I have been trying to live a healthy life. Does living a healthy life mean physically healthy, or mentally healthy?
“Your heart rate is forty beats per minute.”, the technician said with a doubtful tone. “I am going to check your other arm. It’s correct. “Do you work out?”, she asked. I was being prepped for an endoscopy.
A week later, the phone rang. It was the Doctor calling to tell me the results of the endoscopy. She said I did not need to be seen for two years. My Barrett’s esophagus was cured.
I knew I felt better…I mused about how it happened. I eat differently, non-dairy and more recently gluten-free. That may be part of it, I thought. Stabilizing my thyroid levels also allowed my overall health to improve dramatically.
Might my mind also play a big role in my health? In the past, I worried about everything from whether I forgot to lock the house to how my special needs daughter was doing in the moment. In recent years, I am consciously practicing ways to let go of the worry when I detect it rising up.
When practicing how to create healthy thoughts, I find that they are coming more frequently and replacing some of the gut wrenching worry that seemed to be ingrained in my mind.
There is no doubt that my life is on the high side of the roller coaster this year with two daughters getting married and a son who is launched into his career. You might think “no wonder I feel better”, but there is more to how you feel than the circumstances in your life.
We have all heard about the benefits of a positive outlook, but how does one develop that? For me, it started with yoga.
One of the most significant benefits of yoga is becoming more comfortable with breathing. That might sound funny, but it takes practice to get used to controlling your breath. When you begin to get more comfortable with controlling the breath, this skill becomes a portable tool to find calm in a moment of challenge.
Maybe yoga or meditation is not for you. Find an activity that does help you feel calm and do it on a regular basis. Notice how you feel after the activity and what action you can take away with you to put in your personal tool belt for use when stress and fear build up.
Consciously look at what is making you feel stressed. What can you control? What is beyond your control? If you feel it is helpful for you, write down your ideas. Thoughtfully create a plan for addressing what you can. Allow yourself to release what you absolutely cannot change.
Letting go of what you cannot change is a very difficult step. If you are really struggling here, counseling or coaching can be really beneficial to remove our own thoughts that get in the way of taking action.
Once you are clear about what you can do, set goals for yourself. Make the goals realistic and create baby steps. When you can check some baby steps off of a list, you’ll have a feeling of relief, accomplishment and pride.
Some people like to keep a diary of what they are grateful for each day. Naming three things each day that you are grateful for and writing them down – or just thinking about them – can really boost your mood.
Looking for humor in a situation can be another great tool for many people.
Here are some steps I use to create a healthy feeling of calm:
Coming back to the breath keeps me grounded, reboots my mind and allows me to create balance in my life. Breathing mindfully can slow the heart rate so one can feel healthier and become more aware of how to care for oneself.
Try creating a new thought that becomes your own stress buster and use it often. The thought will become reflexive and you will feel happier!