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The 10-Minute Daily “Lifestyle Trigger” That Relieves Anxiety and Depression

The 10-Minute Daily “Lifestyle Trigger” That Relieves Anxiety and Depression

I have 2 questions for you…

  1. Are you anxious or depressed?
  2. Do have a spare 10-20 minutes every day?

If the answer to these 2 questions is yes, then read on! I’m going to explain an exciting and simple new take on anxiety and depression relief, and it only takes 10-20 minutes per day.

Anxiety and depression are nasty things, often making you feel like there is no hope. It can be a really tough time for anyone going through this mental anguish.

This article is not about how tough it is, but what can you do next. What is the quickest and easiest way to start relieving your symptoms independently and naturally?

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To understand why this technique (I call it a “Lifestyle Trigger”) is so effective, you must first understand what the physical problem is that causes your symptoms.

That’s right — depression and anxiety is a physical problem. Sure, the issue can start with negative thoughts and thought cycles, but the actual symptoms of anxiety and depression are caused by a physical problem in your body.

The Physical Problem: “Imbalanced Hormone Harmony”

So, what is this physical problem?

Normally, there is an optimal balance between stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) and feel-good neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain responsible for mood and emotion) in the body. I call this balance your “Hormone Harmony,” as it helps to create serenity throughout the body.

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These nasty symptoms are created when your hormone harmony is out of balance. Stress hormones increase to a level that is unmanageable to the body. Feel-good neurotransmitters decrease and stop behaving properly. I call this an “Imbalanced Hormone Harmony.”

This is the reason traditional talking therapies are not enough when it comes to combating depression and anxiety, because the physical problem is not being fixed. I’m not putting those therapies down or saying you shouldn’t do them, but there are a few things you need to do alongside them to tackle depression and anxiety from all angles.

That’s where Lifestyle Triggers come in. They are basically small changes to certain aspects in your lifestyle that help to reverse the the damage done to your hormone harmony. The 10-20 minute daily lifestyle trigger I’m talking about is “Flexible Exercise.” This is an approach I have used to help lots of people with depression and anxiety at one of the UK’s leading mental health hospitals as the fitness coordinator.

Flexible Exercise

I’m sure you have heard exercise is good for mental health, but Flexible Exercise is something different and even more effective. Let me explain…

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The problem with using traditional exercise to relieve depression and anxiety is that it is a stress on the body. Normally, we can adapt to this stress and this adaptation increases our fitness. However, for someone with an imbalanced hormone harmony, their resting stress hormones are already elevated. This means the stress traditional exercise causes can actually overload the body and increase stress hormones further, therefore increasing your symptoms further. I call this creating a “Negative Exercise-Stress Axis” — you want to avoid this.

This is where Flexible Exercise comes in. So what’s the difference? It’s far shorter and flexible — about 10-20 minutes in length and can be timed with the negative cycle of your symptoms, therefore breaking the cycle. This is far better for rebalancing your hormone harmony.

Why?

A short burst of exercise doesn’t overload the body with stress hormones. Instead, it gives your body a chance to adapt to a much smaller amount of stress. This adaptation gradually empties the body of stress hormones, therefore reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. I call this creating a “Positive Exercise-Stress Axis.”

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I’m not saying if you’re having a panic attack or suddenly feeling really low you need to drop down and do some press ups. What I am saying is most people tend to have a daily pattern when their symptoms are worse. For example, you might tend to feel low in the mornings or anxious and stressed after work. This is when you can get into the routine of doing your short flexible exercise workout, to break the negative cycle. If you want to learn more, check out this article on Flexible Exercise.

Don’t Ignore Your Motivational Energy

If you’re suffering from depression and anxiety and the things I have said make sense, you probably have some “motivational energy.” This is how I explain that lightbulb moment when things make sense and you know what to do to get what you want or need. The problem is that when it comes to motivation, the lightbulb doesn’t stay on for long. So, what’s important is what you do right now to help commit yourself.

Think about when you could do your 10-20 minutes of flexible exercise each day then write it in your diary.

Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, always seek medical advice and talk to a doctor. These things are nothing to be ashamed of. If you found this useful, please like and share, as it might help someone else going through the same thing. We can beat depression and anxiety together.

More by this author

Ben Jones

Fitness Coordinator

We Feel Empty Because Our Bodies Aren’t Evolved to Cope With the Current Lifestyle How Not to Let Negative Thoughts Trump the Positive Vibes The 20-Minute Morning Routine That Relieves Anxiety The 10-Minute Daily “Lifestyle Trigger” That Relieves Anxiety and Depression 2 Major Flaws in Your Diet That Cause Stress and Anxiety

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

1. Performing Arts

One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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2. Visual Art

Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

3. Zone Out

If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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4. Practice Mindfulness

The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

Final Thoughts

So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

More Tips on Boosting Creativity

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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