Gratitude Benefits

Gratitude inspires you.
Gratitude nourishes the soul.
Gratitude makes others feel better.
Gratitude is easy, quick, and simple.
Gratitude puts you on a direct line to God.
Gratitude frees you from petty annoyances.
Gratitude attracts the right people into your life.
Gratitude raises your awareness of things around you.
Gratitude changes your view of so-called “bad” things.
Gratitude is an instant blues-breaker and stress-reliever.
Gratitude is like compound interest on money in the bank: the more you put in, the more you get out.
Gratitude is a spiritual act because it acknowledges that the origin of all good things is a source outside ourselves.
Gratitude stops you taking your life for granted and helps you realize how many good things you have in your life.
Gratitude puts your thoughts and feelings on a high vibration level that in turn attracts back to you more things to be grateful for.
Gratitude makes you feel better. In the words of an Arabian proverb, “The hand that gives the roses always keeps some of the scent.”

 

Make gratitude a habit with the workbook

The Gratitude Workbook | Gratitude Journal PDF

Possible logos for my other website

Below are some logos for my other website called Creative and Life Mindfulness. Any comments and preferences welcome. My favourites are 2( the lotus flower) and 6 (person sitting in lotus position). At present I think I can use both of them if they use the same font for CALM. I may use the flower for creative activities and the person for life activities. I have tried to some font shadings on 6.

Understanding modes of Consciousness

A psychological researcher named Andrea Polard identified 2 modes of consciousness in which your brain can operate.She labelled these basic mode and supreme mode. The basic mode is our standard mode where we focus on goals, relationships and achievements. This helps establish priorities and structures our life. In terms of Paul Gilbert’s Three Circle model, this mode helps us to extend our consciousness to establish drive and enthusiasm. The supreme mode is simply being present. It counters the stress and worry of the basic mode in order to keep us in balance.

The basic mode is our natural evolutionary mode. As we have a natural instinct to overemphathize and protect against risk, the supreme mode of functioning must be consciously chosen and persistently practiced. It requires letting go and this can be very difficult for your basic mode to accept. The supreme mode offers many benefits. As a statistic we take in 11,000,000 pieces of information per second and only process 40 of them consciously. The other 10,999,960 pieces of information are used outside our conscious awareness. If we tap into our supreme mode of functioning we can gradually gain access to this unconscious information. It can help us avoid worry and stress and find innovative solutions.

A simple 3 step guide to tapping into the supreme mode is as follows:

Prime the Subconscious

Phrase the information or guidance you are looking for in the form if a question. For example, “What is the best way to solve problem x?” At this stage you can jot down what comes into your mind but then let it go and move on to step 2

Relaxing Your Analytical Mind

The three main techniques for relaxing the analytical mind are meditation, exercise and sleep. In all of these activities you are not focused on the issue you are trying to solve. In meditation you may be following your breathing which activates the non-linguistic parts of your brain so the thinking part recedes. Exercise naturally focuses on physical movement and when we sleep when we allow ourselves to drift into unconsciousness.

Noticing the Solutions

The final step is to notice the solutions that arise. It is important to be relaxed and paying attention for signs rather than rushing to grab them. It is important to consider anything you might normally regard as silly or random as they may lead you to a novel way of viewing things.  Sometimes you will notice things that have never caught your eye before. The key thing is to be mindfully aware of what you are noticing. Keeping notes of what you spot will be very insightful. Life is constantly feeding us information and being able to tap into the subconscious information helps us free ourselves from worry and stress.

The Relaxation Response

Many people receiving mental health care are aware of the flight or fight response. This response prepares the body for danger and, among other things, releases adrenaline and cortisol which instigate a range of physiological responses to assist the body in dealing with a threat. This flight or fight response is activated by a branch of the autonomic nervous system (the system which deals with involuntary or unconscious neural responses) called the sympathetic nervous system. To understand how repeatedly activating the flight or fight response can make this your default way of thinking it helps to imagine your brain as a field of long grass (or a jungle) which is difficult to walk through. When you activate a pathway in the brain you create a path in the difficult terrain. The more you activate a response in the brain and walk down its path, the more the glass is flattened and the easier and faster it is for the brain to take that route. In other words your brain becomes sensitized to that pathway and follows that path even when the threat is no longer ‘real.’ The individual who suffers the distress of the physiological symptoms certainly does not want to feel this way they have inadvertently trained their brain to react this way*. Early intervention in mental health, therefore, is crucial because it can stop the development of unhelpful pathways in the brain

The flight or fight response is talked about extensively by  mental health care providers. There is, however, another equally (if not more) important response which is the converse of the flight or fight response which receives little press. The sympathetic nervous system has a sibling called the parasympathetic nervous system. This has an involuntary response called the relaxation response and was first published by Herbert Benson in 1970’s. The relaxation response is the opposite of the flight or fight response and activates relaxation in the body by reducing breathing rate, lowering blood pressure and increasing oxygen to the brain to name but a few. You can intentionally sensitize this pathway in the brain through daily relaxation practice. This practice needs to be regular and consistent and approximately 20 minutes in duration to get the full benefits of the response. Understandably people with mood disorders find relaxation harder as their other ‘negative pathways’ are triggered very easily. Although it may sound like an impossibility at first, it is advised that this sort of practice becomes an integral part of your life, such as cleaning your teeth or eating breakfast, in order to alleviate your mental distress for the the term of your life. If you are skeptical, consider trying it for 21 days as this is the average time taken for the brain to start or break a habit. Remember to be kind to yourself because, even if you do allocate a 20 minute daily slot, you may not be able to relax some days so it is expected that it noticeable benefits will take longer. I know it is easier said than done but being hard on yourself for not being able to relax is counter-productive and not evidence-based. There is, however, evidence that people withe mood disorders will find the practice harder as their other ‘negative pathways’ are sensitized; persevering with this practice deserves a real pat on the back.

If you wish to know more about the relaxation response, please feel free to ask as I have a copy of a book called The Relaxation Revolution written by Herbert Benson 30 years after he first published his findings in a medical journal in the 70’s. This book has a more detailed explanation of the underlying physiology and more advice for exercises to trigger the response. It targets the general public and not just mental health suffers as relaxation is necessary for everyone’s health.

*The notion of making sensitized pathways is the brain doesn’t just apply to the flight or fight response; it applies to many of our thought processes such as automatic thinking styles. If we have laid a nice neat path in the brain by repeatedly telling ourselves we are a failure, for example, the brain will take that ‘easy’ path rather than the alternative path with longer grass where we are compassionate to ourselves.

Basic Maths of Dieting

Below are some calculations to help with healthy dieting and exercise.

A pound of body fat contains 3500 calories. In order to lose a pound of fat (not water) a week you must consume (3500/7) 500 calories per day less than you expend.

The average resting metabolic rate is that every kilogram of body weight requires 25 calories per day to maintain itself. In general the calories per kg you expend per day is the same as your BMI. I am 10 stone which is 140lbs or (140/2.2) 63.5 kg and I have a BMI of 25. In order to maintain a stable weight, therefore, I can eat roughly  (63.5 * 25) 1600 calories per day.

A sensible way to lose 500 calories per day is to eat 200 calories less and exercise for 300 calories.

Walking to Lose Weight

Travelling one mile on foot expends roughly 100 calories for the average person. This is the same whether you walk or run, but naturally if you run you can do more miles in the same time and burn more calories. If you have a country walk and do not know the distance you can estimate it as follows:

Walking one mile at an amble pace takes 20 mins

Walking one mile fairly briskly takes 15 miles

Aerobic walking (as fast as you can normally) takes 12 mins.

A 45 minute session of a brief warm up, aerobic walking and a cool down will burn roughly 300 calories. If you are above a BMI of 25 or if  safely increase your weight with a weighted vest or gloves (but not ankle weights) the calories expended will naturally be more as the body as to work harder.

Foods for Thermogenesis

Certain foods increase your metabolic rate. These include cayenne pepper, hot chilies,  sweet chilies, ginger,and the juice and peel of citrus fruits. In fact lemon peel is one of the healthiest things you can eat (Google it 🙂 ).  As a rule of thumb, spicy foods increase your metabolism but it is generally recommended to not go overeat them for weight loss (I cannot remember the reason why, I think it affects the homeostasis of your body temperature). For example I drink water containing lemon juice and peel and ginger. It tastes nice and is inexpensive.