Cardio for the mind

Oh, the stories we tell ourselves.

Few are kind and helpful. Most often, the ticker-tape of our thoughts gets stuck on the difficult and the negative. Self-criticism seems rampant and we often under-estimate what we do.

We may believe the nature of our inner thoughts is private, and doesn’t matter. But this isn’t true. Our thoughts do matter, and they have an effect on our lives, maybe more than we know.

Becoming aware of the tendencies of our minds, and knowing we can change critical or negative thought patterns to support our health and happiness, is powerful medicine.

At this time of year, many people are making resolutions. Often, these resolutions involve our physical health; we resolve to:

  • Quit a bad habit
  • Eat better
  • Exercise more.

If health is a focus for change in 2020, you may want to change your mind, or more accurately, ensure your mindset is augmenting any of the physical changes you decide to make.

Do you want to receive greater benefit from the exercise you’re already doing? Our mindsets matter!

Adding some punch to your exercise may be as simple as engaging your mind.

What we think about our physical activity and exercise makes a difference.

Our bodies are always listening and responding to our thoughts, beliefs, and expectations.

This can help or hinder our health, depending on which mental tape we’re running.

I’ve long been intrigued by research into the body-mind connection and the effects our thoughts have on our health.

Recently, I came across research on a group of hotel housekeepers whose jobs were physically demanding. Exercise was inherent in their work, but many of them didn’t recognize it.

Two-thirds of the group said they didn’t exercise regularly, with one-third reporting they did zero exercise. These housekeepers had active jobs, but they weren’t aware of it.

As part of the study, half of the group were then told that their work provided them with good exercise, according to the Surgeon General’s requirements, and the other half wasn’t made aware of this fact.

Four weeks after learning their level of activity at work qualified as a good work out, the benefits were apparent.

Not only did the housekeepers who learned about the exercise they were getting via their work see themselves as more active than at the start of the trial, they had lost weight, and had reduced blood pressures compared to the other half.

Nothing had changed but their minds and their awareness.

Their bodies responded to what they now knew. They didn’t just feel more active, their bodies reflected the benefits of their new knowledge without any change to their activity level.

Our bodies and our minds are connected. Our bodies respond to the messages they receive from our minds.

What kind of messages are you sending your body? Would you ever think of speaking to another person the way you speak to yourself?

When we start paying attention to the good things we’re doing, acknowledging the positive instead of focusing on the challenge, it amplifies the effects we hope to achieve.

One of the best resolutions we could make is to start with mental hygiene. Learning to be more encouraging and kind to ourselves supports, not only our mental health, but our physical health as well. 

Happy New Year!


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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