Creating a Mindset for Health
We know that in order to succeed in work, life and everything else, we need to be healthy. Without the foundation of health, everyday challenges are even more difficult. So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?
That thing is mindset. Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. We have control over our mindset and research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.
I love circling back to mindset when I or my clients fall off track. Our mindset is cultivated by our goals, intentions and emotional agility. It’s the answer to the question “Why?”. Understanding your “Why?” allows you to see possibility, support and purpose. It’s not only powerful for building general health, but particularly for creating a satisfying professional life. Whether you’re a part-time team member in an organization or someone with a prominent leadership role, adjusting your mindset can be the answer to the work rut you’ve been in.
Very interesting health mindset study
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study. Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers. What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active!
How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true? There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we’re less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.
Researchers don’t know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset. So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.
Health mindset strategy 1 – Aim for good enough
Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It’s inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn’t necessarily a great mindset to have (I know – I’ve been there). It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt – none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally – one step at a time. So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices?
A simple way to do this is to set small actionable goals. Yes, it would be great if we could all start going to the gym for an hour per day. If this is your goal, you’re better off trying to get to the gym for 30 minutes 3 days per week. Or, aim for 10,000 steps per day. Take the stairs. You get the idea. If you set smaller goals that you can actually achieve, you are more likely to turn them into habits that get you the results you want …and keep them!
Health mindset strategy 2 – Stop making trade-offs
When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a trade-off. You’re telling yourself that, as long as you’re good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend. And that’s not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. This is also known as a scarcity mindset (it stems from fear). You’re controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you’re trying to do well every single day. Your mindset has to match your actions. Otherwise, your brain will be in a never-ending game of tug-of-war with your body. You’re doing your best, and that’s good enough.
Want to adopt an abundance mindset instead? First off, you must drop your guard. Having an abundance mindset stems from confidence and security. It means that you’re open to trying new things and expect that there will be failure along the way, and this failure is GOOD. Looking at it this way means that you can appreciate the learning curves and eventually understand what works for you.
I don’t care how healthy you eat, how much you work out or how much you weigh. You’re not your healthiest until your mindset is healthy too. Mindset can be a powerful tool for better physical and emotional health. Nurturing a healthy mindset, however, will take some practice. It means being kind to yourself. Accept that you are flawed human being and use your motivation and goal setting to make incremental changes that lead to a healthy changes. These adjustments become habits that beget more positive changes. It’s simple but not necessarily easy. Especially if you’ve been making decisions out of fear rather than confidence. Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals and there’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.
Want to start with small changes that can impact your life in a big way? Here are a few ideas:
- Surround yourself with positive, healthy people (if they are not in your immediate circle, it’s time to get out there. Try Meetup.com, Facebook events etc.)
- Plan a free day outdoors once per week (plan a beach day, BBQ or a simple neighborhood walk)
- Prep healthy snacks for the work week – even if you miss a meal or make a bad choice, you’ll have healthy stuff to bring you back to your goals
- Pull out the crock pot and make a crock pot recipe while you cook tonight’s dinner. Now you have 2 choices for healthy lunches or dinners for the week! I love to cook once, eat twice.
- Replace processed foods/snacks with fruit, veggies, nuts and other whole foods – nothing like an apple with macadamia nuts for a hunger buster at 11am
- Drink water throughout day
- Meditate or sit quietly while you breath deeply for 5 minutes per day
- Read or Listen to self improvement or healthy lifestyle podcasts/books
- Drink a Green Juice every day!
How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below!
Recipe (Morning Mindset Refresher): Chia Lemon Water
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ lemon, sliced
Instructions: Add the chia seeds & lemon to your favorite water bottle. Fill to top with water. Shake before drinking. Enjoy!