Want to Control Your Mind? Your Body Has it Covered

Want to Control Your Mind? Your Body Has it Covered

We’ve known for a while the incredible power of the mind over the body, but there’s an abundance of scientific evidence that’s showing the mind isn’t always the one calling the shots. The relationship is a two way one, with the body also having a hefty influence over the mind.

Professor Sian Beilock is a leading expert on the brain science behind human performance. She highlights the importance of early movement for babies and young children as a way to support their cognitive development.

Beilock claims that for babies, there’s enormous benefit in providing them with plenty of opportunities to safely run around without clothes and baby walkers so they can freely explore their environment.

For young kids, it’s important to get them moving, not only for their physical health but also for their mental health and to support their academic performance. Beilock emhapsises the importance of the ‘4 R’s’ = reading, writing, arithmetic and recess. Recess may be particularly important for boys – running around may be particularly important for their academic performance.

 Let’s not leave out the grown ups. Physical activity is also important for the rest of us. Beilock stresses the importance of activity, particularly aerobic exercise, on the structure and working of the brain, particularly thinking, reasoning and memory. Swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking, or cleaning the house with a rocket in your step can all improve mental health.

Beilock offers these ideas to strengthen the mind-body connection. Little things can make a huge difference:

  • Reboot the brain during work by taking a break and going for a walk.
  • Walking away from a difficult problem for a few minutes can help to bring around a resolution.
  • Posture and expressions all influence mood. Standing tall can help you to feel powerful and confident and can communicate the same to others. Facial expressions cue the brain to feel certain emotions. Smiling, for example, can make you feel happier.
  • For an exam or performance, study or practice in the same conditions that you’ll be performing in. Try to face the same position, stand or sit the same way, if you chew gum while you study, try to do it during the exam too.
  • Journalling can be a way to ‘download’ worries from mind to paper. It can improve performance by reducing stress or the worries of daily life.
  • Spend time in the outdoors. Science has shown us that walking in nature can recharge your mind and improve attention and the capacity to focus.
  • Meditation, even for a few minutes a day, can help ease anxiety and pain, among other things. It can also add heft to self-control if there are habits that need breaking. 

Our minds were meant to be strong, wild and beautiful – free to roam and learn and make us the best version of human that we can be. Anything we can do to maximise it’s potential – or to maximise the control we have control over it’s potential – will see to it that we flourish.

8 Comments

Hey Sigmund

Barbara I’m not sure but let’s see if I can help. There are two possibilities. You commented on Facebook about a book called ‘The Grief Recovery Handbook’. Is this it? otherwise, the closest I can find to the words you are typing in is ‘It’s Not You, It’s What Happened to You.’ Does this help? I haven’t read either of them but it looks like both are available on Amazon.

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Barbara

I am looking for a Book that was featured at the end of one of the articles. I noted it in my poor old brain and it slipped out. The cover of the book had a large tree on it. It was about personal trauma I believe.
But I keep typing ” you are what happened to you ” or something similar into search engines and do not get anything close. Anyone remember ?? I have read all your blogs for years but it was recent. Please Help ?

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Barbara

I learn everyday ! You are so important to me !

Please feel free to send me a bill, I owe you.

They keep trying to jam Big Pharma down my throat there’s not that much wrong, Widows hurt, it takes how long it takes. I have no doubt that I will succeed now.
The American Medical community won’t take the time to know what people are really going through.

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Louise Armoni

On Day 14 of your own 30 Days of Flight you suggested walking tall, with longer strides – and indeed it is weirdly effective. Thanks for all those great ideas!

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‘Brave’ doesn’t always feel like certain, or strong, or ready. In fact, it rarely does. That what makes it brave.♥️
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#parenting #mindfulparenting #parentingtips
We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should – respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first. 

We can’t stop difficult people coming into their lives. They might be teachers, coaches, peers, and eventually, colleagues, or perhaps people connected to the people who love them. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognise that person and their behaviour as unacceptable to them. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behaviour, beliefs or influence. 

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to others should never be used against them by those broken others who might do harm. We have to recognise as adults that the words and attitudes directed to our children can be just as damaging as anything physical. 

If the behaviour is from an adult, it’s up to us to guard our child’s safe space in the world even harder. That might be by withdrawing support for the adult, using our own voice with the adult to elevate our child’s, asking our child what they need and how we can help, helping them find their voice, withdrawing them from the environment. 

Of course there will be times our children do or say things that aren’t okay, but this never makes it okay for any adult in your child’s life to treat them in a way that leads them to feeling ‘less than’.

Sometimes the difficult person will be a peer. There is no ‘one certain way’ to deal with this. Sometimes it will involve mediation, role playing responses, clarifying the other child’s behaviour, asking for support from other adults in the environment, or letting go of the friendship.

Learning that it’s okay to let go of relationships is such an important part of full living. Too often we hold on to people who don’t deserve us. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay and if we can help our children start to think about this when they’re young, they’ll be so much more empowered and deliberate in their relationships when they’re older.♥️
When we are angry, there will always be another emotion underneath it. It is this way for all of us. 

Anger itself is a valid emotion so it’s important not to dismiss it. Emotion is e-motion - energy in motion. It has to find a way out, which is why telling an angry child to calm down or to keep their bodies still will only make things worse for them. They might comply, but their bodies will still be in a state of distress. 

Often, beneath an angry child is an anxious one needing our help. It’s the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. As with all emotions, anger has a job to do - to help us to safety through movement, or to recruit support, or to give us the physical resources to meet a need or to change something that needs changing. It doesn’t mean it does the job well, because an angry brain means the feeling brain has the baton, while the thinking brain sits out for a while. What it means is that there is a valid need there and this young person is doing their very best to meet it, given their available resources in the moment or their developmental stage. 

Children need the same thing we all need when we’re feeling fierce - to be seen,  heard, and supported; to find a way to get the energy out, either with words or movement. Not to be shut down or ‘fixed’. 

Our job isn’t to stop their anger, but to help them find ways to feel it and express it in ways that don’t do damage. This will take lots of experience, and lots of time - and that’s okay.♥️
The SCCR Online Conference 2021 is a wonderful initiative by @sccrcentre (Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution) which will explore ’The Power of Reconnection’. I’ve been working with SCCR for many years. They do incredible work to build relationships between young people and the important adults around them, and I’m excited to be working with them again as part of this conference.

More than ever, relationships matter. They heal, provide a buffer against stress, and make the world feel a little softer and safer for our young people. Building meaningful connections can take time, and even the strongest relationships can feel the effects of disconnection from time to time. As part of this free webinar, I’ll be talking about the power of attachment relationships, and ways to build relationships with the children and teens in your life that protect, strengthen, and heal. 

The workshop will be on Monday 11 October at 7pm Brisbane, Australia time (10am Scotland time). The link to register is in my story.
There are many things that can send a nervous system into distress. These can include physiological (tired, hungry, unwell), sensory overload/ underload, real or perceived threat (anxiety), stressed resources (having to share, pay attention, learn new things, putting a lid on what they really think or want - the things that can send any of us to the end of ourselves).

Most of the time it’s developmental - the grown up brain is being built and still has a way to go. Like all beautiful, strong, important things, brains take time to build. The part of the brain that has a heavy hand in regulation launches into its big developmental window when kids are about 6 years old. It won’t be fully done developing until mid-late 20s. This is a great thing - it means we have a wide window of influence, and there is no hurry.

Like any building work, on the way to completion things will get messy sometimes - and that’s okay. It’s not a reflection of your young one and it’s not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of a brain in the midst of a build. It’s wondrous and fascinating and frustrating and maddening - it’s all the things.

The messy times are part of their development, not glitches in it. They are how it’s meant to be. They are important opportunities for us to influence their growth. It’s just how it happens. We have to be careful not to judge our children or ourselves because of these messy times, or let the judgement of others fill the space where love, curiosity, and gentle guidance should be. For sure, some days this will be easy, and some days it will feel harder - like splitting an atom with an axe kind of hard.

Their growth will always be best nurtured in the calm, loving space beside us. It won’t happen through punishment, ever. Consequences have a place if they make sense and are delivered in a way that doesn’t shame or separate them from us, either physically or emotionally. The best ‘consequence’ is the conversation with you in a space that is held by your warm loving strong presence, in a way that makes it safe for both of you to be curious, explore options, and understand what happened.♥️
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#mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #parenting

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