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22 Tips to Help You Lead the Healthy Lifestyle Your Body Deserves

22 Tips to Help You Lead the Healthy Lifestyle Your Body Deserves

Do you dream of living the healthy lifestyle after you see a picture of a fit person on social media?

What you may not know is that it isn’t as hard as you think to live a healthy lifestyle if you know what to do.

You will find 22 practical tips in this article that will help you to live the healthy lifestyle you want!

1. Drink more water

This is obvious but really is the basics,

According to research: you should drink 3.01 L per day as a male and 2.21 L per day as a female.[1] This exact number should be taken as lightly as some people may need more due to the amount of water loss through activity, ambient temperature, and other factors.

Your body consists of around 60% of water. This alone proves the importance of hydration throughout the day.

Try consuming at least 0.5 L right when you wake up to live a healthy lifestyle because at this point your body is dehydrated. Then strategically plan to drink enough throughout the rest of the day with timers or an app to help you drink more water.

Another tip: take a bottle full of water with you everywhere you go to make it easier to live the healthy lifestyle.

2. Wash your hands

We all know that it’s good to wash your hands after going to the toilet, before eating, etc but only 12% of the people wash their hands before eating![2]

You are probably not one of them!

Washing your hands is critical on the following occasions:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using the toilet
  • After touching anything dirty (animals, garbage, sick people)

Here’re some simple steps you may have missed when you wash your hands:

    The benefits of washing your hands are:

    • Preventing infections in the eyes
    • Lowering the chance of diarrhea and intestinal problems
    • Fewer bacteria = less chance on any infection or illness

    3. Floss your teeth

    Flossing helps remove food debris and bacteria where the brush can’t get to. This prevents bacteria from turning your teeth into a yellow canary which eventually leads to damaged teeth over time.

    We all know you should brush your teeth twice a day but how many times should we floss a day?

    According to the Water Tower Dental Care team, flossing once a day is more than enough to keep away these bacteria as they form a plague after 24 hours.[3]

    4. Create a healthy sleep routine for yourself

    There are so many successful people who live off of 3 – 5 hours of sleep per night;[4] but Mariah Carey says she needs 15 hours of sleep a day.[5]

    Now the question is: “How much sleep do you need?”

    Nobody knows, so you should experiment with it. Plan your sleep and record how you feel after waking up. Find your sweet spot.

    You don’t even have to follow a monophasic sleep schedule (known as sleeping in 1 go). You could try polyphasic sleeping schedules like the Uberman Sleep Cycle or simply have a siesta (1 – 1,5 hours of sleep) in the afternoon.

    Start the experiment now!

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    5. Track one full day of eating

    Tracking your intake of food for only one day can change everything. Using an app like MyFitnessPal shows what you ate and all the calories and nutrients of those foods.

    One rule: track literally everything.

    When you have tracked a typical day of eating; you will see what you usually eat, even the cookies you sneaked in at night.

    Awareness of the fact of what you’re eating can subconsciously change your unhealthy eating habits into healthy eating habits.

    The next time you crave a chocolate bar the option of eating a piece of fruit is going through your mind.

    You will train your healthy lifestyle discipline reserve the more you choose something to support your healthy lifestyle over something unhealthy.

    The next time you crave an unhealthy meal; eat a healthy snack instead and see how you feel about yourself:

    15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

    6. Make exercise fun

    Exercising shouldn’t feel like an obligation; it should be fun!

    You could make exercise a part of your daily routine by applying simple tweaks to your life:

    • Walk to work instead of commuting (don’t come into work late though!)
    • Instead of watching TV, walk the dog or take a walk with a loved one.
    • Use a standing/treadmill desk instead of a regular desk.

    Note: Consult a professional coach or doctor if you want to train like a hardcore athlete.

    7. Sit less

    Sitting time increases the chances of dying. In a study; they found that people who sit more (inactive) have a higher chance of dying than people who sit less (active).[6]

    If you exercise but sit a lot, you’re still unhealthy.

    So get off that chair and move around. Set a timer for 25 minutes and make sure you walk around for 5 minutes.

    It’s simple; minimize the time you spend sitting. Here’s how:

    The Simplest Way to Make You Sit Less

    8. Weigh yourself daily

    The same principle of tracking your daily food intake applies here.

    Weigh yourself between every 1-7 days consistently at the same time (preferably right after you wake up). And write it down on a piece of paper.

    Research proves that weighing yourself daily can actually prevent weight gain and increase fat loss.[7]

    Don’t hate yourself for it; be aware of it and change where you can.

    9. Plan and prepare your healthy meals

    Planning your meals forward takes away the unhealthy snacks you eat in between and the amount of effort it takes to decide what to eat.

    There are many benefits to planning your meals:

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    • Saves time and money
    • Helps avoid unhealthy choices
    • Makes shopping easier

    There are a lot of apps that can help plan your meals. Healthy meal planning includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks throughout the day.

    Preparing your food all at once saves time over the course of the week. Choose one day (most people do it on Sunday) in the week to invest a couple hours in preparing your meals for the week.

    Here’re some inspirations for healthy meals:

    40 Healthy And Really Delicious Meals You Can Make Under $5

    10. Get more vitamin N(ature)

    Another great principle to include in your life to lead the healthy lifestyle your body deserves is to stay as close to nature as possible.

    This means eating less processed foods, more organic foods, more plants and nuts.

    Aim for eating more fruits, nuts and vegetables instead of cheese, cereals, bacon, etc.

    You should also make sure you spend more time in nature. This way you’ll get more vitamin D in because of the sunlight.

    11. Love yourself

    There’s a close relationship between mental health and physical health.[8] So, loving yourself more by talking positively to yourself or having more love in your life increases mental and physical health.

    Another fascinating part of our nature is that we can make our bodies heal wounds.[9] How? The simple answer: oxytocin.

    Touching yourself releases oxytocin; just place your hands on your belly or anywhere you feel like.

    Or call your mom. I mean it; hearing the voice of a loved one also releases oxytocin.[10]

    12. Lower sugar and sodium intake

    We consume 82 grams of added sugar[11] and 3.4 grams of sodium (salt = sodium x 2.5) per day.[12] This is far above the recommended intake, which is:

    • Max. 25 grams of added sugar for women and 38 grams of added sugar for men.[13]
    • Max. 1.5 grams of sodium per day.

    The added sugars and sodium are mostly found in processed foods like bread, pizza, chocolate and soda drinks.

    Before you consume the next thing, check the labels first. Look for the amount of sugar and sodium that’s in it. If you’re really serious about it; you can even decide to track it.

    The benefits of consuming less sugar and sodium are:

    • Decreasing the chance of getting diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and heart diseases.[14]
    • Preventing spikes in your blood pressure.
    • Preventing the build-up of resistance to insulin.

    13. Stop unhealthy habits

    Smoking, drinking alcohol or eating a lot of snacks at night. We all know that these are unhealthy habits but we’ve all been there.

    The most important thing here is getting rid of the unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy habits.

    The change is relatively simple; it can be done in 2 simple steps:

    1. First; you need to identify why you take part in the unhealthy habit. You need to find the trigger/cue which leads to the action. The reason why you crave smoking could be because you have the need to have a way of socializing; which in this case could be smoking.
    2. Now you can think of other ways to fulfill your needs. So, keep the same trigger/cue (= a need for social stimulation) and the same reward (= social interaction). The only thing you need to change is the routine (=smoking). You could turn this in grabbing coffee with a colleague or friend. This way you still get the social stimulation, but you improved and created a healthier habit.

      14. Regular health checkups

      People assume when they are feeling alright that they are living a healthy lifestyle. But this isn’t always the case. Having everything in perfect balance is hard.

      Checking your blood for specific diseases is never harmful. You might feel a little bit drained (literally) afterward, but at least you get to know how your health is looking.

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      Checking your blood every 6 months could be enough to discover some deficiencies and potential dangers. Some companies offer advanced blood tests which creates an overview of the areas you could improve in.

      Besides doing a blood test, there are also many other health-related tests you could do.

      15. Build healthy relationships

      “The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.” – Dan Buettner

      If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you should not spend most of your time with people who don’t live the healthy lifestyle.

      The solution is simple but not easy:

      Decrease the amount of time you spend with people who have unhealthy habits and increase the amount of time you spend with people who have healthy habits.

      If you don’t have a lot of friends with healthy habits, search for people who do. Search in communities where healthy habits are a focus like vegan or vegetarian people; Facebook groups focused around the subject; bloggers in the health industry or hire a health coach and become a knowledge sponge (absorbing all the information the person provides).

      There’re toxic people who you need to get rid of, and sometimes, you may need to do friendships decluttering.

      16. Increase your energy

      There are a lot of ways to increase your energy but the best change you can make is to live a healthy lifestyle that delivers sustainable energy levels throughout the day.

      It is important to watch which type of carbohydrate you are consuming. There are basically three main categories:

      • Simple carbohydrates (A.K.A. sugar) which give you an energy boost short-term.
      • Complex carbohydrates like whole grains; peas and beans. These can be divided into refined (processed) and unrefined (unprocessed) carbs. Unrefined is the healthy lifestyle choice as they still contain the complex carbohydrates.
      • Fibers found in most vegetables helps with digestion.

      Focusing on unrefined complex carbohydrates will result in sustainable energy levels throughout the day. Include a lot of vegetables and healthy sources of protein, and you are good to go.

      Besides having to deal with our physical energy; sometimes it comes down to mental energy. Check out this article on how to boost mental energy:

      15 Ways to Boost Mental Energy Levels

      17. Don’t skip breakfast

      A lot of people say that breakfast is the most important meal of all the meals. This is mainly because eating a high-protein,[15] and high-fiber[16] meal right after waking up is associated with fat loss.

      The benefits of having a healthy breakfast are:

      • Increased fat loss
      • Improved concentration and performance
      • More strength and endurance
      • Lower cholesterol levels

      Some breakfast inspirations for you to stay energetic throughout the day:

      31 Healthy Breakfast Recipes That Will Super Boost Your Energy

      18. Increase fiber intake

      The main benefits of fiber are:

      • Helps you on the toilet and decreases the chances of constipation[17]
      • Lowering the cholesterol levels
      • Helps control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption[18]
      • Increases fat loss (see healthy lifestyle tip 16)

      Fiber can be found in

      • Oats
      • Beans
      • Vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli
      • Carrots

      Find out more foods which are rich in fiber here:

      20 Ultimate High Fiber Foods To Add To Your Meal Plan

      19. Choose meals in reverse order

      People usually tend to choose a meal in the order of 1. Carbohydrates, 2. Protein and 3. Vegetables.

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      Doing this the other way around makes sure you put more veggies on your plate and fewer carbs. Make sure you fill half of your plate with vegetables and feel the benefits such as:

      • Reducing the risk of heart disease including heart strokes and attacks
      • Protection against certain types of cancers[19]
      • Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes

      Try it next time you put a meal together!

      20. Explore new hobbies

      “Happy people are 35 percent more likely to outlive unhappy people.” – Andrew Steptoe and Jane Wardle

      Being happy can mean something different for each individual. What is certain though is that enjoying your time while you can undoubtedly lead to happiness.

      Try out new hobbies and explore your options. There are so many things you can try out; you can even make a challenge to try out as much as possible.

      Find inspirations of hobbies you can try here:

      This List of 50 Low-cost Hobbies Will Excite You

      Or if you’re still wondering what to try, this can help you:

      How to Find One That Fits Your Personality

      21. Cheat day!

      Many people associate cheat day with people who are too weak to maintain their healthy lifestyle diet.

      One of the reasons to implement a cheat day in your diet is solely based on the improvement of your mood and motivation to keep going with the diet.

      Stick to a healthy lifestyle diet 6 days a week and choose 1 cheat day (usually a day on the weekend).

      You will be tempted throughout the week but here’s the solution; write everything down you are tempted by.

      If you feel like eating Oreo’s on Tuesday but Saturday is your cheat day; write it down so you can buy it on your cheat day and eat yourself to death (not literally).

      There are a couple of rules if you want to turn this into a healthy habit:

      1. Minimize the insulin spike by ensuring that your first meal (total should be 300-500 calories) of the day is not a cheat meal but a high-protein (at least 30 grams) and high-fiber meal. Before the second meal (which can be a cheat meal) you should consume a small amount of fructose like grapefruit juice. You should also supplement with Policosanol, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Green Tea Extract and Garlic (PAGG). And consume citric juices throughout the day in the form of lemon juice in water or food or any other way.
      2. Increase the digestion speed by consuming caffeine and a combination of theobromine (found in dark chocolate) and theophylline (found in green tea).
      3. Last but not least, contract your muscles briefly throughout the day. It’s weird but doing exercises like air squats, wall presses and chest pulls (with bands) for 60-90 seconds a few minutes before eating and 90 minutes after eating transfers glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) to the surface of muscle cells which causes calories to be absorbed by the muscles instead of transformed into fat.

      Make sure you follow these rules on your cheat day, and you will not have the feel guilty about it!

      22. Lose fat

      The last tip to lead the healthy lifestyle you want is about fat loss. The number of obese and overweight people worldwide is increasing.[20] This means that more and more people need simple principles to follow to lose fat.

      Here are the basic principles of fat loss:

      1. Avoid white carbohydrates like all bread, rice (also brown rice), cereal, potatoes, pasta tortillas and fried food with breading. Avoid white carbohydrates and you’re good to go.
      2. You should also avoid eating all fruits except for avocado and tomato (except for after 30 minutes of finishing a resistance-training workout, this also counts for white carbohydrates).
      3. Eat the same meals over and over again, this makes it easier to sustain the diet. Create 3-4 go to meals and stick with them. Choose per meal one main protein source (egg whites with whole eggs, chicken breast, beef, fish, pork or any vegan replacement), legumes (lentils or black/red/borlotti/soya beans) and vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.).
      4. Don’t drink your calories. Instead; drink water and red wine (max. 2 glasses per day).
      5. Take one day off the diet. Have a cheat day! See tip 20 for information on how to implement a cheat day in your diet.

      Before you leave, there’s something else…

      Before you move on to read the next article to live the healthy lifestyle your body deserves you should commit to applying at least 1 tip of the 21 tips above to see how you feel about living the healthy lifestyle.

      If you like it, apply more of the tips to your life.

      To conclude this article; here are some other recommendations to live the healthy lifestyle your body deserves:

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

      [1] EJCN: Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration
      [2] Mail Online: Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating – despite them being more unhygienic than a park bench or escalator rail
      [3] Water Tower Dental Care: Can You Floss Too Much?
      [4] Business Insider: 19 Successful People Who Barely Sleep
      [5] Business Insider: Bizarre sleeping habits of successful people
      [6] Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA; and Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA: Sitting Time and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer
      [7] Jennifer A. Linde, Robert W. JefferySimone A. FrenchNicolaas P. PronkRaymond G. Boyle: Self-weighing in weight gain prevention and weight loss trials
      [8] Julius Ohrnbergera, Eleonora Ficherab, Matt Suttona: The relationship between physical and mental health: A mediation analysis
      [9] NCBI: Marital behavior, oxytocin, vasopressin, and wound healing.
      [10] The Royal Society: Social vocalizations can release oxytocin in humans
      [11] Sugar Science: How Much Is Too Much?
      [12] Medical News Today: Everyone needs salt for fluid balance and muscle and nerve function. But too much salt is bad for us, we hear. So how much do we need?
      [13] American Heart Association: Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health
      [14] Health Line: Top 9 Reasons to Avoid Sugar
      [15] Taylor & Francis Online: The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review
      [16] Joanne L. Slavin Ph.D., R.D.: Dietary Fiber and Body Weight
      [17] D.P Burkitt, A.R.P Walker, N.S Painter: Effect of dietary fibre on stools and transit-times, and its role in the causation of disease
      [18] the bmj: Dietary fibres, fibre analogues, and glucose tolerance: importance of viscosity.
      [19] The Journal of Nutrition: Phytochemicals from Cruciferous Plants Protect against Cancer by Modulating Carcinogen Metabolism
      [20] The Lancet: Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013

      More by this author

      Marnix Buijs

      Marnix is a health and fitness blogger. While he walks his own journey, he shares his experiences and knowledge to help others.

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      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

      I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

      1. The Inner Critic

      This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

      • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

      The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

      Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

      2. The Worrier

      This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

      The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

      3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

      This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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      This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

      The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

      4. The Sleep Depriver

      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

      The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

      How can you control these squatters?

      How to Master Your Mind

      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

      This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

      For the Inner Critic

      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

      You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

      • They rile up the Worrier.
      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
      • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
      • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
      • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

      Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

      For the Worrier

      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
      • Muscles tense

      Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

      Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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      For example:

      If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

      For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

      • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
      • Muscles tension

      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

      Breathe in through your nose:

      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
      • Focus on your belly rising.

      Breathe out through your nose:

      • Feel your lungs emptying.
      • Focus on your belly falling.
      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

      Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

      For the Sleep Depriver

      (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
      2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

      From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
      • Shut down your thinking.
      • Calm your feelings.
      • Simply focus on the present moment. 

      The Bottom Line

      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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