One of my mottos with exercise is ‘little and often’. In fact, this maxim can apply to many different areas of life. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, the motivation to exercise can wane…
So, here are some interesting facts about the benefits of exercise that might help.
· Taking daily moderate exercise (like brisk walking) for 30 minutes five days per week is associated with improved brain structure and function (University of Maryland, 2014).
· Regular resistance exercise with light weights — enough to make you sweat — can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, crucial for growing new brain cells (Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, 2017).
· Walking briskly, running or cycling — cardiorespiratory exercise that makes you breathless — is linked with sustained cognitive power in older age (Norwegian University of Science and Technology cardiac exercise research group).
· Circuit training for more than three months boosts cognitive ability and blood flow in the brain (University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, 2013).
· One or two hatha yoga sessions per week over six months offers a range of benefits to areas of the brain that are associated with clear thinking, memory and emotional self-control, according to an analysis of 11 studies conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois.
Keep going! Exercise is beneficial in so many ways.
After a particularly busy-with-work October, I’m now relishing a slightly less frenetic November, and with it comes the recognition of silence again. The modern world can feel loud: constant beeps, pings and other alerts, the chatter and the clatter, and the hum of electrical equipment. It’s why, for so many people, silence is the most sought-after experience. Even Jane Austen was said to have written: "Let us have the luxury of silence."
Here's a few ideas of how you might like to carve out some time to experience silence, every day.
• Try immersing in the stillness of an early morning, or late at night, with no one else around.
• Aim to still your attention for a few minutes in the middle of your day.
• Process your day and quiet your mind before bed, to aid sleep.
Of course, some might say that you don’t need actual silence to experience peace and quiet, and if that works for you, it’s an added bonus. Focusing on a quiet mind and a still body can manifest the benefits of actual silence, wherever you are, whenever you like.
This week’s blog offering is all about ego – and just like the word itself, this is a short one.
For many people, ego is about being big-headed (“She’s got such a big ego!” when someone is being boastful or pompous).
But that’s not the whole story. Ego is present every time we feel any kind of fear, or hear ourselves saying "That's mine!" perhaps when we describe a relationship with someone else, or an area that we work in.
But these things can’t be owned. If we detach from things that we might like to think belong to us, we can then get rid of ego and be free from the idea of ownership.
If we are truly secure in ourselves (my current favourite phrase) then we can let go of petty ownership and realise there is enough for everyone.
This month, it’s my friend Julia’s turn to take on the guest blog spot. Julia and I met when working in education consultancy and have also run well-being retreats together.
"I was absolutely delighted to be invited as a Clean Well-Being guest blogger this month. I was poised to write a gentle blog about autumn and daylight. Naturally, after Saturday night’s announcement, cruelly impinging on our Strictly escapism, any blog about mental health takes on a more urgent tone. Protecting our mental health at this time is an absolute necessity in order for any other part of our life to work effectively.
As a Solution-Focused Hypnotherapist, I use deep relaxation, visualisation and positive language patterns to help clients banish anxiety and develop strong self-esteem. Unlike a talking therapy such as counselling, Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy is fast-acting and forward-thinking, encouraging clients to move into the life they want, without dredging through past experiences to get there.
I have central tenets to my work, which I’ll share here. They appear painfully obvious, but, as Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy is grounded in neuroscientific understanding of the brain, they really do work!
1) Get good sleep. Ensure that you are asleep before 11pm in order to benefit from the optimum amount of R.E.M. as your brain processes the days events. Hypnotherapy creates the same effects in the brain as R.E.M. sleep.
2) Think positively. An anxious brain automatically looks for danger, but there is always good to be found. A daily practice of gratitude also releases feel-good hormones and aids sleep.
3) Interact with people you like and make you feel good. While many of us are supporting family and friends who are struggling, ensure that you seek out the ‘radiators’ in your life: the people who lift you up.
4) Make small steps forward in things that matter to you. Priorities have changed and our worlds have been brought into sharper focus. Suddenly, the play you always wanted to write, or finally learning an instrument is a burning necessity. Whatever your commitments, take tiny steps towards achievable goals. These ‘fripperies’ are the things that make life worth living and bring expansive joy into our lives as our world gets physically smaller for the time being.
Schedule these essentials into your life as you would exercise, nutrition or medication, knowing that they really are the difference between merely surviving and emotionally thriving."
For more from Julia, visit www.oxfordfamilyhypnotherapy.co.uk.
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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Clean Well-being blog