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

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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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.

Reply
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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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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The move towards brave doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a shuffle - lots of brave tiny steps, each one more brave than before. What’s important isn’t the size of the step but the direction.

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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #neuronurtured #anxiety #anxietyinchildren
You know who I love? (Not counting every food delivery person who has delivered takeaway to my home. Or the person who puts the little slots in the sides of the soy sauce packets to make them easier to open. Not counting those people.) You know who? Adolescents. I just love them. 
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Today I spoke with two big groups of secondary school students about managing anxiety. In each talk, as there are in all of my talks with teens, there were questions. Big, open-hearted, thoughtful questions that go right to the heart of it all. 
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Some of the questions they asked were:
- What can I do to help my friend who is feeling big anxiety?
- What can I do to help an adult who has anxiety?
- How can I start the conversation about anxiety with my parents?

Our teens have big, beautiful, open hearts. They won’t always show us that, but they do. They want to be there for their friends and for the adults in their lives. They want to be able to come to us and talk about the things that matter, but sometimes they don’t know how to start. They want to step up and be there for their important people, including their parents, but sometimes they don’t know how. They want to be connected to us, but they don’t want to be controlled, or trapped in conversations that won’t end once they begin. 

Our teens need to know that the way to us is open. The more they can feel their important adults holding on to them - not controlling them - the better. Let them know you won’t cramp them, or intrude, or ask too many questions they don’t want you to ask. Let them know that when they want the conversation to stop, it will stop. But above all else, let them know you’re there. Tell them they don’t need to have all the words. They don’t need to have any words at all. Tell them that if they let you know they want to chat, you can handle anything that comes from there - even if it’s silence, or messy words, or big feelings - you can handle all of it. Our teens are extraordinary and they need us during adolescence more than ever, but this will have to be more on their terms for a while.  They love you and they need you. They won’t always show it, but I promise you, they do.♥️
Sometimes silence means 'I don't have anything to say.' Sometimes it means, 'I have plenty to say but I don't want to share it right here and right now.' We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety are thoughtful, observant and insightful, and their wisdom will always have the potential to add something important to the world for all of us.

 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
Rather than talking to them about what they can’t do (and they’ll probably want to talk about this a lot - that’s what anxiety does), ask them what they can do. It doesn’t matter how small the step is, as long as it’s forward.
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The idea is to gradually and gently expose them to the things that feel frightening. This is the only way to re-teach the amygdala that it’s safe. Let them know you understand it feels scary - they need to know you feel what they feel and that you get it. This will make your belief in them and your refusal to support avoidance more meaningful. Then move them towards brave.
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This can be tough. To move our children towards the things that are causing them distress pushes fiercely against our instincts as a parent - but - supporting avoidance, overprotecting, over-reassuring, the things we do that unintentionally accommodate anxiety over brave behaviour will only feed anxiety and make it more resistant to change. (And as a parent I’ve done all of these things at some time - we’re parents, not perfect, and parental love has a way of drawing us all in to unhelpful behaviours in the name of protecting our kiddos). .
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The point is, moving our children towards brave behaviour can feel awful, but it’s so important. When they focus on the fear and what they can’t do, try, ‘Okay, I know this feels scary. I really do. I also know you can do this. I understand this step feels too big, so what little step can you take towards it? What can you do that is braver than last time?’

 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
We can’t decide the lessons our children learn and we can’t decide when they learn them, but we can create the space that invites the discovery. We can do this by making it safe for them to speak, and to wander around their own experiences so the lessons and wisdom can emerge.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #adolescence

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