I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have moments of crankiness, and I sure had one last week because of significant roadblocks I’d encountered in a real estate project.
Negativity crept into my thoughts, and the same positivity-boosting tools I teach others didn’t make a dent in my mood. The funk just wouldn’t lift.
Until . . . I kicked and punched my way through a self-defence class. Afterwards, I felt amazingly energized and liberated. By the next morning, I’d developed a coping strategy that’s led to more peace, focus, and productive problem-solving. Yay!
But of course
In hindsight my transformation made complete sense.
- Learning a valuable new skill made me feel more powerful, or, in positive psychology lingo, “self-efficacious.”
- I had to completely focus my attention on the class or I’d get hurt.
- All that high-intensity kicking and punching took a lot of effort.
- My classmates and I had fun cheering each other on.
Physical and Mental Benefits
My experience fits with a number of scientific studies that confirm physical activity reduces stress and anxiety while also improving mood, memory, creativity, and learning ability. Here’s how:
- Physical activity increases neurotransmitters in the brain that act as natural mood enhancers and antidepressants.
- It boosts blood flow to the brain, aiding the production of new neurons and brain cells.
- It serves as a distraction from stressors, including negative thoughts.
- It gives a sense of control over the body. By contrast, depression and rumination lead to a perceived loss of control.
Of course exercise isn’t a cure-all. But it’s powerful. In fact, Tal Ben-Shahar, a leading Positive Psychology researcher, ranks exercise as his No. 1 tip for boosting happiness.
6 Tips to Move More
Try a novel approach to physical activity this month as we continue our 2016 Positivity Tool adventure. Here’s a few ideas:
- Find an activity that makes you happy! Crazy idea I know 🙂 I recently rediscovered the sheer joy of running, enjoying nature and feeling the cool, fresh air on my face. It helps me see the world afresh and full of possibility.
- Schedule it. Giving physical activity a specific slot in your calendar is key to creating a habit, which puts exercise on automatic.
- Make it a challenge! Try a new activity that’s moderately difficult but not impossible. For example, have you heard of Intensati? Check out this Ted Talk. I’m looking for an Intensati class in Vancouver … let me know if you find one.
- Make it a social event! Being accountable to others will help get you out the door, and exercising with friends can be more fun than going solo.
- Or make it “me time.” Part of my re-enjoyment of running comes from heading out early in the morning when nobody else is around.
- Consider an activity tracker. Especially if you’re a goal-setter or a measurer. I started using a Fitbit after reading this Positive Psychology article, and I love it! It keeps me accountable and so happy when I see all the little green bars marking my progress.
One last thing…
Would you like a Facebook Group just for us adventurers?
Our February positivity tool on relationships made me realize that dialogue could add an element of camaraderie, support, and idea-sharing to our 2016 Positivity Adventure.
So I’m thinking of setting up a Facebook group just for us. Though I’m slightly embarrassed to admit Social Media is a new world to me, it may be a way to create a greater sense of community. What do you think? Would love your feedback in this 3 question survey.
In the meantime, continue to lead your life with a focus on G.R.A.C.E. [Grow Relationships & Choreograph Efforts]…enjoy yourself and the moment…and lead with confidence!
May the (positivity) force be with you.
.. Mary Ellen (ME)
Mary Ellen Sanajko
Leadership Coach & Trainer