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KNOW YOUR BODY, KNOW YOUR MIND

KNOW YOUR BODY, KNOW YOUR MIND

This is a transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.

Episode Three: Know Your Body, Know Your Mind                

Welcome everybody to episode three of Live the 8Wise™ Way, the method for developing better mental health and wellbeing so you can have a healthier, happier mind and a better quality of life. Doesn’t that sound fabulous and something that we should all want to have. For those of you who don’t know, my name is Kim Rutherford and I’m a psychotherapist currently based in Liverpool in the UK. I am also an author. I’ve written five books, all 8Wise links so if you want to know more about them, it starts with 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, we have the 8Wise™ 12-week journal, we have the 8Wise™ 12-month planner and we have the 8Wise™ pocketbook as well.

So if you are wanting to follow along with this podcast with any of the books so you can make it a tangible program for yourself with very specific outcomes and learning outcomes for yourself, then you can purchase any of those books either at any online bookstore, pretty much anywhere that sells books online you can get those books from, and you can also get them directly from me at my website, which is www.8wise.co.uk.

As I said, my name is Kim Rutherford, I am a psychotherapist, so everything I’m sharing with you is what I share with my clients in our one-to-one sessions in my private practice, but also in my training courses that I deliver to lots of different organizations across the UK and obviously I’m clearly now a podcast host as well. How cool is that. I never thought my life would go in this direction and what we are talking about on this podcast is Living the 8Wise™ Way, how to Live the 8Wise™ Way in order to really much look after yourself and look after your mental health and wellbeing for the rest of your life.

I always say that, ultimately, the stat is always saying one in four of us will experience a mental health issue within any given 12-month period. That is a scary enough statistic as it is, which means there’s a lot of people globally who are experiencing mental health issues right now, as we speak. Maybe you are one of them, but it also means that three in four people are at risk of developing a mental health issue and it’s important for us to learn how to implement a recovery model if we’re experiencing mental health issues, as well as a prevention model so we can look after our wellbeing and try and prevent those mental health issues from escalating or staying for us too long.

That’s why I wrote 8Wise™, that’s why I developed 8Wise™. It’s why I created the model to provide you with a framework that you can have the tools and techniques, pretty much a guide for the rest of your life, on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing and today, episode three, we are talking about know your body, know your mind.

We are talking about the second element of the foundation dimension of the 8Wise™ model. Today we are talking about physical wellness. Now, if you are one of those people who is following along with this, and you’ve listened to the other episodes already and you want to know when the new episodes come up, then I highly recommend you click that subscribe button and then you’ll be reminded every single time a new episode comes out and you’ll just access it easily.

If you are wanting to follow along with this, as I said you can access the books from the places that I’ve talked about, and this particular episode will be covered on, I think it is page 109 in the book and then also page 251 for all your tips as well. For any of the exercises and activities that are in the books, if you would like to have word versions of them, then head over to my website www.8wise.co.uk and have a look at the download tab and you’ll see lots of free downloads of all of those tools in there so you can download them as much as you want. So, I hope everything’s going well with you. I hope everything’s going great. Last time we covered emotional wellness and by now, if you are following along, I hope you’ve gone and done your evaluation.

Today we are talking about physical wellness and if you have done your evaluation on physical wellness and you are anything from a one to a five, then again, I highly recommend that you spend some time listening to this episode and read the book and get access to those free resources and help to boost your physical wellness because, as we discussed previously, your emotional wellness and your physical wellness are very much interlinked. What we experience mentally, we experience physically and what we experience physically, we experience mentally and if you want to have a really good solid foundation of health, whether that be mental health or physical health, then you need to get your physical wellness on track as well.

So, where do we start with physical wellness? I wish I could try and make this really sexy for you and really shock you with what I’m going to say but this is probably the most common sense of all of the elements. It is basically about get your rest, get your sleep in, have a good balanced, nutritional diet, stay hydrated, make sure that you are able to move and have good fitness and that you are keeping an eye on your health checks. Ultimately, that is what your physical wellness is all about. It is about looking after your body so that your body can help you look after your mind. Now, when it comes to physical wellness, one of the most important elements to it, one of the important parts of it, is your sleep pattern and your ability to rest and relax.

I work with many, many clients, and one of the very first questions I will ask them is what is your current sleep pattern like? If somebody explains to me that their sleep is not great, then that’s where we focus. That is the immediate focus because the reality of it is, if we don’t get rest and we don’t get good quality sleep, then our body and our mind can’t function effectively anyway. So, it is pointless from my perspective us doing lots of work on lots of other areas, when actually you won’t be able to get the cognitive function, you need to improve in the other areas. So, we really do need to make sure that the sleep patterns are well. We need to have a think of that for yourself. Have a think about what your sleep is really like. Are you somebody who, I’m jealous of you if you are this person, are you that person whose head hits the pillow, you are out like a light and you don’t wake up until the next day. If you are that person, do you know what, get on social media and let me know you are that person. I want to meet people like that. I am jealous of you if you are one of those people.

When it comes to thinking about your physical wellness and your sleep patterns, it’s really important to be able to identify the basics of your sleep for yourself. So, number one, do you relax enough before going to bed so that you are able to relax, you will find it really difficult to enter into sleep if your body doesn’t relax and your mind doesn’t relax as well. It’s that concept of you need to relax all your muscles, which then allows your minds to relax, which then means that your brainwaves are able to move through the process towards sleep for you. When you’re in sleep, you are then able to go through the core sleep cycles.

If you want to understand your sleep cycles in a bit more detail, then head to page 113 in the book where those sleep cycles are outlined in a lot more detail. Some people who are extremely stressed and anxious will find that their sleep patterns are very irregular. It might be that you struggle to get to sleep. It might be that you don’t struggle to get to sleep, but you wake up throughout the night and then struggle to get back to sleep or you might find that you just have insomnia full stop and you can’t sleep in any way, shape or form. What that’s telling you is that you need to be doing some work to focus on your sleep.

If your insomnia is extremely bad and it’s gone on for quite some time, we are all going to have bouts of insomnia from time to time, one night isn’t going to kill you but if you find that it’s two nights, three nights, four nights, and a few weeks, then that needs to be spoken to the doctor about, and you need to get some extra support with that if you possibly can. I personally went through a very bad period of a lot of insomnia. It is horrific. My condolences and sympathies are with you if you are somebody who is currently suffering with insomnia and I do recommend that you get some additional help with that if you possibly can. But if you are that person who struggles to get to sleep, then there are some basic tools and tips that you can do and, one that I find is probably one of the best one for me, I would call it a mindfulness exercise. It starts off, you can do this with yourselves now, if you just place your hand on your tummy and take a big deep breath in to the extent where your stomach inflates as if it’s like a big balloon, so deeply breathe in through your nose and feel your tummy just inflate like that big balloon. When it’s fully inflated, then just breathe out through your nose again and let that balloon deflate so you feel your tummy go flat. This is what we call a deep breath, and it’s a really good starting point for regulating your breathing. Try that three times to start with, and now what we want to do is start to relax your mind a little bit and the way I do this is I incorporate numbers. So, with that breathing concept, you don’t have to go to such a deep breath but focusing on your breathing with breathing in through the nose and out through the nose. What I want you to do is take a breath in and when you breathe in, in your mind count one and then when you’re breathing out, breathe out through your nose again, and count two, then take another breath in at count of three and then out again at count of four. I want you to repeat that until you get to the count of 10. When you get to 10, go right back to number one and start that process of in and out, always in through the nose and out through the nose and counting from one to 10 in your mind, it’s always the odd numbers as you breathe in and it’s the even numbers as you breathe out and this is a really good, mindful breathing activity. The reason that we use the numbers, it’s a little bit like if you’ve ever heard the concept of counting sheep, when we start thinking of numbers, it actually gives us a focus point, but it also switches to a slightly different part of the brain, which means that if you are highly stressed or feeling highly anxious, it helps to switch off the amygdala that’s causing that fight flight process. So if we can switch off the amygdala and give ourselves a focus elsewhere, we can start to bring down all of those different hormones that are causing us problems, and we can start entering into a form of relaxation. That’s a really good activity for you to do if you’re struggling with sleep and you need to calm down or switch your brain off, if you are an overthinker and you need to be able to relax the mind to stop the overthinking or if you are having an anxiety moment, or if you’re having a panic attack, it’s a really good activity to do all of those. What we’re doing is we’re using breathwork, it’s physical and we’re using a different part of the brain, which is also physical in order to make changes to how we are feeling and behaving in that moment and as I said, that helps you to relax. If we can relax, then we can get sleep and if we can get good sleep, then we can get the correct amount of rest that the human body needs to be at its best and to function really well. So again, as I said, if sleep is an issue for you, then I do highly recommend that you look to rectify that sooner rather than later. A sleep diary is a really good starting point with that. It’s to just really monitor what your sleep is like and see what it’s like over a week or over a two-week period, have a look at what your habits are around your sleep. Are you on your phone just before you go to sleep, is it the first thing you do in the morning, maybe you want to tweak some of those habits, but ultimately if sleep is an issue for you, you definitely need to focus on your sleep otherwise you are not going to get to that level of physical health and mental health that you really want to achieve through this process.

Now, the second most important element of physical wellness when it comes to this is nutrition and hydration. At the end of the day, having the right nutrition in our bodies is what fuels our bodies and if our bodies are not fuelled effectively, then the processes that take place within the body, within all the different organs and all the different functionalities cannot do what they’re supposed to do. This isn’t me being boring and saying don’t ever eat pizza, have pizza, have all of the things that you love, but make sure that your balanced nutrition, your regular nutrition, is coming from those good whole foods, those balanced whole foods. That way you are fuelling your body with what it needs, and if you fuel your body with what it needs, then it finds that it’s easier to process the foods that aren’t so great for your body and those foods won’t have as much of a dramatic effect as they have when they seem to be the main food intake. So if you are somebody who’s eating a lot of processed foods, then ideally you want to reduce that as much as you can moving towards whole foods so that is better nutrition for you in general.

Now, I’m talking from personal experience with this one, I really, really am. I explained to you in a previous episode that one of my coping mechanisms for emotions was overeating and I was definitely a food addict and, for me, having to learn to eat the whole foods and focusing more on nutrition and not focusing so much on diet culture and focusing more on healthy eating and healthy food and balanced plate culture, that’s definitely helped resolve some of the anxieties I had around food and definitely some of my dysfunctional eating patterns around food as well, which gives me a much clearer head. On top of that, I’ve really had to focus on my fluid intake as well.

So when we are highly stressed, what tends to happen is all of the fluids drain from our brain and they go to different parts of our bodies in order to get our bodies functioning so if you’re in fight mode, everything needs to go to your muscles to get you pumped up, ready to fight off whatever situation you’re in and if you’re in flight mode, everything then moves to your stomach area that we call the gut area, the second brain of the human body, where it then helps to offload all of that to make you as light as possible, which is why you feel nauseous, or you might need to go to the toilet a lot more. What happens, because all of those fluids are drained from our brain, our brains become really dehydrated and so keeping our fluid intake up is a really good way of making sure that our brain can restore itself after those surges of stress, if and when needed. So, I know it sounds like the boring stuff, but keep an eye on your diet people, keep an eye on it. Still have your pizza, still have your chocolate, you don’t want life to be miserable, but if you can try and make the bulk of your diet highly nutritious, then you are going to be a lot physically healthier. I know this is stuff you did know. I know that you did know it because it’s drilled into us every single day, we just tend to choose to ignore it a little bit. I know I certainly did.

So shockingly enough, after nutrition comes the next big one, the one that we all know about, and this is our exercise regime and I think sometimes the concept of exercise, the way that the wellness market sells it to us can make it really scary and we can feel like we’re failing an awful lot if we’re not maintaining all of these brilliant exercise programs that are thrown out at us. When the reality is, when it comes to healthy body, healthy mind we need to focus on fitness. Fitness to the extent that it keeps our heart healthy and keeps our body functioning. We really need to be looking at fitness from the perspective of mobility and flexibility so that throughout our ages, and as we get older, we’re able to still manoeuvre. We’re able to still move, all of our joints can work, all of the functionality stays there because if we can keep functioning physically for as long as possible, then we are going to be healthier into old age. It’s only when we stop and we slow down, that suddenly our body gets more aches and pains. Now, don’t get me wrong, just because you go out walking every day doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get ailments in later life, but to be able to stay mobile and flexible for as long as possible will definitely mean that you have a better experience and a better quality of life as you get older as well.

So when it comes to your physical wellness, when you’ve learnt how to get a good level of sleep and effective sleep and when you’ve managed to develop strategies for getting the best rest that you can get using as many different activities as you possibly can, then you know what to eat. Now, you know to eat a healthy, nutritious diet, get your greens in, get your rainbow on a plate, get good carbohydrates in, get good proteins in, get lots of fibre in, reduce the bad sugars, reduce the processed foods, make sure that you are hydrated all the time, be able to move, be able to be physically mobile and flexible and if you want to push it a little bit further you do those hardcore exercises. They are all things that actually look after your body and that’s what we would call ‘living in the moment’ to prevent the longer-term issues.

But now we’ve got to start looking at how do we bring that prevention in when it comes to physical wellness and a lot of this comes from wanting to do, and I say wanting to do, those health checks and making sure we are keeping up to speed with those health checks. So, one of those things, when it comes to health checks, is a lot of the time we put off health checks, sometimes because we think we can’t get the time off work, it’s too much hassle to take the time off, sometimes because we’re scared of finding out what might be there and other times because we think we’ll wait until it happens or something happens and then we’ll be able to sort it out from there.

The situation you’ve got then is it’s a very reactive process to your health and our bodies are really clever and they’re really smart and what they do, just like our emotions, they provide us with signs and symptoms, letting us know that something isn’t quite right and that our life and our body, or our physical body, is moving into a certain direction and we really need to learn to pay attention to those signs and those symptoms so that we can get checked up and prevent things from being worst case scenario and be best case scenario, or even not a case scenario at all, because we’ve prevented something from happening.

So really have a think about all of the different health checks you need to do. Whether that be eyes, ears, nose, teeth with the dentist, sexual bits and pieces, full body health checks. How often do you get them, and I know within the UK obviously we tend to go to the NHS mainly when we have experienced a problem, but there are ways that you can now do other things as well, you can go privately, you can pay to go privately, but there’s lots of people out there who are doing lots of wellness and wellbeing support with regards to health and it is definitely worth looking into those and learning some of the checks that you can do at home. So, for example, being able to check for lumps and bumps and doing that regularly is really, really important. Checking in with yourself head to toe on a physical level regularly and learning to understand when your body feels different, when your skin is different, when your muscles are different, understanding it so that you can be ahead of the game rather than waiting for something to happen. It’s really important and it is surprising how many people don’t go and get their health checks. I mean, think about it for yourself, are you that person who goes and gets your teeth checked regularly, are you in there every six months or are you a case of, ‘oh I can’t get an appointment outside of work hours, so I’m just not going to do it’, are you that person that has missed different appointments with your doctor because you put it off for weeks and weeks and weeks mainly because you might be a little bit scared of what they’re going to say, or you don’t think it’s anything big. You hear that a lot, ‘I don’t think it’s anything, it’s just a cold, it’s nothing big’. I always think, I don’t know let’s let the professionals make that decision for us rather us making an assumption. Maybe it’s best to sometimes work with the logical part of our brain. Use that wise mindset and go and get the information from the people who actually might know.

I say this with regards to therapy as well. Sometimes when we’re struggling, we think that nobody can help us. Why not invest in therapy, even one session might change you and make you feel a lot better. So always go to the people who have the skill sets, they’re the specialists, they’re the people who can tell you and help you in those moments with more accurate information than the assumptions that we make about ourselves.

But it is really important from a physical wellness perspective to really put time and effort into these core areas, focus on your sleep and focus on your ability to rest. Rest and relaxation is really important. Having hobbies that help you rest and relax is really important. That good nutrition and that hydration is really important. At the end of the day, it’s not going to kill you to go out and have a good time and eat your pizza and eat your chocolate and have a drink every now and then. That’s not going to be bad for you if you’re not doing it every single day, but it’s really important to keep an eye on some of those dysfunctional coping mechanisms that we introduce into our lives that can damage our physical wellness. So as I mentioned in the previous episode, we’re talking about drink, we’re talking about drugs, we’re talking about overeating, binge eating, those kind of things. These dysfunctional coping mechanisms for the stress and the stressful emotions we’re experiencing that numb the pain but causes issues in other areas. So really become aware of that for yourself and really check in and what I recommend today is you list all the different health checks that you know are available to you and make sure you’ve got them booked in, or you’ve had them recently. At the end of the day, we put our car through an mot every year to make sure that it’s still functioning on the road and that we are safe when we are in that car functioning on the road. We should do the same with our bodies. Make sure on a monthly basis you are doing that head to toe check on absolutely everything.

People ask me a lot with regards to what type of exercise should I do and I would say at the basis if you’re not wanting to become an athlete, if you’re not wanting sport to become a major hobby for you, then you don’t need to be pushing yourself to those extremes and in fact, sometimes pushing yourself to those extremes can create more stress on the body, which then can have worse case scenario impact on you as well. So it’s about finding the exercises that work for you.

I had a client recently who said to me, I absolutely hate yoga, but I do yoga every day because the world is telling me yoga is good for me. I’m like, let’s have a look at this. You hate doing yoga, how do you feel before you go to do yoga? They were saying they have that anxious moment of ‘I’m not going to enjoy this, I get angry, I get frustrated, it’s not enjoyable’. Why do it then? Why do it because some magazine tells us so, or a book tells us so, or all of these different people tell us it’s good for us. Yes, it is good for us if it’s the right thing for us, but it’s understanding why something like yoga is good for us. It’s good from a mobility perspective, it moves and its fluid, it’s slower and it’s softer so it’s not such a big, heavy impact on us. It helps us to regulate our breathing and all of that put together provides us with a mindfulness process, an activity that is good for the mind and for the body but there are other activities out there that do those things as well. Swimming is one, for example. Swimming stretches the body, helps with mobility, helps with flexibility, helps with breathing, helps with mindfulness. Tai Chi is another one. So there’s lots of different things out there so don’t be scared to try and find alternatives that still bring you what you need in your life and the key is that it provides you with some form of fitness, so some form of heart health, and it also provides you with some strengths. It builds some muscle for you, that it helps with some flexibility and it helps with your mobility. The common one is start with your 10,000 steps a day, get out and about and build from there but don’t be scared of exercise, you don’t have to become a gym bunny if you don’t want to. One of the things I hear an awful lot from different people is exercise is the answer to mental health issues, and what I put back at you, if that was the case, if it was the answer to everything, people who go the gym and who are dedicated to sport and are dedicated to exercise would never experience a mental health issue and that simply is not the case.

So you’ve got to think about 8Wise™ is helping you, Living the 8Wise™ Way is about developing a tool belt of the unique tools and techniques that help you live the 8Wise™ Way, that help you develop better mental health and wellbeing, that help you develop a healthier, happier mind and better quality of life.

There is no one size fits all on this planet. It’s about you finding your way. If yoga isn’t it, find something else. If being a vegan isn’t it, find something else, it’s about you. It’s about you taking charge and saying ‘this is what is good for my body, I know that it’s good for my body because I’ve spent time with myself, I understand my body, I understand how it functions, how it moves, how it feels when it’s not rested well, I know myself well enough to know when I need to get support, when I need to get help and the best types of exercise and activity and food that is good for my body’. So definitely after today, I would say that monitor what your activity levels are like. Only you know if they’re right where they need to be for the life you want to live, but have a look at them. Do they incorporate that flexibility, do they incorporate mobility, do they incorporate fitness and do they incorporate strength as well and if they do, my friends you are onto a winner and if they don’t, well, you know what that you’ve got to work on them. Nice and simple.

So focus on your sleep, focus on your rest, focus on your nutrition, get your hydration in, get your fitness where it needs to be, your exercise and activities and make sure immediately you go and book all of those health check.

Physical wellness has a direct impact on everything else that we do. Physical wellness has a direct impact on our emotional wellness and that’s why the two of them go hand in hand with regards to the foundation dimension of the 8Wise™ model. So if you really want to learn to Live the 8Wise™ Way for the rest of your life for a healthy body, healthy mind, better mental health and wellbeing, then you really need to look at ‘am I looking after my health mentally and physically as well as I can’ and you can do that by looking at those four core areas. Also, by looking after your physical wellness, you will naturally develop the best tools to help you reduce your stress levels and reducing your stress levels is a really good way and a good focus point for preventing mental health issues or helping you recover from mental health problems.

So they’re not the only answer, but they are very strong in helping you so you definitely want to put your physical wellness elements and your emotional wellness elements in that tool belt that you are creating for yourself that helps you Live the 8Wise™ Way and as I said, if you want to know more about those elements, then you can get the book and head to the book and page 109 covers the topic, page 113 covers the sleep cycles in a lot more detail and 251 covers the tips and techniques to help you improve your physical wellness and live a healthier, happier life with better mental health and wellbeing. That’s what we call Living the 8Wise™ Way.

So that, in itself, we’ve now covered the first two elements. The foundation dimension is now covered. It is healthy body, healthy mind, good framework for everything else you need to do. So now we are ready to move on to the next element, which is what we will cover in our next episode when we start moving towards our spiritual wellness and looking towards our internal dimension and knowing who we are a bit better.

So thank you for listening to this episode. I hope you have found it useful and beneficial, and I hope you are starting to understand your different 8Wise™ elements and what you need to improve and how you’re going to improve them. If you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend that you press that subscribe button and then you will get notified every single time a new episode comes out and that way you can help get prepped by finding your book and knowing where you are in the book and start working alongside the whole podcast episode with me so that you can start developing better mental health and wellbeing in the areas you know you need to focus on. As I’ve said before, if you would like to get a copy of the book and you haven’t done it yet, head to my website which is www.8wise.co.uk and in there you will find a lot of free downloads linked to the book. So you don’t have to write in the book if you don’t want to, you can actually get the free downloads and you will also get the free evaluations for each of the core elements so you can start to identify your current baseline level, know which areas you need to develop and be able to start moving forward, Living the 8Wise™ Way for better mental health and wellbeing.

So thanks for joining me and I look forward to chatting to you again in our next episode. Take care and bye for now.

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