How can hypnotherapy help you enjoy an active lifestyle?
It is widely accepted that an active lifestyle is essential to our physical and mental health. If like many others, you find yourself struggling to find the ‘get-up-and-go’ or find that you start one exercise regime after another only to give up, it may be that your subconscious mind is getting in the way. This is where hypnotherapy can help.
Note: If you are unaccustomed to exercising or are intending to increase your activity levels, it is a good idea to check first with your GP / health practitioner to ensure that you do so in a way that is healthy for you.
I am not a personal trainer and am not qualified to advise about exercise. This article offers general, well-documented recommendations only. Please seek further information and expert advice as needed. Always start gently and build up your activity levels gradually.
What is an active lifestyle?
Movement, exercise, physical activity, an active lifestyle. The words are different, the basic meaning is the same as they all refer to sitting less and moving our bodies more to keep us fit, strong and healthy in body and mind. However, the images brought to mind by the different words can vary widely, and some can be really off-putting. The term ‘exercise’ means different things to different people. Some love to exercise, others hate it.
I prefer not to think about ‘exercise’. I prefer to think about adopting an active lifestyle. A lifestyle you can enjoy.
The human body is designed to be active. Our original lifestyle was that of a hunter-gatherer, active throughout much of the day; walking, running, picking berries and plants, making a fire, fetching water, making everything that was required to sustain life. In such a lifestyle, people would not have had prolonged periods of time undertaking any one activity, certainly not prolonged periods of sitting. Hunter-gatherer tribes did not go for a run in the morning then sit around all day. They were active in bursts of varying durations throughout the day and evening, and resting with more social or sedentary activities in between.
In our modern lives, an active lifestyle is no longer essential to our basic survival needs. An active lifestyle is, however, still essential for our health and well-being.
What are the benefits of an active lifestyle?
We need to use our muscles to maintain our strength, mobility and independence. An active lifestyle also allows us to keep our heart and lungs strong and healthy and makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
An active lifestyle is also vital for our mental health and well-being. Being physically active can improve our sleep, mental alertness, mood, energy, self-esteem and sense of well-being. It can also reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, anger and frustration, worrying and intrusive thoughts.
What is my subconscious mind and how can it be getting in the way?
The conscious and subconscious minds are not physical entities, they are concepts that help us to understand more about how our brains work.
The conscious mind is the logical, planning part of our brain which considers different options, weighs up the consequences of our actions (both short and long-term) and makes a rational decision accordingly.
Our subconscious mind is the part of our brain focussed on survival. This part of the brain is not interested in logic, rational thinking or consequences it is concerned only with what will help us survive in a particular situation. It doesn’t like danger or stress and works to avoid both. It is hard work and takes a lot of energy for the conscious mind to over-ride the subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind could be interfering in your plans to enjoy an active lifestyle in two ways.
Firstly, in days gone by when we had to be physically active to survive, conserving energy was a priority. Nowadays, with our considerably more sedentary lifestyles, we no longer need to conserve energy, but our subconscious mind still thinks that we do. Studies (Boisgontier, M et al) have shown that it is harder and actually takes more energy to avoid sedentary behaviour than to avoid physical activity.
Secondly, for those of us with unpleasant memories of PE lessons at school or previous attempts at physical activity which we considered to be unsuccessful, the subconscious mind is trying to save us from further stress and distress by finding excuses to avoid physical activity.
Our subconscious minds do not realise that these attempts to protect us are harmful to our long term physical and mental health.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Hypnotherapy can help by encouraging your subconscious mind to be more open to suggestion and different possibilities. Using your own words and goals, hypnotherapy can enable your subconscious mind to see that physical activity is enjoyable, fun and something that you want to do.
Using a combination of hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and Hypno-coaching I can help you to work out why an active lifestyle is important to you, what your goals are and what they mean to you, then help you overcome any obstacles or ‘mental blocks’ which are getting in the way of you achieving your goals. I won’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing, when or how to do it. I will help you to find out what you enjoy, boost your motivation and confidence to achieve your goals and set you on the path of an active, enjoyable lifestyle for life.
If you would like any further information or discuss how I could help you achieve your goals and enjoy an active lifestyle, please get in touch.
My ten tips for enjoying an active lifestyle
In the meantime, here are my ten top tips for enjoying an active lifestyle.
1. Make it fun
If it is fun, you won’t even realise that you are exercising. Dance around the kitchen to your favourite music, play active computer games or set up a game of ‘capture the flag’ with another family.
2. Make it social
- You’re more likely to stick to your plans, have fun and stay motivated if others are involved.
- It’s a great chance to connect with others while doing something good for your mind and body. Instead of meeting your friend for coffee and cake you could grab a flask and head out for a walk in the local area.
3. Get active with your family and friends
Making time for yourself amid the conflicting priorities of work, family, friends, managing a house, juggling the kids’ activities etc is always tricky. If you can get active as a family or with your friends you tick at least two of those boxes at the same time.
A trip to the park, a kick-about, a spot of geo-caching (like a treasure hunt - more information online), orienteering (there are permanent courses around the country), cycling, active computer games, swimming, water sports, frisbee, foot-golf, and trampoline parks are all good fun and great opportunities for family time and a spot of physical activity.
4. Squeeze it in. It may help to take a look at your ‘typical’ week.
I bet that during the day you have an odd 10 minutes here and there which you may spend scrolling through social media. If you used a little of that time you could squeeze in quite a lot of activity, especially a spot of body weight or weight training.
Jumping jacks, squats, lunges, press-ups, running on the spot or bicep curls could all be squeezed into a few spare minutes while the kettle boils.
5. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a walk
A humble walk is a good exercise. It may be a stroll around the block, a brisk walk to the shops, bus stop, to work or on the school run (my school run walk was always rather brisk, I was always the last mum to speed walk through the gates!), or a walk/hike in the countryside. Better still if you are walking with a friend, chatting and having fun.
6. Build walking or cycling into your lifestyle
You can do this by walking or cycling everywhere you can. It’s better for you, for the environment and your wallet. It may mean allowing a little more time for that trip to the shops, the school run, or your commute, but it will be worth it and will quickly become a new habit that you enjoy.
7. Lift some weights and use your body weight
In addition to cardiovascular exercise (the kind that raises our heart rate and gets us a little out of breath), it is really important to build strength. Squats, lunges and press-ups are fantastic bodyweight exercises and a couple of bottles of water are great for a few bicep curls.
8. Mix it up
Variety is, as they say, the spice of life. Mixing things up means we are more likely to stay interested and keep having fun.
Undertaking various activities also uses our muscles in different ways that keep challenging our bodies so that we see and feel the maximum benefit.
9. Try new things
Instead of rotating a setlist of activities you know you enjoy, try new things. YouTube is fantastic for this as you can try so many different activities with no cost or travel time. If you find something you enjoy you could either stick to YouTube or try to find a local class and do what you enjoy in a social environment.
It may help to have a list of activities you would like to try (anything from sub-aqua to hot yoga, climbing to kick-boxing) and try one once a month. Who knows what new talents and skills you will discover and how much fun you will have along the way.
10. Record and reward your success
Recording your progress and success can be a big psychological boost, and gives you something you can look back on to see how far you have come and how much fun you had along the way. A simple ‘x’ or smiley face on the calendar for every day you get active would be sufficient.
Don’t forget to reward yourself. You could have a list of rewards that you enjoy, from taking a long bath to new activities you would like to try, movies you would like to watch, or half an hour with a cup of tea and a good book. Just make sure that your rewards are consistent with your goals.
Further information and references
- Boisgontier, M et al (2018) Avoiding sedentary behaviours requires more cortical resources than avoiding physical activity: an EEG study [Accessed online 06-05-2021] https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/277988v2.full
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