My 30 day challenge is well under way; I’ve already detailed my exercise plan and outlined my nutrition goals. I now want to focus on the final part of my challenge, and it’s an area that’s often overlooked as part of a traditional health challenge – a healthy mind.
I’m sure this particular part of the challenge will look different for each individual but everybody will get some ideas from what I’m planning. Here’s a look at a few areas I’ll be focusing on over the 30 days in an effort to get my mind to as healthy a place as possible.
I’ve covered this in a lot more detail in Part 1 but it’s relevant to this section too as there really is truth in the saying ‘a healthy body leads to a healthy mind’. Physical activity has a number of ‘mind’ benefits. When I’m physically active I tend to sleep better. I usually fall asleep faster and have a deeper, longer sleep. It’s also well known that people who exercise regularly tend to cope better with stress. Physical activity can also play an important mental health role in combatting depression and anxiety as Bressie highlighted so well recently in the excellent Ironmind series.
OK so I’ve covered this one too and in a lot more detail in Part 2 but again it is an important factor in nurturing a healthy mind. The food we eat affects how we feel as well as improving our energy, concentration and productivity. Eating well, regularly and in correct portion sizes should give our body and mind the energy balance needed to function correctly. Healthy recipes are readily available online and I’ve written previously about the healthy snacks I eat. By sticking to the nutrition plan I set out in my last blog and avoiding stimulants and depressants such as caffeine and alcohol for the 30 days, I believe I will be fuelling my body and mind in as optimum a way as possible.
The mind, just like the body, needs exercise to keep it in tip top shape. Fortunately I love to learn so I plan on using the 30 days to challenge my intellectual curiosity and foster creativity and new ideas. How will I do this? Well for starters I’m learning Portuguese so I’ll learn at least one new Portuguese word every day; simple. Secondly, I’m going to listen to a different podcast every day. There’s so many interesting podcasts out there on a range of different topics….who knows what I might learn. Finally, I’m interested in growing a business so I’m going to research this area thoroughly and meet with friends and contacts for a chat and to bounce some ideas off them. All of the above should keep me and my mind pretty active for the month!
You might say this is the complete opposite of the active mind. Keeping your mind active is incredibly important as I discussed above however it’s also important to know when to give your mind a rest, to know when to switch off. I’m talking about the complete opposite of focused thought. There’s an old Buddhist saying that recommends doing nothing at least once a day. As part of my challenge I’m going to spend at least 5 minutes every night before bed doing nothing. I’m going to switch off all distractions such as phones and computers, sit in silence and try and clear my mind of all thoughts. I’ve tried it before and it’s easier said than done! It’s worth it though if you are the type of person that has trouble switching off and often goes to bed with thoughts and worries on your mind. During the challenge I also plan on reading fiction for at least 15 minutes every evening. Reading some good fiction is a great way to detach from the hustle and bustle of daily life. My recommendation is to avoid self-development books or anything remotely work related as they simply won’t help you switch off.
I’ve read a few articles recently that were championing the benefits of getting outside into nature; Ectotherapy is the official term apparently. Benefits of being in nature include improved well-being and mental health and it can also help in the fight against anxiety and depression. I love adventure and the outdoors plus I love the fact that I live beside 3 parks and a canal with lots of green space to walk, trek, run, cycle and explore. On my 30 day challenge I plan on getting outside to one of those parks every single day; rain, hail or shine. I aim to walk, run and cycle more than I usually do during the 30 days, being sure to incorporate that in to my overall exercise plan.
Last but by no means least I will be as positive as I can be this month. I will ooze positivity at every opportunity and see how much is reciprocated. I want to laugh as much as possible for the 30 days so friends and family will be needed to help out here! I want to visit and discover new places during the 30 days; a change of scenery is always a boost. I plan on avoiding the news during my challenge. Let’s be honest, the news on TV and Radio is almost all bad and that negativity has no place in my healthy challenge. If there is some major event that I need to know about I’m sure someone will tell me. Positive thinking is good for your health so let’s see if my positive outlook will have any impact on my health and wellbeing over the course of the month.
That’s it for the Healthy Mind folks; Part 3 of 3 of my 30 Day Challenge. The goals above along with my Exercise and Nutrition plans form the basis of what should be the healthiest 30 days I’ve ever spent on this planet. We shall soon see how much I can accomplish in a month…..I’ll update soon!
What’s your challenge? Can you do something similar? What are your health goals?
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Yours in health, Brian