Ever ask yourself, where did my life go? Who actually wakes up in the morning and says,today is the day I forget about my wishes and my desires? Often times this happens so slowly, so covertly over time that we had no idea that it even happened. It’s entirely possible we lose our sense of self because we get so caught up living the routine of life. We become numb to our senses and our environments and end up engaging a in a life that doesn't truly align to our core sense of self. Don’t let this go on for too long or we risk getting stuck in cycles of anxiety and depression.
Good news, all is not lost. To strengthen our sense of self it just takes a tiny bit of shifting. Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of your thoughts feelings and physical sensations in the present moment without judgment. Mindful Awareness is engaging our inner detective, curiously looking for clues on how we became robbed of our sense of self. Just like any detective, we investigate (this is a left brain activity). We don’t judge the data collected as good or bad but we take a look at the big picture it creates to solve the crime with curiosity (this is a right brain activity).
As you begin your own curious investigation into your sense of self take a look at your CANES (#WELLNESS)
C-Connections: Our brain is a social organ. If you don’t believe me think about it this way, it is the only organ that studies itself. Our brain actually seeks out other brains to learn and grow. We need connections to grow our own neural connections. The more connections we have physically, socially, and emotionally the more connections we have in our brain. The key to a healthy sense of self is to engage whole brain connectivity through taking healthy risks,and trying new experiences with curiosity.
A-Activity: Our bodies are meant to be moving. Movement is essential to survival. For thousands of years our bodies hunted and gathered food, farmed, built homes out of sticks and stones. In 2018 we could probably survive with only a smartphone in hand but this doesn’t replace our desires to be productive and moving. Ask yourself, How do I spend my day? How am I moving? When you move your body your brain moves too. We don’t have to go out and run a marathon but we do need to take a walk, work with our hands, engage our bodies in a way they were designed to be utilized.
N-Nutrition: Our Brain is mostly made of water, healthy fats and proteins. NOT sugar! Did you know that sugar affects the same part of the brain as cocaine. While sugar is tasty it has a huge affect on our brain and energy levels. Sugar is hidden everywhere in cereal, bread, snacks, lunch meats and “healthy” juices. When we have had too much sugar our brain goes through a rapid cycle of energy, crash and crave. Ever experienced mood swings? This could be from sugar. Make a sugar swap for a piece of fruit like a green apple or a serving of blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. Fruit has natural sugars that our brains and bodies can use more efficiently. You would never put anything but gas in your car so make sure you are consuming the right fuel sources for your brain and body.
E-Environment: Remember that first day of Junior High walking into the building all by ourselves because we were way too cool to have our parents escort us to our first day of class. Remember how bright our eyes were trying to find a spark of familiarness in this new environment. Our hearts raced, our breathing became more labored and somehow were able to play it cool when walked into the wrong class. Now take that moment and imagine if you felt that way every day? There are two thing we need when it comes to a health sense of self in an environment. We want choices to figure out what is best for us. And we want to have an orientation to that space, knowing where we fit in, who we can talk too, where is it safe to go. Choices and Orientation helps us feel we are in control and with more control comes a stronger sense of self.
S-Sleep: Healthy sleep is 8 hours of continuous sleep, this is about 4 complete REM cycles. When we cycle through REM sleep our brain goes through a natural healing process. Neurochemicals that are responsible for mood regulation like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, that were used for the previous day are replenished. When we sleep out brain also goes through a process called hippocampal discharge where it organizes our memories and puts them in the right place for storage. Without enough healthy sleep these process gets interrupted and leave us feeling less than our best. The good news is that we only need to get 1 night of healthy sleep for every 4. So don’t sweat it if you miss a night or 2.
Bring back control to your life by starting with these basic elements of everyday life. They are so easy to overlook but can make a huge difference in our overall brain health and wellness. Have fun as you start to take a peek at your CANES. Life is full of surprises so it is natural for these 5 key areas to move up and down. Even if you don’t feel ready to take small action (default/avoidance patterns) just simply thinking of ways to bring back balance can improve our sense of self (approach patterns).