Mental Health

3 ways to elevate Your Brain Power

Let’s take a look at the power of the  magic protein BDNF & and how to release it with exercise! Shall we?

You know exercise is fantastic for your physical health, but did you know it’s also a game-changer for your brain? The latest scientific research unveils the power of a magic protein known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This wondrous substance has the potential to supercharge your brain and amplify your memory, and guess what? Cardiovascular exercise is the secret sauce that stimulates its release!

BDNF doesn’t just tiptoe through your brain; it’s a superhero that rewires and constructs new neural pathways. Imagine it working its magic in the hippocampus, the area responsible for your memory, and the frontal lobes, the brain’s command center for analysis, critical thinking, and decision-making. In essence, exercise gives your brain a BDNF-powered turbo boost!

Now, let’s dive into three exciting ways you can turn exercise into a joyous routine while unleashing the full potential of your brain:

1. Make It Fun and Exciting

The key to sustaining an exercise routine is selecting activities that make you grin from ear to ear. Not everyone is jazzed about hitting the gym, and guess what? That’s perfectly fine! There’s a whole world of heart-pounding, BDNF-pumping activities out there waiting for you.

How about dancing to your favorite tunes, taking refreshing swims, hiking amidst nature’s grandeur, or cycling through scenic routes? Even a brisk walk can do wonders. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore; it can be your daily dose of fun and excitement. As a delightful bonus, exercise unleashes endorphins, those natural happiness-boosters, leaving you happier and more relaxed.

2. Schedule Exercise Like a Pro

If it’s in the calendar, it’s happening. That’s the golden rule! Scheduling exercise transforms it from a wish into a reality. Block out dedicated time in your diary, and gradually increase your sessions until you’re enjoying 30 minutes of exercise, four or five times a week. Just like brushing your teeth, exercise will become an indispensable part of your daily routine.

3. Make It Musical

Here’s a delightful fact: music has the power to skyrocket motivation and happiness. Picture yourself moving to the rhythm of your favorite tunes during your workout; suddenly, exercise becomes an exciting dance party! Even mundane tasks like housework can turn into a brain-boosting performance when set to your favorite melodies. Crank up the volume and let the music guide your chores!

Craft a playlist of your cherished songs, and watch as exercise transforms into a joyful, easy-to-maintain habit, thanks to the inspiring tunes that keep you moving!

with love and respect,

What’s your ultimate playlist of motivating tunes that will turn every workout into a dance party? Share below

Got questions? Click here and send me a message or schedule a time to chat. 

3 ways to elevate Your Brain Power Read More »

“Excuse me, But isn’t it rather selfish & unempathic to put m happiness first”

I recently was asked this great question… 

Actually this is probably the most malicious myth about happiness at all!

But, it comes in several varieties… did you ever heart this before:
“In a world so full of suffering, you can be happy only if you’re callous and self-centered”⁠
“Happy people become wrapped up in their own pleasure! They’re complacent and uninterested in the world”.⁠

And just to make this clear right from the bottom: These are WRONG!!!!⁠

Studies show that, quite to the contrary, happier people are more likely to help other people, they’re more interested in social problems, they do more volunteer work, and they contribute more to charity. They’re less preoccupied with their personal problems.⁠

WHEN I’M FEELING HAPPY… I find it easier to notice other people’s problems… I feel that I have more energy to try to take action… I have the emotional wherewithal to tackle sad or difficult issues… and I’m not as preoccupied with myself… I feel more generous and forgiving. ⁠

 How about you? 

If you spend time with someone who exudes positivity, and you are more likely to feel positive… Hang with someone who acts like life’s number one victim, and guaranteed, Debbie downer is going to rub off on you. RIGHT OR WRONG?⁠

It is called EMOTIONAL CONTAGION… and it means the emotions of others can influence us. ⁠

So if happy people make other people happy, why is it that happy people are sometimes thought to be selfish?⁠

This myth that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided.⁠
IN FACT It’s more selfless to act happy. ⁠
It takes energy, generosity and discipline to be “happy”, BUT yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.⁠

“ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY IS TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY; ⁠
ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY IS TO BE HAPPY YOURSELF”⁠

Everyone accepts the first part of this phrase, but the second part is just as important!⁠

By making the effort to make yourself happier, you better equip yourself to make other people happier, as well. ⁠

IT’S NOT SELFISH TO TRY TO BE HAPPY… ⁠
HAPPINESS is your BIRTHRIGHT!⁠

With all my love. B.⁠

Facts about Happiness you might want to know...

Happiness takes work. Happy people are taken for granted because they are thought of as  naturally happy people or born happy, yet upbeat people have to work at being resilient, bouncing back, rising above, and staying positive. The outside world only sees the happy person and not the effort behind the scenes, so positive people don’t receive credit for creating their sunshine-like dispositions. “Happiness is a work ethic. You have to train your brain to be positive, just like you work out your body,”

what can I do to make sure I'm becoming the best version of myself_BLOGbyBIMAKO

Happy people are overlooked. If happy people are thought to be in selfish pursuit of their own fulfillment and pleasure, consider that the happy person often goes unnoticed. “No one is careful of (a happy person’s) feelings or tries to keep his spirits high,” Rubin says. “Because happy people seem self-sufficient, they become a cushion for others.”  The happy person is expected to lift others up.

Happiness doesn’t mean you lack empathy. Just because your smile lights up a room, doesn’t mean you are blind to the suffering going on in the world. You don’t have to sacrifice your happiness to show the world you are compassionate. “Just as eating your dinner doesn’t help starving children in India; being blue yourself doesn’t help unhappy people become happier,” Rubin says. In fact, happier people are better equipped to demonstrate their empathy and help people because their emotional tanks are full.  “When I’m feeling happy, I find it easier to notice other people’s problems. I have more energy to try to take action and I have the emotional wherewithal to tackle sad or difficult issues, and I’m not as preoccupied with myself. I feel more generous and forgiving,” Rubin says. There will always be tragic stories happening in the world, but empathy is better expressed with giving back and good deeds, than giving up your happiness in a show of support.

Happy people give back.  Happy people are more interested in social problems, more likely to do volunteer work and contribute to charity, according to Gallup Well-being polls. While unhappy people tend to socially withdraw and focus on themselves, happy people turn outward and are more available to help others. And when people give back it only enhances their happiness, says Harvey McKinnon, a nonprofit fundraising expert and author of The Power of Giving: How Giving Back Enriches Us All. “People are hard-wired to give, and when people give to others, it makes them feel better.” Turns out, one of the best ways to get happy in the first place is to do a selfless act—help other people be happy. Rubin calls it a splendid truth: “The best way to make yourself happy is to make others happy, and the best ways to make other people happy, is to be happy yourself.”

It occurs to me, that it’s quiet important to care & fill our own “cup” first… just because of the fact that no-one can pour from an empty cup!  so you want to make a difference in this world, care about yourself. Then… only then… you will be able to give  to others from a healthy and abundant place!

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

“Excuse me, But isn’t it rather selfish & unempathic to put m happiness first” Read More »

How to calm down the s#%t

blog by mrs.bimako

Retrain your brain for a calmer life

We live in fast-paced times.

You could say stress is part of our daily life! Everyone has to cope with it. And most of the time we master the challenges of everyday life with flying colours, don’t we?

But do you know those moments when you don’t know where your head is anymore and you have the feeling “this will never change. It will stay like this forever”. These are the moments when we have “just had enough”. Hand on heart: Does this sound like someone you know?

 If you feel so stressed-out that you are overwhelmed trying to cope, anxious or even panic about your to-do list… then take a closer look at the following 7 strategies to retrain your brain and learn how to handle stress better & stay calm under any kind of pressure.

Did you know? Stress & Pressure can put the body into “fight or flight” mode – an age-old tactic you probably have heard about. However, this evolutionary process releases hormones that prepare the body for either “fight or flight” mode, to get you ready to either fight or run from danger. In this day and age, our massive daily stress triggers these fight or flight hormones…. even when we are not faced with life-threatening situations. Okay, to us it may feel like our life depends on giving that presentation at work… I know situations like this… But let’s be honest… it’s not holding exactly the same amount of danger as facing a wild sabre-toothed tiger…. is it?

So if we often feel anxious or even panicky, it could be an indication that our fight or flight mode is probably triggered too easily. In this case, wouldn’t it be helpful  to learn how to calm yourself down when you’re entering this state?

7 tips
how you can calm down under any kind of pressure

TAKE A DEEP BREATH … OR TWO

Breathing deeply and slowly triggers the body to stop releasing stress hormones and start to relax. Focusing on your breath can also help to distract your mind from whatever is bothering you so that you focus only on what is happening at the present moment…either around you, nor inside of you.

A wise man once said: ” If you are in your head, you are dead”. Well, it’s a little bit dramatic… but you may see the point of truth in there. If we are not aware what’s happening around us and – instead- are wrapped up in our To-Do-Lists and worries, then we are only functioning… then we are not really living at all. 

Let’s start practicing how to be more present and focus on our breathing, right away. Here is a simple but very effective exercise:

Close your eyes. Relax your shoulders and your lower jaw! Breathe in deeply through your nose –  all the way into your belly and not just your chest. Hold for a moment and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Take a few minutes just to breathe deeply. Inhale – Exhale – Repeat.  After some time you should find yourself feeling much calmer.

If you like I have written down my “3 best practice tips to tap into the present moment easily”. Just click here to have a look at the little article.

GO FOR A WALK IN NATURE

Exercise is just as important as sleep when it comes to keeping stress in check and dealing with external pressure. Exercise prompts the body to release those “feel good” hormones that help you to clear your mind. 

If you’re under pressure at work, just five minutes of fresh air and a change of scenery could help you to feel calmer and gain a new perspective on the situation – you’ll probably realise it’s not a case of life or death anyway.

If you’d like to read more about the benefits of a “Walk Outside” click here to find out how a walk outside can boost your health AND your success.

 

PRACTISE GRATITUDE 

Staying grateful for everything you have in your life – no matter how small – can keep things in perspective and help you to maintain a positive attitude

Studies have shown that people who keep a daily gratitude journal have lower levels of cortisol – the hormone responsible for stress. Try taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write down 5 things you feel thankful for and see how much better it makes you feel.

Writing a gratitude journal may seem difficult at first, I know. Grap a free copy of my “Gratitude Log For Inner Peace” simply by clicking this link.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO VALUE YOU

You probably have a few people in your life who can make you feel stressed just by being around them. While it’s not always possible to cut these people out of your life entirely, when you’re under pressure try to spend more time with friends and family who are helpful, positive, and will lift you up rather than drag you down.

But most of all: allow yourself to be proud of yourself! Remember your strengths, your achievements and your worth.

GET PLENTY OF SLEEP

Let’s be honest: Everything seems worse when you’ve haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Stress and anxiety can often lead to insomnia so you end up in a vicious cycle – not being able to sleep and then feeling worse because you haven’t had enough sleep.

Make sleep a priority, especially if you’re under a lot of pressure. Create a sleep routine, that helps you to calm down. What about creating a spa like bedtime routine that helps you to relaxe? Probably you are the typ of person that enjoys guided meditations that help you to drift into sleep! OR you need a quick but exhausting yoga sequence to kick off our day.

Whatever it is that fits you most: Keep your mind clear and set an intention to have 8 hours of delicious sleep tonight. Unplug from all devices about 1 hour before you sleep.

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE

Always imagining the worst case in every scenario is clinically known as catastrophic thinking and can increase anxiety and feelings of panic.

Rather than dwelling on negative aspects or outcomes, try to spend a few moments thinking positively. If your bathroom has flooded and you have to replace all the flooring, for example, this could be a very stressful situation. Yet try to focus on the fact that it gives you the opportunity to update and renovate, and the repairs should be covered by your insurance.

Staying optimistic allows your brain to avoid stress and stay calm.

Are you struggling being positive? Are you facing negative self-talk? Wait a minute. I’ve got something for you: click here to grab a free copy of my “POSITIVE MINDSET CHEATSHEET”.

PAUSE AND MEDITATED

Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and influence your brain waves over time so you can manage your emotions better and stay calm when you need to most.

If you think meditation is all about sitting cross-legged for hours and chanting “om”, you couldn’t be further from the truth – even a few minutes of sitting quietly and concentrating on your breathing is a beneficial form of meditation. You can also try apps like Headspace or 7Mind.

Personally I love guided meditations. You can easily find quiet a lot on YouTube and choose the ones that fit your needs! Click this link, to get to a free “Guided Meditation To Relax Your Mind and Release Stress” by amazing Merissa Peer. Or listen to this one … it’s a guided meditation for relaxation, positive energy and creativity by Mindvalley.

 

 

You can’t control what life will throw at you next, but you can learn to cope with pressurised situations and deal with stress in a healthy way.

Making an effort to practise some of these strategies the next time you feel under pressure can help you to feel calm and able to deal with any situation.

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

How to calm down the s#%t Read More »

3 ways to tap into the present moment easily

In your daily life, do you find your mind wandering? ⁠

Are you often so caught up in checking your phone that you’re not engaging with your loved ones? ⁠

It can be difficult to be in the moment when you have a full schedule or other things on your mind. ⁠

But isn’t it so… all we have right now is the present moment. The past is gone and the future is unwritten. So instead of holding onto gone times or looking forward to the future, how about being thankful for the beauty of ‘right now’? If you are truly experiencing each moment of your day, doesn’t that seem to be the best way to spend your time wisely? ⁠

A wise man once said, “If you’re in your head, you’re dead.”  That sounds probably a little bit dramatic… but I’m sure you can see the point of truth in there. If you’re not enjoying what’s happening around you, and are instead wrapped up in your to-do lists and worries, then you’re not really living at all.⁠

However, there are many benefits to being present. ⁠

Practicing mindfulness can boost your memory, increase your focus, reduce stress, improve your emotional fitness, help you to make the best decisions at any given time and more!

So let’s start practicing how to be more present – right away.⁠

Today I am here to share my personal 

 “3 BEST PRACTICE TIPS TO TAP INTO THE PRESENT MOMENT EASILY“! ⁠

✨No.1✨
Focus on your breath

When you are present there is a certain stillness and centeredness inside. You calm down.
By focusing just on the in and out-breaths you connect to the present moment instead of the past or future scenarios that are stressing you.
Take some “belly breaths and just focus on them for a minute or two!

✨No.2✨
Focus on what’s right in front of you… Or on you.

Use your senses. Just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel. You can for instance use the summer sun or rain and how it feels on your skin to connect with the present.

✨TIP No.3✨
Pick up the vibe from present people.

If you know someone that is more present than most people then you can pick his/her vibe of presence (just like you can pick up positivity or enthusiasm from people)… It works!

If you don’t know someone like that, I recommend “Stillness Speaks” or “The Flowering of Consciousness” (both by Eckhardt Tolle). Listening to/watching cds/dvds work better for me when I wanna pick up someone’s vibe since the biggest part of communication is voice tonality and body language… but in general books works of course too!!

Being present in your life takes practice, and it can be difficult.

Especially at the beginning, it’s not realistic to be present every minute of the day! Don’t stress you about this! Let’s start with 15 minutes today.

You can start “being present”  whilst washing the dishes, meditating, journaling or doing enjoyable activities which do not require tech devices!  

I have a practice of walking in nature to help me be present in the moment. I also like activities such as cooking and baking to help me stay present. Reading hard copy books or even relaxing with a cup of coffee can ground me perfectly into the present moment, too!

So, what will you be doing to stay present today?

with all my love, Birgit

 If you’re still struggling to stay on task at work, or can’t give your family your undivided attention, perhaps it’s time you and I should have a conversation…

Did I missed out your best-practice to tap into the present moment? For sure, there are a few more ways to return to the present moment.

I would love to hear about your favorite way to tap into the present moment! Put it in the comments below… or click here to send me a message.

3 ways to tap into the present moment easily Read More »

how to write a journal for a better and even more productive SElf

How many times have rampant thoughts distracted you from your work? How many times have ideas popped in and popped out before you had a chance to capture them? Or maybe clarity has gone missing in action and you would like to find it again?

As a busy person, it is not uncommon for your mind to become overwhelmed trying to manage and process all the thoughts, the to-do list that is a mile long, the conversations had and the ideas that float in and out.

So what is a busy person meant to do with all the “stuff” that takes up valuable mental real estate? Write in a journal.

At first I was resistant. The thought of doing something that required what I believed to be work on my part turned my stomach. Not to mention, I had no clue what to write each day.

After about a week of journaling, I started to notice my mental clarity improve which ultimately lead to more productivity. And now after several years of using a writing journal, I look forward to it and if I skip a day, I really miss it.

In this article, I am going to share with you not only the benefits of a writing journal but also some simple ways to get started that won’t take up too much time, ways that positively impact your own mental clarity and that contribute to your productivity.

 

Why writing  a  journal matters …

Some of the busiest people I know complain about the same thing — the inability to turn off their brains; or worse, the inability to focus on the tasks at hand because of the high volume of thoughts and ideas they have.

Enter a writing journal. That journal is a safe place where you share your thoughts, your ideas, your questions and your concerns without interruption or the concern of another’s opinion or judgments. It’s a place to explore, pontificate and even complain.

In short, it is a great place for brain dumping so that you have the mental space to be more productive. But that is not the only benefit to a writing journal. Here are a few others:

It is a great way to have an “a-ha moment”.

Imagine you are in a conversation where all the sudden you hear yourself say something and a light bulb turns on. Writing in a journal serves that same purpose. With a journal, it is not uncommon that as you are capturing your thoughts, new awareness is being created.

For example, if I am struggling to find a solution to an issue, my journal provides me with the space I need to get the issue out of my head and onto paper. It’s not uncommon for questions to surface that I then answer; enter the clarity and a-ha moment.

It creates contentment and grounding.

Writing in a journal engages a form of mindfulness. It is the mindfulness that helps you to feel more grounded.

It diminishes the chaos.

Medical reviewers Paul Ballas and Maureen Fraser report,[2]

“Keeping a journal helps you establish order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. It helps you get to know yourself by revealing your innermost fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time, a time when you de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that’s relaxing and soothing—maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time, and know that you’re doing something good for your mind and body.”

It is a safe place to process and clear the air.

The things you stress over or worry about as well as any negative thoughts are similar to bacteria. When you keep them in the dark recesses of your mind, they grow.

By writing about them, you shine a light on them which causes them to shrink. Freeing up that valuable mental real estate to focus on something that is much more productive.

The same is true for anything or anyone that bothers you, whether that is the annoying co-worker, the argument with your partner, the project that went awry; it does not matter. If it is bothering you, it is worth journaling about to clear the air.

Not to mention, it gives you the opportunity to spot the lessons to be leveraged the next time someone or something annoys you.

It is good for your health.

Psychotherapist Maud Purcell in her article The Health Benefits of Journaling:[3]

“There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.”

It is a great tool for prioritizing.

A journal is a great place to capture all the things you want and need to do so that you can begin to prioritize and plan. Getting it all down on paper helps ensure that you are not missing anything important.

Not to mention, your journal is a great place to capture the wins, the steps you took with a project and any insights you gained. That way the next time a similar project or priority makes its way across your desk, you have a plan that you can recycle and re-use.

With the benefits in mind, are you ready to give a writing journal a whirl?

A step-by-step guide to start writing  a journal

Here is an easy to use step-by-step guide to help you get started:

What do you want to gain from a writing journal?

Getting clear around your purpose or objective for journaling sets a clear intention for your journaling. It is that clear intention that helps you to journal on a consistent basis in order to increase your productivity. (The operative word being “consistent”.)

Important Note: Make sure that your purpose or objective is one that resonants with you. For example, maybe it is a form of self-care, or maybe you want to map out your next business idea. Since feelings drive actions, if you feel good about the prospect of journaling, you are more apt to do it.

Electronic or paper journal? There is no right or wrong mode to use for journaling; it is whatever is going to be easiest and the most comfortable for you to use.

When I first started journaling, I picked out a really cool notebook and pen that I used only for journaling.

Today I use both an electronic and paper journal. I use the paper journal and colored pens for my gratitude journaling and morning pages. And I use Good Notes and my Apple Pencil (because I like the handwritten approach) for my bullet journaling where I capture my ideas, things I need to research and outlines for my projects. Important Note: Start out simple and small, even a piece of paper from loose leaf notebook works!

Whether that is at your kitchen table, a comfy chair in the corner of your living room or propped up on pillows in your bed, it is important to find a place where you feel comfortable writing. A place where you won’t be interrupted.

Mornings before you begin the day or at night before bed; whenever you have some free time in your schedule that you can take 5-10 minutes to write.

When I first started, I tried different times of day on for size until I found a time that consistently worked. I tried writing in between clients, I tried writing right before bed and I tried writing in the morning as a part of my morning ritual. Morning time became my favorite time to write because I was less distracted by the day’s events.

Give different times a try and see what works best for you.

Most importantly, do not worry about what to write. Worrying about what to write makes using a writing journal a task instead of a powerful tool.

You can even start out by writing “I don’t know what to write” and go from there. Let whatever is on your mind come out on the page.

Start journaling now!

For the next 30 days, commit to writing in a journal. Whether you use the stream of consciousness approach of morning pages or journal prompts to get the writing juices flowing, allow the next 30 days to be a time of self-discovery, increased productivity and clarity as a result of your journaling.

And as reminder:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Find a consistent time that works for you over the next 30 days.
  • Leave the perfectionism at the door and just let whatever is coming up, come out on the pages.

There is no right or wrong way to use a journal. The key is allowing it to be your assistant in creating more space in your brain so that you can be your most productive self.

If you feel lost on topics to journal about… here are some questions to help you on emotional self-care.

What made me feel good and inspired today?

Why did this activity made me feel good?

What did I discover about myself today?

What is my intention for tomorrow?

How do you want to show up tomorrow?

If you had a challenging day, I want to encourage you to still find one positive thing to focus on.

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

how to write a journal for a better and even more productive SElf Read More »

The Connection Between Mental Health and high performance

to go biking, cycle, heaven-5360648.jpg

One of the things I’ve been fascinated by over the past year is deepening my understanding of the link between state of mind, mental health, and high performance. I’ve had coaches and teachers I respect who say that there is no link and others who say that state of mind is everything.

So in today’s blog, I want to share what I’ve come to see for myself, over the past week…

Dr. Bill Pettit gave a fantastic talk at London 3PUK conference about the nature of mental health where he made the following bold statement:

“There is only one cause of all mental illness – chronic mental stress.”

As he went on to explain, our biology is designed to operate optimally with up to thirty minutes of heightened autonomic arousal (i.e. mental stress) every 48 – 72 hours. More than that and the body begins to compensate by switching off long-term survival features (like sex drive and the immune system) to focus its energy on essential functions for immediate survival.

He went on to explain that the variance in how chronic mental stress manifests in people is a product of thought and individual genetics. As the stress continues and more and more of our “peripheral” systems shut down, symptoms of numerous descriptions of mental unease may begin to emerge, and at a certain point a particular mental illness may be diagnosed.

Fortunately, this explanation came with two important and highly hopeful caveats:

The first is that when the stress stops, the mind and body’s recovery to full mental health can happen incredibly quickly and completely. We have an innate resilience that allows the system to reset and bounce back from any condition as good as new. (Or as Dr. Pettit put is somewhat more colloquially, “people have cork in their butts”.)

The second is that chronic mental stress is simply a function of over-attending to the everchanging thoughts that pass through our minds on a moment by moment basis. In other words, the problem isn’t that we think stressful thoughts – it’s that we listen to them obsessively as though we’re huddled around the radio with our family, listening for news updates from the front during World War II.

Since we live in the feeling of our thinking, constantly dwelling on our darkest thoughts can lead to living in some pretty dark feelings. And innocently and unwittingly, that intensity of feeling can seem to indicate that we need to pay even more attention to those thoughts. But in the same way as the uncomfortable feeling of touching a hot stove lets us know to move our hand, the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and stress are telling us to remove our attention from our obsessive thinking and make way for something new to come to mind.

High performance is a function of bandwidth – not positive thinking

At the „Understanding Human Mind“-Conference in Prague, Michael Neill shared an analogy of the mind as operating like a laptop hooked into a kind of universal internet. The universal internet (or Universal Mind) is the energy and intelligence of life coming through us and to us. Everything that appears on our screen is made up of the energy of Thought; what determines the ease of flow of Thought is the bandwidth of Consciousness. Consciousness is by nature infinite, but the range of that infinite potential we are awake to expands and contracts on a regular basis.

When our bandwidth is high, we can process information quickly and easily, handle multiple tasks simultaneously and efficiently, and our experience is one of ease and flow. When our bandwidth is low, everything slows down, nothing works quite as designed, and we experience a fair bit of mental “buffering” where we can’t quite get our head around where we left our keys let alone how to run a business, score a goal, or have a helpful conversation with our partners and children.

Within the analogy, there are two things worth knowing about bandwidth. The first is that we have no direct control over it – it expands and contracts on its own for all of us. The second is that the more we understand it as a critical performance variable, the less inclined we are to fill it up with lots of extra thinking, no matter how positive that thinking might be.

A similar but different analogy was shared at the conference by Lila Turner. In her work with teenagers on exam stress, she compared the amount of water in a water bottle as being analogous to the amount of thinking in your head relative to “head space” at any given moment. When she asked the kids how much “water was in their bottles” when they were doing something they loved, they consistently said about 1/3. When she asked how full their water bottles were during an exam, that number went up to 2/3; when they were actually studying for the exams the bottles were nearly full before they even began.

By waking up to the correlation between headspace/bandwidth/consciousness and the variable feelings of ease or difficulty we all feel in performance situations, we can see that while we won’t always be at our best, the less we fill up our heads with strategies for trying to be, the better we’ll tend to perform. While reflecting on these two insights into mental health and high performance over the past year, I’ve come to see that one of the “catchphrases” isn’t entirely accurate. While I used to say that “the less you have on your mind, the higher your level of performance and the better life gets”, a more helpful way of putting it is this:

The less you care what you have on your mind, the higher your level of performance and the better life gets.

Yours, Bimako

The Connection Between Mental Health and high performance Read More »

How to Have More Free Time (no matter how busy you think you are)

Think back to grade school.

Do you remember that delicious moment when the final bell would ring, marking the end of the school day? How you could not wait to race home to relax, or meet with friends at extracurriculum clubs or other activities?

As Children, we tend to have an almost tangible excitement about our free time – time dedicated to relaxation, hobbies or other activities we enjoy. But when school desk are replaced with work desk, our „free-time“ tends to become less about what we want to do and more about what we have to do.

Our society strongly values productivity… which can create a stigma around „free-time“. Of course, yes, as an adult, you have more responsibilities. But just because we grow up doesn’t mean we have grow out of Enjoyment.

But why do you might feel having a lack of free-time? Is it really the „to-less-free-time“-thing? Is it because we want to enjoy too much activities in one day? Is it because we are feeling guilty when we are not working?

Actually most of my clients do have „enough“ free-time. But they are experiencing the missing feeling of „being on leisure“. 

The reason is almost the same… and it happens to me either. 

As it turned out to be as simple as complex like it does in most cases: we got trapped in the treadmill of our own thinking!

As I mentioned it before: our society values productivity. But as this brought our modern society as far as it did… the same productivity brings a lot of pressure with it.

While I was raising my daughter on my own, I was feeling guilty at work, not being with my daughter… and was thinking about “work stuff” at home! But it didn’t stop there: as a modern working mom I “knew”  about the importance of self care. And let me be honest about this: it stressed me even more.

Let me give you another example: 

I once had a client who was spending most of his time “thinking about his biggest work challenges ”! What was even more shocking, however, was that when I spotted this out to him he shook his head sadly. “I know,” he said, a bit guiltily. “I should be putting in another 2 – 3 hours a day thinking about it if I ever really want to solve it, but I just don’t have the time.”

You see?

Spending hours trying to think your way out of your problems is like walking east looking for a sunset – no matter how smart you are and no matter how hard you’re willing to work, it’s never going to happen that way. You’ll just get caught up inside that problem so deeply, that you not only missing out your “NOW” (which is probably time with your kids and family), but also at one point you WILL loose your perspectives and end up “not seeing the forest for the trees” !!!

In fact: Overthinking is the most unproductive way to solve any kind of problem!

Today, when I got trapped in my thinking, I just do ONE thing:  I totally give up engaging myself on that problem. In fact what I actually DO in the moment I realize that I am overthinking on a problem, I take a deep breath, I clear my mind and I start getting “present”.

And after some time, when I have almost forgotten about that problem, the best idea on it comes from within me.

Did you ever have an experience like that? Maybe while having a shower… cleaning the dishes… or while scrolling through your Instagram feed at the toilet…(?)

Let me ask you a question: How do you clear muddy water in a bowl?

YES! YOU ARE ABSOLUTLY RIGHT: You let it rest.

After some time the mud will sink down.

Clear water remains on top so you can drink it!

This is the same Phenomenon that happens when you stop holding onto a problem and giving yourself a break.

In fact, studies show that „free-time“ is actually good for us – not only leisure time been related to a healthier immune system, reduces stress, and even increased longvity, it also helps you cultivate a richer sense of self and self-efficacy… which is your belief in yourself.

If you still need reasons why sometimes the most productive thing to do… is to take a BREAK… here comes 4:

#1…IT EMPOWERS YOU 

Free time, however, doesn’t have to take the shape of lying on the sofa on Netflix (no judgement if it does!). In fact, research shows that your free time is most beneficial when it is mentally engaging.

Leisure doesn’t mean lazy – it means engaging in an activity that you enjoy! Try spending your free time on activities like cooking, playing an instrument, doing a craft such as knitting… whatever speaks to you. It should be something you like that allows you to grow while you research. Need an extra bonus? The skill you develop out of interest can improve those skills you need for your job! (here is an example: more than 80% of employers say that creativity is important to them in the workplace!)

For those of us who are always „on the go“, the concept of „free time“ can really become a stressful feeling. If you have an Iceberg-Belief (a deeply held belief developed in young age… usually about how you should have or how the world should be) that you always have to be productive (because slowing down would be a sign of your weakness), it is hard to kick back and relax without feeling like you are wasting your time

#2 IT WILL ENERGIZE YOU

Have you ever heard about „EUSTRESS“? Positive-Psychology-Studies found out that leisure activities are accompanied by their own kind of „positive stress“ ( which is called „eustress“). It is a typ of stress that is stimulationg, engaging AND gets you into a state of flow (where you are so engrossed in what you are doing that you don’t even notice time passes).

As a result of eustress you are starting feeling motivated and energized.

So the next time you are feeling a lack of inspiration in your work, try getting the creative juices flowing by taking some time to play: Go for a walk or jog out in the sun. Sit in nature. Journal. Draw. Or dance to your favorite song. Refocusing your energy will allow you to what you were thinking about refreshed and with some new perspectives.

#3 IT REDUCES EMOTIONAL STRESS

Not only has leisure activity been proven to lower almost immediatly physical symptoms of stress as high blood pressure and heart rate – studies shown that it reduces emotional stress, too. When you are facing am obstacle, stepping out of routine has been found out to interrupt the cycle of unhealthy thoughts (those that can lead to overthinking and anxiety). The break in your usual thought patterns leads to more optimistic thinking, allowing you to reframe your thinking and clear your mind … before tackling the source of your stress.

So make leisure a priority at least once a week. Put down your To-Do-List and do something fun, spontanious, just for yourself. You will see your stress level subside in the long term!

#4 IT LEVEL-UP YOUR (REAL) SOCIAL NETWORK

Try swapping a solo activity for something more social, such as a cooking class, dance group, or book club. It will help you form a natural network around your interests, boosting your personal resilience in the process.

When you make the time to reach out and engage in activities that interest you, you meet others who have similar interests. And at the root of those shared interests? Shared values. Surrounding yourself with people you genuinely connect with leaves you feeling more supported and even more resilient. Having a solid social network buffers against stress and makes you feel more optimistic in the face of uncertainty.

When you invest in your leisure, you are investing in yourself.

Exploring your different interests outside of work is also a great way to remind yourself that it’s never too late to continue learning and try something new, which fosters a Growth-Mindset, rather than a fixed one—making you feel more resilient and capable of approaching situations with an open mind. You may even surprise yourself with what you are capable of, which is a sentiment to carry with you when you face new challenges on the horizon.

Enjoy your free time!

with all my love, Birgit

You got questions? Click this link and send me a message.

How to Have More Free Time (no matter how busy you think you are) Read More »

What We Are Really Afraid Of

 

I remember waking up by hearing my beloved daughter screaming in her bed in the middle of the night (at that time she was about 4 years old). I ran to her bedroom, relieved to see there was no immediate danger but still concerned about what frightenes her so much. She told me about the scary monster at the end of her bed. I looked around her room, but of course there was no scary monster. I looked again and than to my own surprise, there was indeed something that looked like a monster looming over. And just for a moment I saw what my little girl saw… and it was not a monster (of course not) but the shadow of something on the windowsill, brought to life by the moonlight which streamed through the window behind. And the moment I realized what the monster was made of, it totally disappeared for me. I recognized the monster was just a shadow. So for that I was not in need to do anythink to make it go away, it would dissapear the second the light would change by its own. But my little girl believed from the bottom of her heard that monster was real. She SAW the monster. She heard the monster. She smelled the monster. No matter what I said. No matter what I did. The monster was real in her world ! In her reality the only to survive was to hide under her bedsheets, calling me and hoping (!!!) the monster would eat me and leave her in peace (because after eating me, the monster „would be full“)! ( I am sure the list of problem solving strategies was in the beginning much longer… but somehow to immolate me to the monster must have been the best looking solution to her.)

The following night when my daughter screamed out loud at night, I bursted into her bedroom with a real weird costume including a hut made of aluminum foil and a noodlehz in one hand and a bottle filled with “monster-killing”-spray to face and kill that monster. And after a lond rough battle the monster left us defeated for all time. And so we lived happily ever after.

My point on this story is that that this monster was not real to me. I have an understanding about the nature of light and shadow. For that I knew that in the moment the light would change, the monster would transform or even dissapear completely! But in my daughters „world“ there was a hungry and scary monster willing to eat her! And it was 100% real to her.

So what occurs to me is that we are experiencing our own thinking about things. We are living in our own privat evaluation of things!

Let me give you another example: I live in Hamburg/Germany. And I love this city. I choosed to life here. I love this city full of life, the big culture scene, I love the mix of cultures, I love the air and the sound of the city. But there are days when I wake up in this city, and the whole city occures to me like the noisiest, dirtiest, smelly place in the world, filled with mad and stupied people. Do you See? Hamburg is the same every day…it doesn’t change that much over night But my evaluation does. And that is the only reason why this place seems to be the worst place of the whole world… and the next day it is paradise to me again. Just my thinking changed… and so my whole world.

So whether the monsters we face in our lives seems to be made of money, health challenges, realationships, work issues or even things that happens to us in the past, it is obviosly to ourself that the monsters are truly real. Because we are living in the feeling of our thinking… not the feeling of the world!

Looking back to many conversation (with myself and other people)

it either seems to me, that most time we are affraid of something we even cannot put into words… let’s call it the „UNKNOWN“. By definition “the unknown”, is simply something you have no information about and no control over. An example of this is the fear of the future! None of us know what the future looks like and how could something that even doesn’t excist yet be able to scare us? Most of us don’t let this future-fear-thinking get in our way. We plan and strive for the future we want without letting the uncertaunty holf us back. However there are other people… not knowing what the future holds is downright terrifying them. The uncertainty frightens them and they experiencing a state of hyperarousal ( a state of fear that continious to build up). The fear overwhelms the to the point, where they prefer to remain in their comfort zone.

Those people are not trabbed in the fear of the actual passing of time… what they are terrified of is their own thinking itself of a possible future that maybe will not turn out the way they want it to. In other words, we imagine futures where things go badly for us and everyone we care about, and we feel suitably scared each time we do. However, if you experiencing an intensive fear of the unknown, day-to-day life can be incredibly stressfull because of this constant fear. You may find it dufficult to function whenever you encounter something or someone unfamiliar! And because our thinking effects our nervous system you may experiencing one or more of these symtoms: dry mouth – shallow breathing – rapid heart rate – panic attacks at the though of the unknown – tense muscles – anxietx and a tendency to run away or avoid situations that force you to change your routine or face strangers. (By the way: your subconscious mind hates changes… your subconscious mind loves the known no matter how unhealthy, unproductiv or goal-killing itself is. Everything you are used to is SAFE, while everything new outside your ususally „comfort“ zone may causes death. Yes that is why changing routins is so hard, if you don’t know the trick on it).

Let’s play about this once more… Let’s have a simple thought experiment that you can try to put this to the test for yourself. It might scare you a bit, but I guess you’ll find it illuminating:

“It’s a pretty safe bet that at some point exactly one week from now, you will be having dinner. And even if your diet is relatively unvaried, what exactly you’ll be having for dinner is unknown.”.

How do you feel when you think about that?

Now: unless you’ve spent part of your life staving off starvation, not knowing what you’ll be eating in a week is unlikely to set off your internal alarm bells.

“But what if you started to imagine a global food supply crisis? And what if that crisis caused food shortages in supermarkets, and any food you had stored in your home went off?”

Man, I can feel my scary thoughts about THAT in my body!

What about you?

The obvious point here is: There’s no such thing as a solution to a feeling.

But if you see that your feeling is just an experience of your own thinking, the whole game changes fundamentally!

If we are aware of our experience of our own thoughs (of cause just in case there is no clear and present danger in that moment in our life!) in times we feel unfounded fear in our body, we are able to recognize this fear just as a symptom of our own imagination running amok. And because we see that it is just a thought in our head running mad, that means we don’t need to do anything about that.

Like you have been told when you ever attended at a Meditation-For-Beginners-Class or if you everr have been hypnotized : „Let the thought pass by. Don’t hold it.“.

Each one of your thoughts was brought to life by your own „consciousness mind“ . SO the only one who is able to decide what power this though has over you in your world is YOU! In just that moment we recognize fear for what it really is (a thought), we can decide to let it go by not foccussing on it anymore, it will fade into the background – like a television on over a bar or in the corner of a restaurant. Yes, we may not be able to change the channel, but it doesn’t need to occupy much of any of our attention. And from this diffrent state state of perspective , beeing in that relative calm and clarity (that we all have when we’re not caught up in our scary thinking), if there’s anything actually to be done to take care of ourselves, it will occure to us as generally obvious and relatively and therefore straightforward to implement.

With all my love, Birgit.

PS:

If you are experiencing such a thing as a longlasting thretening fear of the futurr I beg you to be brave and talk to someone you trust… it can be your best friend, a member of your church or a helping hotline. You also can contact me. You deserve a life filled with Happyness, love, success and respect.

What We Are Really Afraid Of Read More »