Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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There are certain chemical cascades that occur when we’re stressed and burnt out, said Jim Rees aka the Emotional Intelligence Guru and Author of Vicious Cycle (www.theeiguru.com). “Through healthy habits and daily rituals, we can control whether we think ourselves into an early grave or not.” The first step, according to Jim, is “awareness”of our thinking, otherwise described as the six-inch game.
He explained: “In short, the six-inch game refers to the mental game that is going on all the time in the six inches between your temples. If we can get this right, we can create a healthy chemical cascade which could help us to have healthier relationships with our loved ones and everyone else we interact with as we go about our day.”
Jim continued: “It is easy for people to become fixated on worrying about aspects of their lives they have no control over, becoming stuck in old ways of thinking, causing them to be at dis-ease with themselves. This pattern of thinking will over time cause disease. There have been massive breakthroughs in Neuroscience which demonstrate the power of positive thinking and the impact it can have on our health and wellbeing.
“With this in mind, adopting simple healthy habits could help to extend your life expectancy, helping you to feel and think more positively. The challenge for most of us, is that it’s easier not to change. So as much as it’s easy to do, it’s easier not to. We’re creatures of habit, so when anything becomes difficult, we revert back to our old ways, which could be damaging to our health.
“There are certain skills and daily habits that can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, making you happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed, which can in turn extend your life expectancy and ward off some chronic health conditions.”
The following habits are said by Jim to be key:
1. Positive self-talk
Your self-talk or your internal dialog is a massive part of what is either helping or hindering you in everything you are looking to achieve, said Jim.
“Having a positive attitude or mindset versus a negative view of yourself can greatly impact your view of yourself and consequently the self-talk which unconsciously takes place in your mind.
“We all have greatness inside of us, but life events and relationships can condition us to believe otherwise which can breed negativity and be the catalyst for diseases and conditions which limit our life span.
“To combat this, make sure you engage in positive self-talk daily, focusing on the good instead of the bad and reminding yourself why you’re worth it. Mindfulness techniques can be especially helpful, giving you time to focus on the positives, a chance to reset and time with yourself each day to practice positive self-talk. Similarly, simple things like keeping a gratitude journal and writing down a list of things that have made us happy ends up reinforcing the positive chemicals flowing through our bodies.”
World class athletes use visualisation to mentally rehearse a favourable outcome, but for us mere mortals we tend not to use this powerful strategy to help us achieve our goals.
Jim said: “There are a few ways you can incorporate visualisation into healthy, daily habits which can elongate your lifespan. For example, when you wake up, instead of hitting the snooze button, take a few minutes to visualise your day ahead and what you want to get out of it.
“Make a plan and imagine yourself sticking to it. This positivity first thing in the morning can change the path of your day and put you in a good mood from the offset, making you feel more able to deal with the challenges or stress that the day could bring. Any down time you have throughout your day can be used for visualisation. So, if it’s a few short minutes during your commute, or on a lunchtime walk, make time to visualise what you want to achieve and you’ll be half way there.”
3. Make time to understand that E+R=O
One of the big life hacks which can help to build healthy habits is to understand E+R=O, Experience + Response = Outcome.
Jim explained: “We are bombarded with experiences whilst we are awake, a rude person, a traffic jam, feedback from our boss, or just not getting the result you were hoping for. Realising that we have very little control over these experiences is crucial, as is focusing on the things we do have control over. If you can master this model, it can transform your life and prevent you from worrying about stuff that is completely out of your control.
“Relinquishing control over the things we cannot control will help you to lead a more stress-free life, embracing the good times instead of dwelling on the negatives. It sounds simple and yet it’s the simple things that really do work when you apply them consistently and form new habits. To put this mindset into action, you could write yourself a list of all of the things that really upset or wind you up, causing you stress and disappointment and then apply E+R=O. The interesting thing is that almost always this list will be predictable and it’s more about how you respond to life’s curve balls.”
4. Slow down
So many of us live life in the fast lane, juggling work, family and a social life which can take its toll on your health and wellbeing.
Being fully present is a daily habit which can pay dividends when it comes to enjoying and elongating your life.
Jim said: “Huge insights have become available via all the research that has been conducted in the Neuroscience world. For example, we know that exercise helps us manage our stress levels along with the cardio protective aspects of being fitter. Creating a daily ritual of going out for a walk and enjoying nature will have a positive impact on your state of mind and trigger more serotonin and oxytocin, the happy chemicals flowing through your body.”
5. Do things which make you happy
“In my coaching experience,” said Jim, “Most people are putting off their happiness for a future time when things have been achieved, that’s chasing happiness instead of being happy now.”
He added: “Taking up a habit of doing things which you enjoy and make you happy is a brilliant way to both enjoy your life and help you possibly live longer. To get the most out of this, it’s also important to have a think about the things or habits which may be making you unhappy.
“For example, mindlessly scrolling through social media and unconsciously comparing yourself to others. Often, step one of doing things which make you happy is putting down a digital device, which can instantly also help you to be more present in the moment.”
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