The Power of Movement: How to Engineer a Sharp and Clear Mind (mental health care)


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Today at a Glance

The power of movement, movement, mental health, mental health care

Last year I was having one of those days when the glass looked half empty.

Problems were all over my mind. I was pessimistic about the decisions I made in my past and the ones I made for the future. Our business is not doing well. We live in a foreign country but have no idea where to go next.

Overwhelmed by the challenges to come, I was seeing with outstanding clarity how all the things I envisioned for the future could go wrong.

My mind was scattered, yet my body was still

Overthinking was my middle name for the longest time. I could sit there for hours going in circles in my head but getting nowhere. I realized I hadn’t moved physically — stuck in my chair for the last hour or so. Also, I had been inside for a long time, I hadn’t gone out of my apartment for a while.

When my day is meh and things don’t look fantastic, it’s harder to find the motivation to move. When my day is blurry, even a simple act like going for a walk becomes a little more complicated. I call these the “small challenges that make up daily life”. Especially when working from home.

Yet, I somehow found the courage and energy to go out. I got off the ugly chair, changed my outfit, and went out for a walk and some outdoor exercise despite the blah day.

Life looked so different

As soon as I got moving, my thoughts started colliding in my brain like a wild rollercoaster ride. The worries and pessimistic views didn’t vanish in an instant, but they flowed like my mind was a river, with my thoughts and feelings as little boats, and the strength of the current gradually increased to the beat of my steps.

Then I shift my focus solely on the movement and the bodily sensations. I move mindfully — fully anchored in the present moment.

My mind clears up like a blue sky opening on a cloudy day.

My perspectives transformed. Just by the act of movement, of going out to nature, of letting my thoughts and feelings freely pass by.

I had the same problems to solve and worries to deal with as when I started moving. Yet, going for that dose of body motion and contact with the outside changed my attitude towards them. Body movement and the outside refreshed my mind and provided me with fresh lenses.

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, but it is also the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."

Why Movement is Mental Health Medicine

Science has shown that people who are more physically active are happier, have more meaningful lives, have better relationships, experience more positive emotions, and deal with depression and anxiety better!

Every time we move our body, we are giving our body and brain a dose of happiness and health. We are investing in a sharp, clear mind while building a strong and agile body.

Here are some of the benefits for the body and brain:

For the body:

  • Regular exercise creates a strong heart by increasing blood circulation and strengthening the cardiovascular system.
  • When we exercise against resistance our bones get denser and we maintain (or build) muscle mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and frailty.
  • It helps us shed those extra pounds by torching calories and revving up our metabolism.
  • We sleep better and feel reenergized in the morning — ready to take on the day.

For the mind:

  • Movement and exercise trigger the release of endorphins, which flush out stress hormones and promote a greater sense of well-being.
  • When we get physically active we produce serotonin and dopamine (the happy hormone). Hello, good mood and good bye depression and anxiety.
  • Our brains begin to function better. We can remember things better, become fully focused and concentrated, and solve problems with ease.

For the heart:

  • When we practice mindful movement, we strengthen the mind-body connection. We build our self-awareness and emotional well-being muscles.
  • Regular physical activity not only enhances the body’s ability to respond to stress and recover more efficiently. It also strengthens our mental and emotional resilience, making us more flexible and agile.
  • Our energy levels skyrocket and we reduce feelings of fatigue. We feel like we can take on the world and the life force itself is pulsating within us.

Those benefits are all great.

But hey, often it’s not easy to start if you don’t know what to do, right?

No worries. We got you…

How to Get Started to Leverage the Power of Movement

Mindful Walking Exercise

Step out the door, close it behind you, and stand still for a moment. Bring your awareness to your posture. Stand tall, yet relaxed, with your hands either clasped in front of you or hanging loosely by your sides.

Take a few deep slow breaths. Bringing your attention to the present moment. Feel the sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale.

Set a clear intention for your mindful walk. I suggest using phrases like “I arrive” with each step.

Begin to walk slowly and deliberately. As you take each step, be fully present with the experience. Feel the contact of your foot with the ground, the shifting of your weight, and the movement of your body.

Coordinate your steps with your breath. For example, you might take one step with each inhale and one step with each exhale. This synchronizes your breath and steps, anchoring you in the present.

I like to walk with awareness and purpose.

Open your awareness to the environment around you. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells as you continue to walk. You will notice things you never noticed before. Let these sensory experiences deepen your connection to the present.

If your mind starts to wander or if you become distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breath and the act of walking. Each step is an opportunity to return to the present moment.

Bonus opportunity:
As you walk, cultivate a sense of gratitude. Appreciate the simple joy of walking, the miracle of being alive, and the interconnectedness of all things.

That’s it for today.

Hope you enjoyed it (and learned something new).

What’s going on in our world

Two weeks ago, Markus returned to Germany (near the Alps) to spend time with his family, while Ketty is back at the foot of Mt. Etna, the largest volcano in Europe. This marks another significant change after spending the previous 6 weeks at the Mediterranean Sea.

The impact in terms of physical energy is quite significant, both due to the change in season and the overall environment. The amount of sunshine we absorbed during our slow nomading in Mexico and the weeks at the seaside was substantial compared to the current situation.

We are now striving to maintain sufficient sun exposure through natural sunlight and also through “artificial sun” — a light therapy lamp.

We’re curious to know how you’re feeling during this transition period leading up to winter. You can always answer to this email, dropping us a message.

As always, stay fit, stay active, and enjoy your life.

Ketty & Markus

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