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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Anxiety shows up to check that you’re okay, not to tell you that you’re not. It’s your brain’s way of saying, ‘Not sure - there might be some trouble here, but there might not be, but just in case you should be ready for it if it comes, which it might not – but just in case you’d better be ready to run or fight – but it might be totally fine.’ Brains can be so confusing sometimes! 

You have a brain that is strong, healthy and hardworking. It’s magnificent and it’s doing a brilliant job of doing exactly what brains are meant to do – keep you alive. 

Your brain is fabulous, but it needs you to be the boss. Here’s how. When you feel anxious, ask yourself two questions:

- ‘Do I feel like this because I’m in danger or because there’s something brave or important I need to do?’

- Then, ‘Is this a time for me to be safe (sometimes it might be) or is this a time for me to be brave?

And remember, you will always have ‘brave’ in you, and anxiety doesn’t change that a bit.♥️

#positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #parenting #childanxiety #heywarrior #heywarriorbook
The temptation to fix their big feelings can be seismic. Often this is connected to needing to ease our own discomfort at their discomfort, which is so very normal.

Big feelings in them are meant to raise (sometimes big) feelings in us. This is all a healthy part of the attachment system. It happens to mobilise us to respond to their distress, or to protect them if their distress is in response to danger.

Emotion is energy in motion. We don’t want to bury it, stop it, smother it, and we don’t need to fix it. What we need to do is make a safe passage for it to move through them. 

Think of emotion like a river. Our job is to hold the ground strong and steady at the banks so the river can move safely, without bursting the banks.

However hard that river is racing, they need to know we can be with the river (the emotion), be with them, and handle it. This might feel or look like you aren’t doing anything, but actually it’s everything.

The safety that comes from you being the strong, steady presence that can lovingly contain their big feelings will let the emotional energy move through them and bring the brain back to calm.

Eventually, when they have lots of experience of us doing this with them, they will learn to do it for themselves, but that will take time and experience. The experience happens every time you hold them steady through their feelings. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring big behaviour. For them, this can feel too much like bursting through the banks, which won’t feel safe. Sometimes you might need to recall the boundary and let them know where the edges are, while at the same time letting them see that you can handle the big of the feeling. Its about loving and leading all at once. ‘It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to use those words at me.’

Ultimately, big feelings are a call for support. Sometimes support looks like breathing and being with. Sometimes it looks like showing them you can hold the boundary, even when they feel like they’re about to burst through it. And if they’re using spicy words to get us to back off, it might look like respecting their need for space but staying in reaching distance, ‘Ok, I’m right here whenever you need.’♥️
We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety have magic in them, every one of them, but until they have a felt sense of safety, it will often stay hidden.

‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what they feel. At school, they might have the safest, most loving teacher in the safest, most loving school. This doesn’t mean they will feel enough relational safety straight away that will make it easier for them to do hard things. They can still do those hard things, but those things are going to feel bigger for a while. This is where they’ll need us and their other anchor adult to be patient, gentle, and persistent.

Children aren’t meant to feel safe with and take the lead from every adult. It’s not the adult’s role that makes the difference, but their relationship with the child.

Children are no different to us. Just because an adult tells them they’ll be okay, it doesn’t mean they’ll feel it or believe it. What they need is to be given time to actually experience the person as being safe, supportive and ready to catch them.

Relationship is key. The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains in our way. When we feel someone really caring about us, we’re more likely to open up to their influence
and learn from them.

But we have to be patient. Even for teachers with big hearts and who undertand the importance of attachment relationships, it can take time.

Any adult at school can play an important part in helping a child feel safe – as long as that adult is loving, warm, and willing to do the work to connect with that child. It might be the librarian, the counsellor, the office person, a teacher aide. It doesn’t matter who, as long as it is someone who can be available for that child at dropoff or when feelings get big during the day and do little check-ins along the way.

A teacher, or any important adult can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
There is a beautiful ‘everythingness’ in all of us. The key to living well is being able to live flexibly and more deliberately between our edges.

So often though, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ we inhale in childhood and as we grow, lead us to abandon some of those precious, needed parts of us. ‘Don’t be angry/ selfish/ shy/ rude. She’s not a maths person.’ ‘Don’t argue.’ Ugh.

Let’s make sure our children don’t cancel parts of themselves. They are everything, but not always all at once. They can be anxious and brave. Strong and soft. Angry and calm. Big and small. Generous and self-ish. Some things they will find hard, and they can do hard things. None of these are wrong ways to be. What trips us up is rigidity, and only ever responding from one side of who we can be.

We all have extremes or parts we favour. This is what makes up the beautiful, complex, individuality of us. We don’t need to change this, but the more we can open our children to the possibility in them, the more options they will have in responding to challenges, the everyday, people, and the world. 

We can do this by validating their ‘is’ without needing them to be different for a while in the moment, and also speaking to the other parts of them when we can. 

‘Yes maths is hard, and I know you can do hard things. How can I help?’

‘I can see how anxious you feel. That’s so okay. I also know you have brave in you.’

‘I love your ‘big’ and the way you make us laugh. You light up the room.’ And then at other times: ‘It can be hard being in a room with new people can’t it. It’s okay to be quiet. I could see you taking it all in.’

‘It’s okay to want space from people. Sometimes you just want your things and yourself for yourself, hey. I feel like that sometimes too. I love the way you know when you need this.’ And then at other times, ‘You looked like you loved being with your friends today. I loved watching you share.’

The are everything, but not all at once. Our job is to help them live flexibly and more deliberately between the full range of who they are and who they can be: anxious/brave; kind/self-ish; focussed inward/outward; angry/calm. This will take time, and there is no hurry.♥️

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