January 3, 2018
Welcome to Part 3 of our Health Kickstart series. Read Part 1: Frame Your Day here, and Part 2: Speeding Up here.
This series is designed for people who want to get healthy… but just can’t seem to get any traction. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. So, the goal here is to give you a step by step plan to do just that. Each part of the series will provide you with a simple, easy action to take each day. Before long, if you stick with it, the steps within this plan will make a big impact on your long-term health.
Watch Part 4 Now!
Or, read more below…
Have you ever left work, gotten into your car, driven the whole way home, and then realized that you couldn’t remember even a single thing about the trip?
That happens to all of us periodically. But, some people go through their whole lives like that. Moment to moment, forgetting what’s happened even a few seconds, minutes, hours ago. Moving through time without really ever making a sincere connection with the world, others, or even their bodies.
We need to learn to slow down.
Because, not only does it increase our awareness of others, our surroundings, and what’s actually going on inside ourselves, slowing down is also necessary to reduce stress in our lives.
When we’re going and going, often we can’t even feel the stress… until, that is, it catches up to us. I have a good friend who works almost constantly. After a few days of chest pains, she went to the ER. She was diagnosed as being just a day away from a heart attack.
So, we need to slow down. If you left your cell phone on for a week straight without plugging it in, what’s going to happen? Same thing with your body. Without pausing to recharge often, we crash. And remember my friend from before?
Sometimes that crash can be potentially fatal.
Yoga and meditation are a great way to slow down, but if you’re just getting started with our Health Kickstart plan, that might be a little too much, too quickly.
Instead, choose one of the following and do it for five minutes each day this week.
1. Deep, Purposeful Breathing
Deep breathing is a great way to slow things down and recharge.
Give this a shot:
Exercise: The Body Breath
1. Take a big deep breath. Inhale and then hold it. Notice where your center of gravity is located. For most people, that center of gravity will be high up in the body, making you more top-heavy. We call this a “face breath,” and it’s great for keeping your balance out of whack.
- Now stand up straight, with your feet four inches apart and flat on the floor.
- Push your feet into the floor and squeeze up— squeeze your ankles, your calves, thighs. Pull your belly button IN and continue squeezing up— through your lower back, middle back, upper back. Your body will naturally inhale.
- When your lungs are full, pause. Be aware of what it feels like to be full of this life force. Be aware that taking this breath is the most important thing you will ever do.
- Now, reverse the sequence and squeeze down, focusing on each part of your body as you do, from your upper back down through your ankles and into the floor. Your body will naturally exhale.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom of your exhale, and notice how it feels not to breathe.
- Wash, rinse, repeat. As you concentrate on and become more aware of your breath—we’re talking habits here, after all!—your capacity for taking in and pushing out your breath will increase as you continue to build this into your daily routine.
2. Easy Meditation
Meditation tends to bring up images of a wizened old man sitting criss-cross-applesauce up on some mountain ledge somewhere. But it doesn’t have to be nearly that involved.
Find a quiet spot. Wear some comfortable clothes. Sit and close your eyes. Breathe deeply.
Now, sit with your thoughts. Observe them. Put space between them. Understand what they are, where they are going, and focus on recognizing that your thoughts are moving you to different places.
The more you practice this, the better you’ll get at it. You’ll begin to understand how your brain—and your thoughts— affect your body… and vice versa.
3. Intentional, Internal Awareness
We don’t like being alone with our thoughts, these days. Which is one of the reasons why we’ve created a culture of distraction. It’s easier to skim your Facebook feed than look inside and see what’s really going on.
Don’t get me wrong. No judgment. I’m guilty of this as well.
But cultivating an awareness of what’s going on inside us can be great for our health. What are you holding on to? Which thoughts do you not want to face? What are the tensions inside you causing you distress?
I’m not expecting you go super deep, super fast. Instead, just spend a few minutes with these questions. Relax and just listen to yourself.
We’re good at making things up. Our brains fill in a lot of gaps that our memory leaves out. Which means, it’s hard to get an accurate view of what your actual habits are if you don’t write them down as they’re happening.
That’s why journaling is so important. It gives you a very accurate view of what your “normal” behaviors are.
So, spend five minutes today and write down your thoughts. Or what you’ve eaten that day. Or even just a list of goals you have for yourself.
So, whichever of these tools you choose to use, the key is this: Spend five meaningful minutes a day on it. Health just doesn’t happen. It only happens when you’re intentional about chasing it down. It only happens when the good habits override the bad ones.
Health is just another word for the momentum that happens when these simple steps stop being something you think about and instead just sort of take over, moving you forward on your health journey.
We’re looking to build these habits with this Health Kickstart plan, and the way to do that is to take each part, start small, and build from there.
Listen to Part 3 Here: