Creating a Mindset for HealthAug 07, 2022
So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a difference?
That thing is mindset.
Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset.
And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought. It turns out that having a positive mindset about your health can improve your physical and mental health! The mind-body connection is real.
A very interesting health mindset study
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.
Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people's health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.
What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren't less active!
How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?
There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we're less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn't good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.
Researchers don't know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset. And our mindset affects our motivation. If we feel like we’re active, then we’ll live that way, and vice versa.
So, let me give you some strategies to boost your mindset for health.
Health mindset strategy 1 - Aim for good enough.
Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It's inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn't necessarily a great mindset to have.
It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt - none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally - one step at a time.
So, instead of having a strict approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.
Progress, not perfection!
Health mindset strategy 2 - Stop making tradeoffs
When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you're making a tradeoff. You're telling yourself that, as long as you're good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.
Notice if you ever barter with yourself, make deals, trades or swaps related to food or other behaviours.
In this mindset, one “good deed” gives you license to “sin” elsewhere.
And that's not such a great idea because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You're controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you're trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness.
Instead treat every choice as an individual one, in the present movement, and act according to your principles and long-term goals. And if you “slip” acknowledge that it was a choice YOU made, treat it as a learning experience (why did you make that choice?) and move on.
Health mindset strategy 3 - Focus on the positive
Yes, this is a choice! Begin to notice the good things in life!
And yes, you will notice when other things happen to you that you would rather avoid, but try not to dwell on them - you might even ask yourself if there is a lesson to be learned from moments of adversity!
Instead, remind yourself of what's going well, of what you are grateful for.
End of day exercise: By now you've heard of "Practicing Gratitude" ~ this can be during a meditation, or when you're journalling, or simply a few thoughts you remind yourself of as you are settling down to sleep.
And studies show that it really does work!
Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.
Thinking positively, and dropping the judgmental, good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.
One of the best practices is to live in the present moment–a meditation practice will help with this!--and notice your choices and decision-making process moment-to-moment. Without judgment, simply notice and then ask yourself if there might be a different, healthier choice that you could make.
How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know!
And, setting your mindset in a positive direction at the start of your day can be so powerful so here’s a ridiculously simple recipe to shake up your morning lemon water. (And it’s good for your intestines, too!)
Recipe (Morning mindset refresher): Chia Lemon Water
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ½ lemon, sliced
- Add the chia seeds & lemon to your favourite water bottle. Fill to top with water.
- Serve & enjoy!
- Tip: Shake before drinking.
Mind over matter? How fit you think you are versus actual fitness - Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mind-over-matter-how-fit-you-think-you-are-versus-actual-fitness-2017081412282
Making health decisions: mindsets, numbers, and stories https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-health-decisions-mindsets-numbers-and-stories-201112123946
How I quit weekend overeating. 5 surprising strategies that helped me ditch the bingeing, the guilt, and the extra weight. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekend-overeating
Giving thanks can make you happier https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier#:~:text=In%20positive%20psychology%20research%2C%20gratitude,adversity%2C%20and%20build%20strong%20relationships.
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