Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Motivator: Healthy Mind

Monday Motivator: Healthy Mind

Long work hours... stress... some of us have turned to food! When we experience stressful events or negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, emptiness and sadness food can bring us temporary comfort. They don't call it “comfort food” for nothing do they?!
When we expect something to bring us pleasure and/or relief from distress, that expectation actually amplifies the rewarding value of food. This is what we call a “vicious cycle.” We can change this cycle!
  1. First, change our emotional appraisal, or expectation of food to bring comfort (happiness, etc.) and “retraining your brain” to think in a different way. Draw towards what you want and push away from what is no longer desirable. Develop a statement that draws you towards healthy eating habits like this, “I feel great when I choose a healthy way to cope with my emotions!” Next, develop a statement that pushes away from using food as a coping mechanism. Something like “Eating to comfort myself actually makes me feel more miserable.”

  2. Find behaviors to replace food. Develop a “Menu” that lists any pleasurable activities that you can think of and any comforting activities that you can think of. This way you will have a list of options that you can use to obtain pleasure and/or relief from emotional distress. Some examples of “Comfort Menu” items include: Deep Breathing, Meditation, Positive Imagery, Squeezing a Stress Ball, Giving Yourself a Hand Massage, Make a Stress Free Zone to Relax Within, Spend Time Outdoors in the Sun, Stretch, Take a Quick Walk, Listen to Your Favorite Song, Write Your Emotions Down, Light Scented Candles, Smell Citrus or Coffee, Talk to a Friend or Cuddle with a Pet.

  3. Trigger & Strategy . You can use the items on your “Comfort Menu” to fill in as the new routine.
    1. This should look like this: “When [identify the cue], I will [identify the new routine] because it provides me with [identify the reward].”
    2. Here’s an example: “When I feel stressed, I will take a walk because it provides me with a sense of calm and peace of mind.”
    3. Whereas the old automatic response would be to eat when feeling stressed, the new routine would be to take a walk. This planned response is a guideline for you to follow. Write it down. Read it. Practice it. We are going for progress, not perfection. Change is a process, not an event. 


    Seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain matter and create well-being

    Focus Time When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.
    Play Time When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain.
    Connecting Time When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain's relational circuitry.
    Physical Time When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways.
    Time In When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.
    Down Time When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.
    Sleep Time When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

    The Healthy Mind Platter was created by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute and Clinical Professor at the UCLA School of Medicine in collaboration with Dr. David Rock, Executive Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute. Images and articles were found here