It's a term that we understand, but may forget to apply to our own lives.
We are bombarded with so many distractions from our inner thoughts that we forget to listen to them.That's where deep breathing and meditation come in. Let's go over a simple way to relax your mind and some other tips on improving your focus on your life. Focusing solely on yourself every once and a while can help you achieve massive positive shifts in your life.
Things that will come to mind when focusing are:
- Relationships that need to be mended or removed from your life
- Career changes that have needed to happen, but lacked the power to do so
- The inner strength to achieve diet and fitness goals. You should read how to get results in the gym.
- Happiness and what it's going to take to achieve it. Simple as that, tuning out distractions can lead to happiness
Quick deep breathing exercise
Breathe in through your nose as you count to 3, hold it, then exhale as you count to 4. This is recommended for anyone, regardless of your stress levels.
Deep breathing can improve brain function. Shallow breathing, which is extremely common, can lead to weight gain and other negative effects. This is one of the first and most important steps to making your life more efficient. Once you start to relax your mind and body, thoughts may arise. As mentioned above, thoughts about your job, things you've been putting off at home, relationships that need to be worked on and more will appear easier to manage.
Focus on one thing at a time
Humans are generally bad at multitasking. We talk on the phone and forget where we're going or miss the turn. We halfway focus on someones conversation because our face is into our smartphones.
Focus! You should be able to.
Downfall of television
Focusing on one thing at a time sounds easy right? Well when you have the TV on with a talk show or "reality" show chatter in the background, it can be incredibly hard to focus on your own life. That's the point of television after all isn't it? Tuning out from the television will not only open your mind to new possibilities, but it may break down barriers of what you can accomplish in your own life. If you are constantly being reminded of the "amazing" things that celebrities are doing and are focusing on the nightly news, inputting only negative stories and life events into your brain, will not allow you to be efficient. It's in your best interest to carefully digest this material. Commercial radio could be in the same category. Basically I'm trying to convey that you can harness power from being aware of what sounds, sights and voices are input into your life.
Write it down
In an age where pen and paper are rarely used, it's fun and helpful to see your own thoughts on a real piece of paper with your own handwriting. It's much easier to add stars and boxes and other things online, but lacks a personal touch.
Update your list every time you have an important thought.
Having a to-do list on your phone is the easiest way to keep up with your life. Utilizing separate lists like "Work Tasks", "Blog", "Home", "Important" and others are the best way to stay focused. I wrote about the importance of a to-list here, and the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle.
Negativity can come from many places:
- Friends - If you have people in your life that bring you down, belittle you, or simply don't encourage you to better yourself, re-evaluate their purpose in your life (I would advise looking for new ones at the gym, festivals, health store, or networking.) Yes, making new friends can be uncomfortable, but you will never gain them if you don't try! Friends are essential and existed as part of your tribe in the Paleolithic times. Isolation is not healthy
- Family - Hopefully your family is a source of inspiration, praise and support, but that is not the reality for some. Attempting to mend previously-burnt bridges with loved ones can be an incredibly uncomfortable situation, but if healed, may give you the power to achieve anything. Support from family is the #1 essential to success.
- Co-Workers - Let's face it, you spend 160 hours a month with these people; you better love 'em! Co-workers can become a huge energy drain if they have power over you, don't put effort or passion into their job, or simply create a negative environment to be around. Constant complaining and negative attitudes towards life and you personally are just a couple of ways that these people can impact you. It's important to seek out positive co-workers if they exist, move away from the negative ones if possible, or practice the deep breathing exercise at work while sniffing some essential oils.
Negativity can also come from things and places that are much easier to tune out such as:
- Television - I write about television and it's negative effects all the time, even Yahoo covered the "brain fog" that you experience from watching TV. When's the last time you got up from watching television and were so inspired that you went outside, danced around with your loved ones and created something valuable?
- People - Beyond co-workers, family and friends, dealing with society can be stressful. We are all in a rush because where we're headed is so much more important than where they are, right? That's the typical thought pattern that I've seen among stressed people. Nevada was rated one of the most depressed states, as well as Kentucky. A lot of it has to deal with the environment and addictions presented in these two states, for example. Lifestyles usually observed in these states can be unhealthy.
- My advice when it comes to people is to overwhelm people with kindness. They will have no choice but to loosen up. Even though you may not receive kindness in return, being nice to others can at least satisfy your conscience. The golden rule works with time and effort.
The most important places to find and eradicate negativity are:
- Your own thoughts - The thoughts that surface from your own mind can be the biggest factor for negativity in your life. Let's face it, focusing on the external sources of negativity is important, but not as crucial as our thoughts. If we want to shape our future, we start in our heads, thinking about how to do so. Just be happy!
- Your significant other - Your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, pet cat, etc. If you don't have a positive significant other, you better run far and fast! You connect with this person on the deepest levels imaginable, they have power and influence even in your subconscious. Ensure that you are sharing love and giving long hugs to each other. Hugs are incredibly Paleo, as well as any form of touching one another (handshakes, hugs, arms on shoulder, lap etc.).
- Your Job - Many of us are working more hours for less money which results in stress. Stress then creates cortisol, possibly the worst thing to have in abundance in your life. an inflammatory causing hormone. Cortisol then creates depression, which creates a downwards spiral. Try to focus on the positive and learn the snowball effect and how it can improve your life. Also, take your job in strides and remember when to separate work from life, that is a fine line which many people seemed to forget to establish. You're home now, relax, smile and kiss your family!
- You will also benefit from reading my extensive guide on achieving happiness and improving your office space and work lifestyle.
I've become aware of the negative and have worked on it. Now what?
- Spend time in complete isolation - Like mentioned above, we are constantly surrounded with other people, sounds and TV's. I don't even own one, but you can't escape them. They are found in restaurants, clothing stores, etc. I guess if you tried hard enough, you could avoid them.
- Kill Your TV - Television produces beta waves, which can cause depression and leave you feeling "blah", no better way to describe it.
- Sing - La La La, feel the vibrations in your throat? Heard the term, "positive vibrations"? It's no joke, singing, especially in a choir can ease depression and lower stress levels. I recommend singing every day. Not just songs on the radio, but songs that bring back positive memories! Some of my type of music to listen to is smooth jazz for thinking, island music for feeling happy, and every other type of music too. So I guess that means, any type of music, whatever makes you feel good. Music can be depressing too! Don't dwell too long.
- Cry - You know that weight on your shoulders you haven't been able to shake off, let it go. Crying is one of the most natural body processes, we have this emotion and ability for a reason. Beyond the typical physical reactions of crying, it releases endorphins and can ease depression. Have you felt the need to cry and haven't let it out? Nows a good time, it makes you no less of a macho man either, if you are the one reading this. I don't know what point in time that men crying was seen as being less of a man, it's completely the opposite. I've had many women tell me that seeing a man cry shows that they are truly honest with themselves.
- Dance - Dancing is fun, releases endorphins and more. Do you need an article on why it's good for you? No! You know it's good, just go for it, even if you don't think you can dance. Turn on the stereo in your house and move around. Not only does it help improve balance and act as a mild cardio exercise (or intense depending on the type of dance), but it's fun!
- Eat - There is a reason restaurants are so popular, we want generally good food without having to work for it! Eating out, especially at a relatively healthy place, is one of life's best pleasures. If you are in a bad mood, you could be experiencing some irritability simply from a lack of food! Calm down, go drink a glass of water, eat a piece of seasoned meat, and report back. Do you feel better? If you are experiencing post-meal guilt, you probably ate something you shouldn't have. Re-evaluate your choices and check your diet.
- Laugh - Are you one of those serious people? Well.... You should laugh too, even if it is fake. The benefits of laughter have been well-established. There is actually such thing as Laugh Yoga, how cool!
- Sleep - This list may seem to list common sense items such as getting sleep. However, millions of people are experiencing effects of not enough sleep and aren't even aware of it due to stimulants such as the popular 5-hour energy, excessive coffee on every street corner, sugar bomb sodas and more. Below is a chart from the National Sleep Foundation showing the average hours of sleep per night on work days. Everyone should be in the 8-9 hour range. There is debate about sleeping in blocks of a few hours at a time; also known as polyphasic sleeping. You can read about it here if interested.
- Love - According to your outlook on life itself, this world can be a cold place, or one filled with smiles, warmth and love; you decide your future. Love is something that is not taught in schoolbooks (sadly), college courses or from any mainstream outlet for that matter. Love obviously means different things for everyone, but one thing that we can agree on is the following. Love everyone you can, and remember to say it, show it and feel it. Just assuming people know how you feel about them is not enough.
Love creates and enables many things in life, here are a few:
- Courage - Knowing that someone loves you and supports you can give you the courage to achieve anything. Do you think successful people stayed in their comfort zone to achieve what they wanted? Generally, they took calculated risks or got lucky by having the courage to try.
- Passion - Being passionate about something or someone can leak out into other aspects of your life. My love for learning about Earth spills over into my ultimate love to spread health and wellness across the world. Take your passion for your particular niche and apply it to other aspects of life. As Sarah from thepaleomom.com says, "it's only effort until it's routine".
- Purpose - A life without love is simply a life not worth living. What is the purpose of your existence if you are a mindless slave to your career and only receive money in return? Look within yourself and discover your purpose. It may lie within your fears or problems.
Are all your problems first world problems?
Lets go over a few things you can do to ensure optimal fat-loss as well as build muscle.
- Take advantage of a gym membership if you have one - Ranging from $30 a month to $150 a month, gym memberships can become a fat chunk of your life, literally. Not only are they expensive, but they are a waste of time if you don't take advantage of them. If your gym has a pool that's not salt water, I would advise you to proceed with caution when swimming due to the neurological damage that can occur.
- If you aren't fond of gyms or any social fitness group, you better start! - There are Zumba classes, Yoga, Hot Yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, and many others that you can add to this list. Social interaction and fitness go together like grass-fed butter and grass-fed beef; it just makes sense.
- Finding a social group and working out together, or finding a social group once you begin a class will ensure you stay focused and motivated towards your goals. Also, it makes it fun! I can't lie, gyms are not the most adventurous places to workout, I prefer sprinting up trails with tree roots that act as natural stairs.
- Start with low weight - This applies to everyone, even the macho men. Starting out with low weight when using dumbbells, kettlebells and any weights for that matter, is incredibly important to prevent injury. If you are lifting with improper form, you can and will hurt yourself. Injuries from torn ACL's or shoulder injuries which are more serious, can slow your progress for years to come. Be careful!
- Don't skip the basic exercises - Pushups can be an amazing warmup. For those that aren't comfortable with pushups or haven't developed the strength to, keep trying! Nothing comes easy in the beginning but once you begin to focus on the basic exercises such as lunges, pushups, jump rope and leg lifts, your fitness strength and endurance will begin to grow. I call this the snowball effect, it applies to all aspects of health and makes you unstoppable. I also wrote more tips for specifically getting results in the gym.
- Drink water throughout your day and workout - Dr. Mercola has talked about the benefits of drinking dark roast coffee, which is great! However, coffee can dehydrate you. It's important to drink water by itself especially during your workouts. Don't drink too much and make yourself feel sick, also, you might float away.
- Keep your workouts less than an hour - I've mentioned this before, you must keep workouts short. Oh, what a sigh of relief right? Not exactly, because your workouts are anywhere from 15-45 minutes, you need to have high intensity. That means, no extended amounts of rest time between your sets of jump rope or dumbbell bench press. Rest time depends on the person, but I advise no more than 1 minute between sets. This ensures you stay mentally focused, keep the blood flowing, and get you closer to the end as soon as possible.
- Look at the progress you've made, not how far you have to go - This tip still applies to me even after 5 years of lifting and serious exercise experience. It's important to take progress pictures of your body. That way you can send them into me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can see them for yourself. We'd love to feature your story!! Focusing on the future too far down the road can be extremely discouraging and you may never reach there. (so you think) That's why I keep my goals to a monthly, then 6 month goal. A year and beyond is almost too hard to attain for me, once again, depends on you.
- Keep a positive mindset - You knew this tip was coming, but it's no joke! If you are down on yourself because you ate something you shouldn't have, or today is the first day you are thinking about starting your exercise plan again, no big deal! You've made it this far to read this article and that means you care and are ready to make a change. Good job!
These are some of the essential mind hacks to think about while you're heading towards your goals. If you have anything you'd like to add or need help with, send an email over or comment on this page. You can submit a question through my form if you'd like! Take a second to do it, get it off your chest and we can help! Submit a question, send a comment, like my facebook page and smile! These are all things to keep this movement moving. Thanks for reading.