A better way to improve your health

When I don’t feel like it, what then?

#motivation #stressmanagement

Did you know that the 2nd most watched TedTalk of all time is by Amy Cuddy on the topic of Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are?

I learned of this TedTalk recently when I was being coached in the art of embracing my alter ego in the form of my optimal self; the person I am when I’m firing on all cylinders (btw: optimal is not that same as perfect because there are no perfect humans).

The teaching instruction was simple enough.  I was to stand up anytime my inner critic begins to heap some doubt or judgement upon me, and in my upright standing self, I’m to place my hands on my hips in a Superwoman pose, breathe normally and gently smile.  Stay like this for 30-seconds to 1 minute.

Then, here’s the key: simply see what happens! 

Don’t force anything, don’t predict, conjure…just be.

So, ok, before reading on, you try it.  Yeah, right now.  Go ahead, you’ll wanna experience this first hand.  NOTE: If you’re not in a place where you can stand up and do this, do the next best thing: sit up straight, rest your hands on your thighs (palms down), breathe and then inwardly smile.

What happened?  Did you feel something? 

In some ways it’s like playing make believe and getting in touch with that more playful part of ourselves; the one most of us don’t let come out and play nearly enough.

It’s also one of the best tools I’ve found to shift my willingness to do something I don’t feel like doing in that moment.   When I begin to inwardly whine or talk myself out of doing something hard or uncomfortable, deploying my Superwoman pose is incredibly helpful 8 out of 10 times in my experience.  That’s huge right?!!

What’s more, striking this pose at-will demonstrates how much power we hold and that we can wield it anytime we become aware, remember and willing to do so.  Using this tool allows a person to direct their attention, shift their energy and set an in-the-moment intention; all of which leads to taking a forward step of action. 

I’ve found this tool so helpful, I had to expand my Top Mindfulness (Awareness) Tools list from 6 to 7 items long. 

My Top 7 Mindfulness (Awareness) Tools:

  1. Begin each day with meditation and prayer – it’s my mental gym where I strengthen my inner-knowing muscles.  I’m especially keen on sensing my body’s feedback and witnessing how my thought patterns unfold.
  2. Practice the Pause – when I become aware I’m off-balance, angry, in doubt, confused, etc. I pause, take some cleansing breaths (exhale longer than inhale to turn on your calming energy or parasympathetic nervous system), remind myself that everything in life is temporary, then contemplate how I want to respond next.
  3. Read, watch or listen to an inspirational teacher.  I have some go-to resources via podcasts, Audible, Optimize.me, etc. that are anywhere from a couple of minutes long to an hour.
  4. Turn on one of my music playlists and dance (and yes, chair dancing counts too).
  5. Go for a walk outside and for me, the key is, there’s no time or distance expectation or target.  And I usually don’t have a structured route.  I just outside and begin!  Let the fresh air carry me away.
  6. Superwoman pose (I hear Madonna’s “Vogue” song play in my head as I’m standing up…strike a pose!).
  7. Write in my journal.  Often it’s a gratitude list, or what reminding myself of my intention for the day at-hand, or I might write list to organize my thoughts, or freestyle where I write out a difficulty I’m dealing with and see what unfolds on the paper (if I want more structure, I sometimes use Brene Brown’s Reading Guides with writing prompts).

 Using My Tools

I have to set lots of reminders meant to trigger me to practice my tools.  Things like handwritten notes strategically placed in places I frequent, custom phone alarms, jewelry, certain repetitive actions I take in a day that are tied to a phrase I say when I do that action, etc. Having MANY reminders is what I need because I have a fast forgetting mind and shiny objects hijack my attention a lot.  Sound familiar?

Being deliberate in using my tools on a daily basis is critical.  Especially when life is calm, going as planned and mostly within my control – that’s the BEST to practice.  When life is going well, I can really train my mindfulness (awareness) skills.  It’s important to practice with greatest intensity in the good times so that when the rough patches come, recall is stronger and near-automatic.  The goal is to have this set of tools that aren’t foreign nor take conscious willpower to exert, but instead are familiar allies and at-the-ready.

Practicing mindfulness creates moment to moment awareness.  It’s at the point of awareness that choice happens.  Choosing to continue as is – or – slow down and choose one of the tools in my toolbox. 

When I access my tools regularly (daily), I stay mostly aligned with my values and priorities and live my best life right now.  Not at some distant point in the future, but here and now!

Consistency, practice and patience are the 3 ingredients I find most useful.  I still fall down, get off course and do a full on face plant now and then, but less often and for shorter durations.

I'm pretty happy about adding the Superwoman pose to my Top Mindfulness (Awareness) Tools list.  So far it's turning out to be a game changer.  I feel like I’m able to quickly harness my energy and add more playfulness to my day.

Are you ready to strike a power pose?  If Superwoman (or Superman) isn't your thing, get creative and find the right one that works for you.

To get ideas and learn more about the power of body language, watch that TedTalk I referenced – it’s really heartwarming and eye opening.  There’s a reason it’s #2 on that all-time watched list.

Then, take a few minutes and write out your Top Mindfulness (Awareness) Tools list. 

What’s in your toolbox? 

How can you set up reminders to access and use them more often?

If you’re having trouble identifying your tools, or maybe struggling to stay on track, consider reaching out to me for individual Health Coaching.  I’d welcome the opportunity to help you live more optimally, using a custom set of tools designed to support the life you’re wanting to create, so that you can enjoy each day as though it were your last.

Contact me today with any questions about private Health Coaching with me or schedule your first session now.

PS – if you’re curious about the alter ego concept I briefly mentioned at the top of today’s article, check out Todd Herman’s book The Alter Ego Effect

PSS – we all have an alter ego and in fact, we have multiple!  Embracing them helps us bring out our best self by being more playful in life.  Just because we grow up shouldn’t mean playtime stops.

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