Why You Need to Think Differently To Save Yourself and Your Health
Many self-help books claim that creating a whole new you (i.e. stress free, ultimate transitional mindsets, and so on…) is as simple as reading their book. However it takes major discipline, will-power, and habitualization to pull off their proclaimed “transcendence goal”. There is a much easier and convenient way to create a positive change in your state of well-being.
We are much more prone to stress nowadays because we weren’t equipped for the 21st century, and this is because of evolution.
A humorous Ted talk given by Ruby Wax explains this perfectly (Link at the bottom). She states in the beginnings, ancient man would flood with adrenaline and cortisol when faced with a threat. The chemicals released would prepare us for the fight. Adrenaline to energize us, and the cortisol (stress hormone) to regulate many changes that occur in the body during stress. Then we would both kill and eat the prey or unfortunately the prey would consume us. If we were to survive, the chemicals would then return to normal levels.
She then discussed modern man. Jokingly she says when modern man faces trouble, we cannot kill and eat our prey (in this case she is talking about police officers or other problems that face modern man). Therefore the chemicals stay unbalanced and we are left in a constant state of alarm. Also as our vocabulary evolved, we started to put words to the constant problems that would face ancient man, in which would also cause a constant loop of stress.
Lastly she states, “ The problem is that what once made you safe, now, drives you insane.”
This is where the solution comes in. Creating a change in your life to optimize your mood, your state of well-being, and other traits is much easier than you think. It doesn’t take a self-help book to optimize those feelings either; it is just two simple techniques that have been used for centuries. These strategies are exceptionally beneficial and worth your while, however they depend on focus, relaxation and the ultimate quality very few of us have nowadays…. patience. And these are just the very few obstacles that comprise people’s quest to a calmer mood, a sense of well-being, lower blood pressure, reduced stress and anxiety, increase blood flow, lower heart rate, decreases oxygen consumption and other major psychological and physiological advantages.
We cannot afford to pass up these techniques.
The first technique is meditation. For example, studies suggest mediating daily for 8 weeks straight can dramatically increase grey matter in your brain, which consists mostly of neurons. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. While 20% of all oxygen taken in by the body goes to the brain, 95% of that goes specifically into the grey matter.
With this being said, we must treat mediation as a mandatory activity in our lives. We must look at mediation as being an essential requirement in our daily schedule. Sitting in a comfortable position, (sitting up is the common position) closing those heavy eyelids, shutting off tumultuous thoughts, and simply focusing on your breathing creates a sense of tranquility almost instantly. We can finally begin to slow down our fast paced lifestyles and really place our awareness fully on ourselves. Placing full awareness on our internal environment can produce mental clarity and a much more manageable mind.
If meditation does not interest you, there is another technique known as mindfulness.
Being mindful is also directing ones awareness away from the broad aspects of our external stimulus, and directing it towards one item or thought. Mindfulness courses are spreading rapidly throughout the community and many are benefiting greatly from the techniques that are practiced.
For example, individuals are asked to examine a single raisin. They are told to focus primarily on the raisin, placing their full awareness on it. Examining the size, shape, and the color. They would put the raisin in their mouths and slowly, with their tongues, rolling the raisin back and fourth. Feeling the texture, the indentions, and the wrinkles.
This may sound odd, however these are just one of the practices of mindfulness. Have you ever placed your full awareness on your food, examining it like a scientist in a research lab? My prediction suggests not many people have, but this practice is very beneficial.
Scientific American states that practicing mindfulness has many benefits such as reduced rumination, stress reduction, a boost to your working memory, focus, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and other benefits.
You don’t need to always rely on self-help books to make an effective change in your lifestyle, psychological/physiological health, relationship issues, and other troubles. Meditation and mindfulness are simple techniques that can be done virtually anywhere, and anytime. I would like to end this post with a quote from Time Magazine,
“Finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently.”