Strength and Skills.
Can we think of the brain like we think of the body? In terms of strength, muscles and skills?
We think that's a useful- if not literal - way to think about health and wellbeing. For instance practising certain skills like mindfulness is a skill much like the skill of getting better at a sport. Bringing attention where you want it in mindfulness get easier with time so it's also like a muscle that gets stronger with time.
Exercise is one of the most powerful ways of preventing and treating depression. Exercise makes the mind strong just as it makes the body strong. Two weeks ago we discussed how attending to positive experiences is a skill that can be trained - and with practise we get better at it.
One way of thinking about depression is that it is a signal that happens when we are not stimulated mentally or not not active enough physically.
1. Exercise prevents depression;
2. Exercise gives you more energy
1. Any exercise is better than none. If it's going to be short make it intense. "Get breathless once a day"; 20 minutes of breathless activity is great.
2. Everyone is different. Walk, run, cycle, dance, yoga, home workout, weight training. Find the one that works for you. Build a habit by starting with a goal that is so small success is virtually guaranteed: build from there.
Emotional pain is like physical pain. It can be thought of as a signal that something is wrong. If we understand this we can tolerate it better and start to address the thing that is wrong - maybe we need more connection, or more sleep, or exercise. Or maybe we need to remove something that is causing us harm -like a toxic workplace, or toxic relationships.
There are different ways of thinking about depression. One way of thinking about depression is that it is a signal that happens when we are not stimulated mentally or not not active enough physically.
The Brain as a Muscle
The brain is like a muscle in many ways. If we practice using it it gets stronger.
If we read regularly concentration gets better
If we practice guiding attention in other ways, that ability gets better
If we practice using an opportunity mindset in the face of stress or adversity, or practice gratitude we will start to use those things more automatically.
In many ways you are what you do every day.
Skills only get better with practise. We practise skills when things are going well so that we can use them when things are hard.
Think of everyday life like training and when things get hard - that's the big event that you've been training for. Then when things are hard you can think of it like a challenge you've been preparing for. This is the opportunity mindset we have discussed before.