Ringing in the New Year, it’s wonderful to think back on the amazing year we’ve had. Some ups, some downs, some more ups…let’s pause to focus on the ups. Let’s go to gratitude as we tie a bow on 2017: Grateful to be alive and well, grateful for the time to be with our loved ones, to hang out with our friends, and grateful for the many blessings bestowed on us. Good stuff! (image: fitnessandwellnessnews.com)
For some reason us humans can easily dwell on what’s gone wrong. Eager to close out the year with a sigh and look ahead to a fresh one – why is this? Why is it easy to drag up the negative and drag ourselves down?
I can’t say that I haven’t had ‘a case of the Mondays’ – however, whenever I’m feeling under the gun, worried or sub-par, I’m training my brain to focus on the good stuff. Yep, I go to gratitude. You could say this is my New Year’s fitness resolution.
Just like physical exercise is necessary to train the body for better fitness, paying attention to how we think, what we say and exercising a positive attitude has direct effect on our mental AND physical well-being. That mind-body connection is a real thing and works both ways.
A terrific little article from Psychology Today sums it up nicely:
“In the same way as the body affects the mind, however, the mind is capable of immense effects on the body. The literature has demonstrated again and again that thoughts affect neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that allow the brain to communicate with different parts of itself and the nervous system. Neurotransmitters control virtually all of the body’s functions, from feeling happy to modulating hormones to dealing with stress. Therefore, our thoughts influence our bodies directly because the body interprets the messages coming from the brain to prepare us for whatever is expected.”
Haven’t you heard someone repeatedly say “…I always seem to catch what’s going around…”, and lo-and-behold they catch the next flu bug? Or, have you caught yourself thinking “…I’m SO not looking forward to this day…” or “…I’m feeling so tired/bummed/depressed…”, and then “coincidentally” the day goes just as “planned”? It’s not a coincidence. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts and words can affect our bodies’ reactions – in a good way or to our detriment.
“For example, research shows that psychological stress affects our levels of catecholamines, which include the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These neurochemical changes prepare the body to deal with perceived danger in a number of important ways, such as raising blood pressure so as to allow faster speed and response time. However, chronic elevations in catecholamines suppress the immune system, and suppression of the immune system raises the risk of viral infection and other diseases.”
How do we put this mind-body fitness resolution into play?
What is that all-around squat or plank exercise for the brain that can jump the track of negativity and put us on a new track of optimism?
Go to gratitude.
Simple, effective and the best fitness habit to create in 2018!
At the first sign of feeling punky, down-hearted, bad – Stop – and recite three things that you’re grateful for. It’s truly amazing how quickly our outlook changes. How can we continue down the negative road when we’re zeroing in on why we’re grateful?
What’s more: “Resilient people actually resist illnesses, cope with adversity, and recover quicker because they are able to maintain a positive attitude and manage their stress effectively. By managing our attitudes and stress levels, we actually control neurochemical transmissions in the body. The power of a healthy attitude therefore cannot be underestimated in the body-mind connection.”
Looking back on 2017, I’m grateful that I’ve got the wherewithal to work, a home to live in, a husband and family who loves me, friends I can count on, two legs to dance and a passion for health and wellness for myself and others.
And for 2018? I’m going to add to this list!
What are you grateful for? Put these out in front and expect a fantastic New Year ahead!