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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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Published on November 18, 2019

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

Critical thinking is the art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action. It can be learned through powerful techniques listed in this article.

Before you read further, it is important for you to know that critical thinking is a state of mind, not a tool or strategy.

If you are bogged down in the trivial day to day matters of your professional and personal life, learning skills to develop your ability to think critically can help you rise above these issues and focus your energies where they are needed – to solve problems and accomplish objectives.

It stands to reason that the better the learning techniques, the better critical thinking and reasoning will be. My experience in helping people grow means I know exactly what is needed to teach critical thinking (hint: it’s not just pondering over the problem).

There are 5 powerful techniques that form the base of critical thinking:

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Communication
  3. Creativity
  4. Open-mindedness
  5. Problem-solving

Once you learn the techniques listed and start employing them in your daily life, you’ll quickly start to notice a change in the way you approach problems and consequently, how you resolve them too.

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1. Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is the gathering and breaking down of information into small bites that help make sense of it.

To use it for critical thinking:

  • Be very clear on why you need the information. This is to recognize your limitations and employ foresight to overcome them.
  • Gather information from as many sources as you can: peers and experts, podcasts, relevant literature and any other place you can think of.
  • Rephrase questions multiple times to get different perspectives on data available and possibly arrive at different solutions.
  • Break down the data into factual subsets and relate each to the issue at hand.
  • Think on paper to make new connections. Write, doodle, make mind-maps or use spreadsheets. Data presented visually can help you make new connections make sense of emerging patterns.
  • Tidy up the workplace. Once data has been gathered, your workspace and your brain will both be cluttered with excess information. Neaten the physical space and clear your mind with meditation. The change in focus will help you view the information in a new light, potentially helping you reach newer, better conclusions.

Want more information and tips on adopting this powerful technique? What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success has all the information you need.

2. Communication

Communication is a key technique for critical thinking as it gives you access to the thoughts of people around you.

Data can be communicated through audio and visual means and in many cases, through careful observation of body language:

  • Ask for different points of view and seek justification for the same thing. When you invest in the matter, you will be able to explore all options to reach the best solution.
  • Listening without interrupting and only asking questions or voicing concerns once the speaker is done helps you make better connections.
  • Be 100% focused on a verbal or written discussion, you can better hear/read the opinions of the people involved.
  • Paraphrase the speaker/writer’s point of view and ask for affirmation. This enables you to pay full attention and use the input to think critically.
  • In a meeting, subtle communication cues are given by the body language of fellow attendees. An imperceptible frown, a small nod, pencil tapping etc. will all give you clues to what they are really thinking, just in case their actions are not in sync with their words!
  • Active observation, where you are watching and listening intently helps you know what to make of the information that is being passed around. It gives you clues to the general opinion about the topic under discussion and opens up new possibilities.

The information you gather through such communication will be invaluable in thinking critically to arrive at a decision that is holistic and unbiased.

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3. Creativity

Critical thinking is an art, and like any art form, its lifeblood is creativity. To really learn critical thinking, you need to include elements of creativity in the process!

  • Brainstorm with your team in an all-new location or work-shadow an industry expert to step out of your comfort zone. You could be surprised by the ideas that flow at a picnic or a game of billiards!
  • Gather data and tabulate it in the form of colorful, eye-catching charts, graphs and mind maps. The simple exercise makes your mind bring data together in different ways and presents them so multiple unique conclusions can be reached, giving you the flexibility to choose the best one.
  • Play brain games such as Sudoku or chess to appreciate how different factors can be manipulated to reach a preferred outcome. These games help make connections between previously disconnected nerves, giving your brain the power to find multiple pathways to answering problems.
  • In a similar vein, you can forge new neural connections by learning a new skill, a new language or even a new recipe!

I break down creativity in my other article What is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It. If you want to be good at critical thinking, you need to adopt creativity!

4. Open-Mindedness

It’s easy to say you’re open minded but is your mind really open?

To get an idea,

  • Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact the matter at hand.
  • Hear an opinion that conflicts with your own without forming a response before the opinion is fully voiced.
  • Acknowledge that there may be more than one approach to solving a problem and that they may all be right in some way.
  • Consider your true feelings when you will implement any required changes.
  • Disregard your long-held beliefs and assumptions and let go of habits.
  • Imagine the decision-making factors placed on weighing scales. Are they balanced?

Open-mindedness is a powerful technique for critical thinking. New possibilities can be uncovered, helping you resolve personal and professional matters in a manner that doesn’t frustrate you or alienate the other party.

5. Problem-Solving

Critical thinking is heavily dependent on problem-solving. An effective critical thinker will be a problem solver with the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and negative outcomes, and the experience and presence of mind to resolve them quickly and move on.

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One of the most effective problem-solving methodologies is the 5 Whys Analysis. Invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motors in the 1950s, it has been used successfully by the automobile giant to get to the root cause of problems.

The idea behind this is simple: start with the end problem and keep asking why until you get to the root cause of it.

The general idea is that asking why 5 times from the effect is enough to get to the cause, hence the name. However, the methodology does not limit the questions to 5, and why can be asked as many times as need to peel away the layers until a satisfactory answer is reached.

To use the 5 Whys Analysis, start off by listing the problem and writing why in front of it. The next point in the list should be answer to the first why with another why in front of it. Continue answering the question asked above followed by a why until you’ve asked the question 5 times and answered it six times. 99% of the time, the last answer will be the root cause of the problem stated in the first point.

For example, consider the a commonly given scenario where a vehicle does not start.

  1. Vehicle will not start. Why?
  2. Battery is dead. Why?
  3. The alternator is not functioning. Why?
  4. The alternator belt has broken. Why?
  5. It was old and worn out. Why?
  6. The car is not maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

By this example, it is clearly demonstrated that 5 whys were asked to reach the root cause of the problem.

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The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

Over the years, the 5 Whys Analysis has been adopted by millions to reach the root cause of their personal and professional problems. Industry giant Six Sigma has also incorporated the 5x Why Analysis in the Analyze phase of their DMAIC methodology.[1]

Final Thoughts

Is critical thinking a new-fangled notion? Not at all. Its history can be traced back to Socrates who questioned commonly held beliefs. This practice was carried forward by leading scholars and thinkers from different times such as Aristotle and Plato, Colet and Moore, Descartes, Galileo and Newton.[2]

Today’s world is dependent on critical thinking to resolve all sorts of issues. It is now indispensable for issues ranging from personal relationships to professional jobs and those involving the global community.

The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly, they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

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Featured photo credit: Mariya Pampova via unsplash.com

Reference

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