gone, which lead to a mental debate about eating some. In the end, I totally rationalized my decision to eat three cookies after dinner.
That’s not that big a deal, right? It’s not the end of the world, or my diet. No long-term damage was done.
But if I don’t make myself aware of those mental processes that lead to eating the cookies and let that line of thinking become a pattern, then I will consistently make choices that don’t support my goals.
Left unchecked, that line of mental reasoning can become so ingrained that when I’m trying to change my actions, it can seem like my hand is involuntarily reaching into the bag of cookies and moving them to my mouth.
If you’ve ever felt like your eating was out of your control, just know that’s a sign that you have some long-term habitual thinking going on that does not support your new goals.
If you can, try to document those unsupportive thoughts. They might be something like:
- I’m tired and I deserve a treat.
- It’s too hard to lose weight or eat healthy foods.
- I’m never going to reach my goal.
- What I really deserve is to be fit, strong, and lean. I have more energy and feel better when I eat healthy foods.
- How I look and feel when I am eating healthy foods and losing weight is worth the extra time and energy to prepare the food and stick to my goals.
- Slowly making progress means I’m more likely to maintain my results. Any progress means I’m moving towards my goals.
But in reality, we may be so out of touch with our thinking that we honestly aren’t aware of those sabotaging thoughts. Or we have so many thoughts racing through our head, it feels impossible to catch them as they’re happening.
If that’s the case, it’s a lot easier to catch the emotion. Negative catabolic emotion always is letting you know that your thoughts aren’t supporting Who you truly are.
Pay attention to how you are feeling when you are reaching for that bag of cookies. Notice how you are feeling when you contemplate skipping your workout. Jot down how you are feeling when you don’t want to get up and prep your food for the next day.
You don’t have to know the thoughts that lead to that feeling to create more anabolic supportive thoughts. Even if you can’t do it in the moment, go back later and create supportive thoughts that you can reach for the next time you are in that situation.
When you are coming at it from the emotional side, it’s helpful to write down these new supportive thoughts, and read and practice them daily so they are easier to grab hold of when you feel yourself sliding into emotion that is leading towards the action of comforting yourself with food.
You can use the process of redirecting your thoughts to reach any goal. Notice how you feel when you have successfully navigated the mental and emotional obstacles and are that much closer to success.
Use that new positive anabolic emotion to motivate yourself to keep reaching for more and more supportive thoughts. You can truly change your life by changing the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that lead to your actions.
Together we can do it!
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