Essential tools to change your life – Saratogian
Recently, we discussed the crippling power of familiarity and how we will repeatedly choose familiar patterns over something new, something difficult, and something that will take us out of our usual comfort zone. Struggles with treatment-resistant human conditions like depression, anxiety, and insomnia have often evaporated with the use of the simple tools covered in this article.
Consistent application of these essential tools will affect mood, anxiety, insomnia, and even memory. When applied as an integrated package, the impact is nothing short of amazing.
But Dr Cale, I don’t feel like doing this every day.
Many of you can read some of these proven recommendations and say, “I don’t feel like doing this.” Okay, fair enough. Then curl up in your chair, pull out your phone or turn on the TV, grab some more vodka and watch your life energy gradually fade into moments of talk, then surrender into some more talk. It’s not pretty when you fail to invest in your own well-being.
Basically you have a choiceâ¦ if you are really in trouble. Do what feels familiar (even if it’s painful) and expect more of what you got. If that’s acceptable, then great. Dark. Remember: it’s more blah after blah life that you choose in this case.
However, if you want more, then something more than a magic pill must appear in your life. However, this pill will never really do what it takes to create a fulfilling and joyful life.
It all depends on where you invest your energy
When we are struggling, our energy is constantly focused on our problems and the issues in life. So if we are feeling anxiety or sadness, or if we have a traumatic past, we often put a lot of repeated energy into revisiting the same thoughts and following the same patterns. Even though this approach doesn’t work, we still put our energy into our pain.
The result: No more pain.
Why? Because the law of life says: wherever your attention goes, your life energy flows. In other words, the more attention we pay to a thought or memory that makes us feel bad, the more that painful thought gains neural support in the brain and the stronger it becomes. We end up “feeding” the thoughts that are really causing us pain and discomfort by giving them our attention.
So, in the end, as you read these tools that we are discussing, please understand that this is an investment of life. This is where you invest your life energy. If your energy is invested in your improvement, your health and your happiness, then your brain, your body and your life must respond to this repeated investment. Again, this is the law.
Every minute that you invest in a better thought, or a better habit of feeling, or listening to music for a better feeling, is a minute when you have started to change your destiny. Add enough of those minutes and life surrenders to your intention to feel healthier and better.
Dr Cale’s Essential Tools for Transformation
1 – know your blood health
Over the past decade, I have worked with many clients struggling with mood and energy issues who, after having undergone a complete endocrine workup, have discovered problems with the thyroid, adrenal glands or blood sugar. So, before you jump into any of the next steps, make sure you have a good handle on your endocrine health, as issues here can mimic many mental health issues. More importantly, a correction radically changes the ease with which you can adopt the following.
Chronic stress, when intense, places an extraordinary demand on the adrenal glands and the cortisol released to help the body cope with this stress can have detrimental effects on many systems in the body. When we do a QEEG, or quantitative EEG, in my neurofeedback clinic, we can often see the impact of chronic stress on the brain. So let’s check that out first.
2 – (drum roll pleaseâ¦) Exercise is essential.
Yes, exercise. Maybe you do or maybe you don’t want to hear it, but exercise has always proven to be helpful in most of our current psychological struggles. Studies show a better effect than most psychotherapies and drugs, if done regularly and with adequate and vigorous demand on the system. The same positive results are true for debilitating anxiety and reduction in panic attacks.
And let’s not forget everyone’s grandfather: sleep. Exercise improves sleep, and sleep (broadly defined) improves just about everything. Why?
Because the reverse is true: Consistently poor sleep patterns make everything worse, including mood, memory, and focus. Again, QEEGs can confirm the impact of chronic insomnia on the brain and emphasize the importance of changing patterns.
How does sleep do all of this? Many theories exist, and some are well supported. Basically when we exercise we are focusing on something that is good for us, and that is an important first step. The more we focus on what is good, the better we will feel.
We also breathe deeply when we exercise, and this is becoming increasingly important. There are also theories about increasing serotonin and a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a fancy way of referring to a molecule that helps the brain function better with memory and mood.
Overall, we don’t know all the reasons, but we do know that exercise is critically important, if there is a way to start moving. It doesn’t mean running five miles. It translates to movement, then more movement, then more movement. So you start to walk around the block. Then you hike the block twice, then five times and just continue to comfortably add more movement.
Critical Point: By doing this exercise, change your expectations. A week will be no different. In a month you will feel different. In six months, your whole life could change. Because you are changing your inner world in very small increments, you should expect incremental change. Not the “Oh, I feel good” in three days. Instead, take pleasure in knowing that you are on a better path. Good things will come, if you stay on this path. Think about it. Focus on that.
The five remaining tools
Next week, we’ll cover some low-tech and high-tech tools, all of which come together to fill the essential toolbox for transformation. Until then, start moving and do your endocrine work! We will finish on that next week.
Dr Randy Cale, a Clifton Park-based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical advice for a multitude of parenting issues. Its website, www.TerrificParenting.com, offers free parenting advice and an email newsletter. Readers can learn more by reviewing previous articles found on The Saratogian, The Record, and The Community News websites. Submit your questions to [email protected]om