Feel even better – mindfulness and exercise

(Originally published on Blogspot)

If you read my blog ‘Feel better with mindfulness’ you may have tried mindful breathing for 5 or 10 minutes each day.

The chances are that there have been a few lapses and maybe you have given up or maybe you are carrying on. I hope this post inspires you to keep with it or just pick yourself up, accept you are human and try again if you lapsed a bit. I bet you felt better when you tried it.

Well – you can enjoy things even more and gain more wellbeing through having a focus to your life, such as a hobby or a sport. I am a great advocate of Steve Peters’ an amazing person who I have been lucky enough to meet and learn from. His book, The Chimp Paradox provides insight into human life and a set of tools that can lead to increased happiness for anyone.

john and karenSteve is probably most famous for his work with British Cycling and particularly in his involvement in the success of athletes such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, among many others and it is in sport that I see another route to recovery, personal development and fulfilment.

The picture is me and my friend Karen Darke, taken when I was a coach with British Cycling, coaching Karen as part of the London Paralympics 2012 Handcycle team.

Steve quite rightly identifies that for a humans to be happy they need a goal, this can be anything – as simple as getting the shopping for the day or as complex as calculating the trajectory of a space craft and managing the travel to a different planet. The keys seem to be that the goal captures our interest and is something we want to do.

For those of us with some sort of life difficulty, depression, anxiety, low self esteem, suicidal tendencies, food/weight obsession, exercise addiction – the goal can also provide a new focus, gradually taking over our negative focus to a positive.

In sport we have a perfect example, sport isn’t just a high level thing for talented athletes, it works at all levels – even trying to walk a mile can be a sport if it has a measurable goal and an aim to progression.

Sport provides a safe environment for goal setting, you don’t have to tell anyone, you can set clear goals and measure progress and make changes to your lifestyle to better your performance… and the key is that a lot of success in achieving the goals is dependent on how you think and how healthy you are. Being too fat or too thin hampers progress, negative thinking isn’t very helpful so you can look to make changes to all these things and see improvement in your performance that is measurable. Seeing progress is a great motivator. Best of all, exercise actually promotes a feeling of wellbeing both physically and mentally so by making this simple change you can’t fail to feel better.

My philosophy is that sport can provide a focus to help many of us feel better, I have many examples including myself, of those with serious life difficulties and I am going to work on this over coming months, promoting the idea and working with individuals to help them.

Get a Life – Freedom Through Sport is the motto – please let me know what you think.