The mind – body connection and exercise.
You may be asking yourself (rightly) what has hypnotherapy got to do with exercise? The client pays the fee lies back, relaxes and the therapist plies the unconscious mind with beneficial suggestions to help with whatever the issue/need is-so far, so correct. Yet the body and the mind are forever and deeply linked of course -so for those feeling stressed, anxious, and depressed, the number one treatment is to take / start/ re-ignite your passion for exercising now. A key principle of the mind body connection is that where the body leads the mind follows and where the mind leads the body follows.
The Science Bit…
It is such a natural, uplifting feeling when we exercise because of the multitudes of brain chemicals (i.e., serotonin) that are released. We are making ourselves naturally happy. Exercise is vital for us all because it flushes out stress chemicals and their build up – it reduces physiological and, therefore, psychological allostatic information overload. Allostatic load is “the wear and tear on the body” which accumulates as we are exposed to repeated or chronic stress. The term means the physiological consequences of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine response which results from repeated or prolonged chronic stress.
James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D. (a clinical psychologist at Duke Psychiatry Clinic in the USA) and his colleagues surprised many people in 1999 when they demonstrated that regular exercise is more effective than antidepressant medications for patients with major depression. The researchers studied 156 older adults diagnosed with major depression, assigning them to receive an antidepressant, 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, or both. A follow-up study in 2000 showed that patients who maintained their exercise patterns were doing much better than those who were just taking medication.
What can I do?
I ask my clients to find an activity that appropriate or their fitness levels and interests – to find the right type of exercise for their bodies, that they enjoy. We are all different and it is important to remember that when we exercise, we stop cortisol and adrenaline etc building up in our systems. In turn, this means that excessive worry, anxiety, stress and depression will literally be impossible. Stress chemicals get “stuck” inside – that is, in the body, it takes a while for them to be processed and removed but we can fast-track that with exercise. If you have not exercised in a long while it is no problem- start with a slow build up 3-4 days a week moving for 20-30 minutes is fine.
Why and how exercise great for your brain and your body?
Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness but also overwhelming evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by: helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them and it causes chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood (more on this later).
What can I do and what are the recommendations?
Adults should do some type of physical activity every day. Any type of activity is good for you. The more you do the better.
- aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still
- do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week
- do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
- reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.
The bottom line…
When undergoing a health regime/ starting a healthy lifestyle -hypnotherapy can help you to-develop a robust positive attitude that will guide you to greater success and protect you from negativity. Remember though that heavy labour and exercise are not the same thing. The first makes you feel exhausted, ground- down and demotivated and its probable due to having manual duties to perform. Exercise, if and when you choose the right type and level for you, leaves you feeling exhilarated, happy, flushed out, optimistic and clear headed. If you are feeling on the edge, stress wise hypnotherapy can relearn you how to relax again by rebooting the parasympathetic (calming part) of the nervous system. Exercise is a universal and vital human need- the reality is that, unlike our predecessors, we do not hunt, fish and gather like we used to – if we focus on solutions then exercising is undoubtedly top of the list.
We are all constantly told to look after our personal fitness if we do not want to suffer from a whole range of debilitating conditions – heart disease, obesity, cancers. But not as constantly as we are bombarded with advertising to eat pizza, watch more TV and drink beer. Your secret weapon against the onslaught of un-healthy mass media is these carefully crafted hypnotic suggestions. Using the power of hypnotherapy, you can build the mental attitudes and inner determination that will make healthy exercise a routine part of your everyday life – automatically.
If all that did not convince you… some exercise motivation tips
Exercise of the right type and frequency will help you sleep deeply and increases your energy. Motivation to exercise does not come naturally to most people. The following are motivation tips that can work for many clients who need to exercise. If you need exercise motivation, they will help you, too.
1) Don’t think, just do.
Don’t give yourself time to think, over-thinking about exercise saps motivation. If you have scheduled exercise for 5.30 pm and you find yourself thinking about it during the day, then make yourself think about something else. At 5.30, just do it. Paralysis through analysis is not the way to exercise motivation. There are times when it is best not to think. Tell yourself your upcoming session is “non-negotiable”.
2) Imagine how you will feel if you do not exercise.
This is a strange one, as most motivators try to get you to focus on how great you will feel (which is also effective). If you find yourself trying to wriggle out of exercise, focus on how you will feel later if you don’t exercise. If you don’t go for that walk, run or gym class, you’ll feel: disappointment in yourself, weakness, the absence of the “feel good” chemicals that’d be circulating if only you’d been motivated enough to exercise.
3) Only look to the next session.
Constantly telling yourself: “I have to exercise three times a week” or “every day” can feel overwhelming. Why do that? Forget it and just tell yourself, “I am going to exercise today.” That is ll. Of course, all the single exercise sessions soon add up.
4) Consider the wonderful physical benefits of exercise.
We have talked about the mental benefits of exercise, helped by targeted hypnotherapy, but here are some of the physical ones: 1Improved heart and lung function.
2/ Better complexion
3/Better sex life (and more chance of getting one!)
4/ Better digestion (and bowel function) and a more attractive appearance. Almost twenty-four hours after an exercise session you are burning off more calories than you would have been. Even when you sleep!
5) Regularly consider the wonderful and plentiful psychological benefits of regular exercise.
- Better mood: The more intense the movement, the more serotonin is produced.
- Self-confidence: Regular physical exercise gives you a sense of increasing confidence and self-esteem. This can have knock-on benefits to other areas of life.
- Stress management: Exercise makes you better at dealing with stress. When under pressure, ﬁt people show less physical tension and a lower resting heart rate than less fit individuals.
6) Vary your exercise routine.
Take a week off from the gym and go jogging in the park to get the mood-boosting effects of being in nature. A night of dancing is great exercise. Do some gardening. Run with the dog. Mix it up. Variation is the spice of life – and of exercise motivation.
7) Visualise yourself exercising.
Hypnotherapy reinforces your targets, and we know that the body does what the mind conceives. You are much more likely to do something, anything, if you strongly imagine seeing yourself doing it in your mind. The better able you are to visualize yourself exercising (as if watching yourself from the outside), the more motivated you will actually be to do it.