Advertising
Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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…

Advertising

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.”

Advertising

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

Trending in Brain

1 Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts 2 What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good) 3 What is Cognitive Dissonance (And How to Dodge it) 4 How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements) 5 How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 7, 2020

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

The Skinny on Mental Workouts

Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

1. Improved Memory

After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

3. Improved Work Performance

Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

Advertising

Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

1. Brainstorming

One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

2. Dancing

Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

3. Learning a New Language

Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

Advertising

4. Developing a Hobby

Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

For example:

  • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
  • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
  • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
  • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

5. Board Games

Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

6. Card Games

Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

Advertising

7. Puzzles

Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

8. Playing Music

Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

9. Meditating

Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
  • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
  • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
  • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
  • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

10. Deep Conversation

There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

Advertising

Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

11. Cooking

When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

12. Mentorship

Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

Final Thoughts

Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

More Tips for Training Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next