What are you choosing to feed your mind?
We have considerable choice over what we feed our minds, even when being stretched thin by stressful events like facing the ER as a provider, caring for a chronically ill partner, or living with extreme loneliness. The stress of being a parent to (or teaching) young children, or of being a 20-something without the ability to see where one is supposed to step next can feel all-consuming and fill our minds with noisy confusion.
In fact, what we feed our minds, literally and figuratively, can allow us to self-sooth and quiet that noise down to a manageable level. It is one of the most powerful things each of us can do, on a daily basis, to reframe our experience.
With a bit of forethought and practice, it can become habit to feel more engaged and curious and less annoyed and fearful.
Here are specific, easy tips to nourish a healthy mind this week...
Cut the sugar, increase Omega3 and eat curry. Studies indicate that dietary sugar impairs neural plasticity. Resilience requires plasticity and increased neural connection, so consciously decreasing added dietary sugar is slow medicine that matters. Fatty fish, on the other hand, as been shown to add to cognitive function. Turmeric is easy to add to eggs and popcorn, as well as curry, and has been shown to reduce neurodegeneration. Food is medicine. Memorize that, please.
Commit to a mindfulness practice. Give your mind a vacation by allowing the thought cycling to slow down, lighten, slip away. A mindfulness practice might include sitting on a cushion, but there are many other ways - hand-on-belly-three-breaths (exhale longer than inhale), sitting quietly and focusing your attention on three sounds, or inviting me to lead you through a short body scan.
Remember that your mind will go in the direction you point it. Notice where you are pointing your mind and then consciously shift unhelpful patterns, realizing that where our minds "go" is often habit rather than an expression of reality. Anxious about things you can't control? Consciously shift your mind to focus on three things you can control and exercise the muscles to stay with those thoughts, rather than reverting back to habit. Feeling overwhelmed with tasks? Consciously identify three times during the day when you "own" your time - and get creative. Close the bathroom door, get up 10 minutes earlier, take 6 breaths as you fill your coffee cup. And then notice that as the habit builds that you become more aware of expanded options.
What we feed our minds is a choice. Not an easy choice, but a healthy one that gets easier as it becomes habit.
Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.