DAY 1: Balance is a Verb
Day 1: Self Reflection
Fill out Day 1 in your workbook to determine what areas of your life are a little out of whack and which ones are fine and dandy!
How to Use Workbook:
Complete Exercises on editable PDF and save on home computer or print and keep score the old fashion way
Exercises, Videos, etc should only take up 20 minutes of your day
Put some skin in the game with your partner: Money on the Line or humorous consequence of losing always works best.
Harass/Manipulate/Guilt trip your partner daily to help keep you both on track
KEEP SCORE of your progress ONCE in the morning and ONCE MORE at night.
Day 1 Micro-Science: Stages of Change
The brain is a creature of habit and doesn’t necessarily like when you start to make changes. It prefers to put as little effort as possible into everyday, basically the brain’s main goal is to survive. So your brain may have come up with a multitude of reasons why you shouldn’t do this course, but here you are, so well done! Everyone is going to enter this course in different stages of change. Some may be gun-ho while others signed up reluctantly to appease their partner. However, whatever got you to the start line is fine with me.
FACT: 99% of those who start a marathon finish a marathon.
TAKEAWAY: If you get your mind and body to the starting line, you have pretty much done the hard part. Now hopefully momentum will keep you moving forward.
The path through the stages of change is never quite as straightforward as the theory would suggest. Often people wander around erratically, jumping from contemplation to action, to find only a week later they are stuck in pre-contemplation not understanding why they wanted to make the change in the first place. So give yourself a break, there is not set way to make a change, just keep trying and eventually your brain will give up and stop fighting the change so hard. Watch the video below for a quick explanation of how the stages of change work.
Day 1 Meditation: Gratefulness
Cortisol, your bodies stress chemical, is released at its highest amount in the morning time. This is due to evolution wanting to motivate you out of bed and into the world of productivity. This annoying feature of the brain use to help cavemen and cavewomen find the courage to get out of the shadows and hunt down the days meal. In order to counteract this prehistoric tendency we need to divert blood flow away from the stress centers of our brain and towards the parts of our brain that promote positive emotions. Writing a gratefulness list every morning is the best way to do this. When you wake up and start thinking about what is going right in your life a positive feedback loop begins in your brain. Therefore, making it more likely that more positive thoughts will follow, somewhat pushing the first domino over in a long line of positive thoughts.
FACT: Writing down five things your grateful for every morning increases your “overall life satisfaction” score by 20%. That’s the same percentage your happiness score would improve if you doubled your income.
TAKEAWAY: Being grateful is the easiest and cheapest way to increase your subjective well being.
Day 1 Meditation: The Mindstrength 30 asks you to complete a list of five things you are grateful for every morning. This activity is suppose to get you started on that trend. The task for today is to get a blank piece of paper, set a timer for three minutes, and write down as many things you can think of that you’re grateful for.
Day 1 Movement Task: Returning to Baseline
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, but ignoring stress definitely is. Stress promotes action and is a internal body symptom that can be very helpful in motivating us naturally lazy humans. For instance, if we have a deadline on Friday then stress hits on Monday to help us get our bodies in motion. However, if we ignore these internal signals by hiding behind our smartphones or alcohol, the symptoms will only get bigger and bigger.
Therefore, in order to combat our small daily stressors we must learn how to develop little micro-therapies within our day that bring us back to homeostasis, so our stress doesn’t accumulate and become full blown anxiety.
FACT: If your brain is constantly experiencing chronic stress the learning center of the brain, called the hippocampus, can develop holes in it from overheating. Up to 30% of this critical brain area can disappear if you’re always feeling on edge.
TAKEAWAY: If depressed or anxious people injure the hippocampus in their brains, then learning new coping skills becomes that much harder. This can then create a vicious cycle where anxiety and depression continue indefinitely, due to the brains inability to learn ways to counteract stressors. However, there are ways to create new brain cells in your hippocampus to replace the ones that have died out. Exercise, novel experiences, and good sleep help repair the damage done by over stressing.
Day 1 Movement Task: For todays task, the goal is practice a form of micro-therapy that works in almost any setting. The breath, for reasons that will be explained later, is the bodies best defense against stress. So that is what will be practicing today. The task is to catch yourself at some point today getting irritated or annoyed. This could be in traffic, with your partner, or during a difficult moment at work. Once you feel your body start to react to these minor stressors, just find your breath. It’s probably hidden down there somewhere, beneath all the clutter. Then steady the breathe in order too steady your mind. To fully complete the task make sure you either feel the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out or audibly listen for the sound of your deep breath. Make sure you don’t slouch on the out -breath thats the part that activates your rest and digest system.
Day 1 Bonus Material:
#1) Ted Talk: How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed
Check out this Ted Talk by Daniel Levitin about how to keep your cool when things get hot. Great talk about how the brain works under stress and how to get the most out of your outdated brain.
#2) Best Possible Self Exercise: Greater Good of Berkeley
Check out this exercise by the good folks at Berkeley that help you identify what the best possible “you” might be like in the future.