Exercise not only changes your body. It changes your mind, your attitude and your mood.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in your head?
You know the times when…You can’t shut your mind off, thoughts that don’t serve you or your situation don’t stop popping up and you remain paralyzed by what’s happening in-between your ears…
I’ve been there…
Plenty of times. I used to experience this chaotic and overwhelming sensation right when I would wake up. My mind would immediately start racing and it would sound something like this:
Oh, my goodness, I need to get going.
I need to get my yoga and workout done.
What about this project I need to work on?
I need more time to study!
I need to call…
Oh — shoot I totally forgot to pick this up!
Need to calendar this…
If it does, I empathize with you. The mind is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a prison — if we let it.
The mind will do what the mind is supposed to do: Think, sort, create and so on. But when we let our minds dictate how we show up in life — then we have a problem.
Your mind is yours to master and it can be done — with continuous and consistent effort.
And maybe when you wake up your mind isn’t racing, maybe your mind starts racing in the middle of the day or right before you go to bed. Either way — when the mind is racing, it can be draining and overwhelming.
I remember I would have panic attacks the night before I started my work week when I worked in the corporate world. Every Sunday would come with dread, being fully aware that in less than 24 hours I would be consumed by work, anxiety and a lot of stress.
And the sad thing about it is — it robbed me of my entire day. My Sunday’s were completely shot. All I could do was think about work. Everything I did on Sunday’s was foreshadowed by what was to come on Monday. I missed out on time spent with friends and family, I missed out on finding joy in the present moment, and most of all, I missed the entire day because I was stuck in my head.
The Hard Truth
When I reflect on this, I have an overwhelming sense of guilt. Not because I could do better (I believe that each of us is doing the best that we can do with the tools we are equipped with), but because I missed out on so much.
I missed out on sunsets, laughter, joy, peace, appreciating the little gifts that are given to us each day.
I missed out on so many days and my wish for you is to not experience the same.
Why This Matters
Ask yourself: How many days, hours, minutes and moments have you missed out because you were stuck in your head?
Your mind can create a mountain out of molehill — and when it does -what do you gain?
Nothing. Instead — we lose.
And let me be clear — I am not negating any emotion, sense of anxiety or how hard your situation may be. I’m not. But instead — I’m sharing my thoughts on this subject, because I missed out on so much of my life and my hope is that you don’t experience the same.
Why It’s Important To Get Out Of Your Head and Into Your Body
The mind is a beautiful thing. It has afforded all of us the ability to live the way we do now. Technology, art, first-world luxuries and so on. Without the mind, none of this would be possible.
But the mind also has a flip side to it. It can create a self-imposed prison. It can keep us stuck, hindered by fear and paralyzed of the unknown.
I have a quote that hangs in my office and it reads like this:
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. –Seneca
This quote instantly snaps me back to the here and now. (Maybe you take the time to write this down and hang it somewhere you will read often?)
What I want to drill home is this: Life is short and as far as I know, we only get one shot. Be here now, because this is all we have.
Why Getting Out of Your Head is Important
Most of us will agree that a brief sunny walk will improve our mood in the short-term. And we’re aware that exercise is known to produce feel good hormones such as endorphins and enkephalins, but even knowing this, we may still struggle with a daily exercise regimen.
If I were to tell you there is one thing you can do every day that will help you lower your blood pressure, reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease and diabetes — you would be all ears. We all want to look healthy — but we often dismiss the mental health benefits of living an active lifestyle.
Exercise is known to reduce the likelihood of depression, it helps maintain mental health as we age, and is a great intervention for conditions such as dementia, anxiety, and cognitive issues.
I’ll spare you the science right now, but the bottom line is this: There are thousands of studies that without a doubt, prove exercise directly affects the brain in a positive way.
The next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, strap on your shoes, get up and move your body. And most importantly, reframe the reason why you’re moving your body — you’re not just moving your body to check off that box in your planner that states you quote-on-quote worked out today — but instead- you’re moving your body to better improve your mental health for the long run.
Now you might be wondering….
How the heck do I get moving when my mind is racing!? How do I get out the state of being stuck in my head and transition into a state where I feel better emotionally and physically. Here’s how:
How to Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
1. Call Bullshit Right Away
When your mind is racing, the anxiety is coming on strong and thoughts that do not serve you are flooding your head space — I literally want you to stop them in their tracks by saying one thing to yourself: BULLSHIT.
I don’t know how many times I have done this — but it works and maybe you find a different word, phrase or mantra that works for you. But when you use this technique — you stop those incessant thoughts in their tracks.
Using the world BULLSHIT works for me for the following reasons:
-It reminds me that all the thoughts in my head are most likely not true and they aren’t productive.
-It allows me to clear the smog from my headspace and take a deep breath.
-It reminds me that the old stories of who I am no longer serve me.
-It reminds me that I live in the present — right here, right now and nowhere else.
2. Get Up and Get Moving
It’s not enough to call bullshit — it just isn’t. Right now — you’re on a mission to rewire your brain to immediately stop your restless mind and to do that we need to couple it with some feel good hormones.
I literally want you to get out of your chair and move your body. Go for a walk around your house, the block, your office. If you can do more movement — do it. Stop and drop — and give me 20 push-ups or squats, sit-ups or jumping jacks.
I want you to do your best to get your heart rate up. Why? Because when we get our heart rates up, even if for a brief moment, we release these amazing, feel good, juicy hormones called endorphins. And these endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, something similar to that of morphine.
By coupling the BULLSHIT technique and getting your body moving — you literally are rewiring your brain to not tolerate a racing and unproductive thought processes. Do it enough and you will find yourself doing these techniques on auto-pilot. (You’re welcome)
3. If You Need More…
Let’s get real: Calling BULLSHIT and moving your body for a short period of time may work for some situations, but for others, we may require more intense movement.
When you find yourself needing more I suggest carving out 20–30 minutes of time for movement. This movement can be from anything from a brisk walk, lifting weights, going for a bike ride, using that staircase in your building and so on.
And there is no right or wrong — but the essence I want you to go for is to ultimately forget about why you’re moving your body in the first place. Use your body as a tool to remind you that you are more than capable to face adversity and that you can do it calmly, collectively and confidently.
4. If that isn’t enough…
Real Note: Sometimes calling BULLSHIT and getting your body moving isn’t going to cut it. There are times in your life you experience devastating situations and experiences — and when this happens — I want you to call or talk to someone.
Send out SOS text to someone. Look a trusted person in the eye and tell them you need to talk.
By simply reaching out and connecting with someone — will let your soul know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to stay stuck in your head to figure it out all by yourself.
Our minds are a beautiful thing. They have created things that once were only captured in someone’s imagination. But our mind can also imprison us. It can run on auto-pilot, it can keep us paralyzed and fearful, but on the flipside- our minds can be trained to our liking.
Life is tough and so are our minds. Be the driver in your own life and use your mind as a tool to get you to where you want to go.
Just like puppies need to be house-broken — our minds require reframing and training, so we can adapt to stress in our lives and cope in a healthy way.
Try out the above technique (Call BULLSHIT, Get Moving and Reach Out) and see how one simple, but effective technique can create long lasting change in your life.
Let me know your thoughts about the technique above and how you plan on using it in your life.
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Tara Massan is a writer, wellness coach, yoga teacher and dreamer. She is sharing her journey everywhere she goes — for one purpose: To help others live with more ease. If you’re looking to live with more ease and create a happier and healthier life, click here to learn more about her coaching sessions.