How often do you feel mentally foggy, emotionally stressed, and/or physically lethargic? In this article, you'll learn how to instantly clear your mind, while boosting your energy and brain function.
I went downstairs to my teenage son's lair the other day and found him intently slouched in front of the Xbox. He had been down there for a couple hours. When I asked him how he was doing, he returned a lethargic mumble. Xbox is one of his favorite activities, and I love that he can play online with his friends, strategize, problem solve, and have fun.
However, too much time sitting and playing Xbox makes his brain dull and his body lethargic.
We have a deal with him that he can play Xbox as long as he goes to Kung Fu at least 3 times a week. Fortunately, on this day, Kung Fu was just minutes away. I asked him to get his uniform on, so we could get going.
A remarkable thing happened at Kung Fu. After about 10 minutes of warm-ups, stretching, and forms, he was laughing and talking. His energy was brighter. By the end of class, he was talking up a storm in the car on the way home. The physical activity had transformed his energy, attitude, and mental clarity.
And this happens without fail pretty much every time he goes to Kung Fu.
In the same week, my wife was struggling with some old mental-emotional patterns. She was very self-critical on her looks and lacking confidence in what she is doing for work. From my perspective, this is crazy, because, for one, she is absolutely beautiful, and two, she is wonderfully good at her work doing Intuitive Readings and Reiki.
Nevertheless, there was no pumping her up or talking her into a better mood.
Then, she went to her Ninja training workout. This workout really tests her on obstacles, strength, mental focus, and endurance. She was a gymnast growing up, yet the balance, power, agility, and strength asked for by that class really pushes her to the edge.
She called me on the way home from her class-and she was gushing with enthusiasm. She had just made it up the "Warped Wall," and completed a preliminary "Salmon Ladder" that she had been working on for months. She was physically tired, but, at the same time, emotionally energized and happy.
The self-criticism and self-doubt were gone.
As a Personal Trainer, I've seen this happen again and again with my clients for over 35 years.
They come in tired, stressed, frazzled, frustrated, or worried-and they leave relaxed, energized, mentally clear, and feeling good. And, research back this up.
Physical training gets blood flowing, bringing more oxygen to all your cells-including your brain. It pumps lymphatic fluid, which clears toxins from your cells. It stimulates good-feeling neuro-chemicals called "endorphins." And, it even stimulates new neural connections, boosting your mental clarity, brain function, and creativity.
I've proven this time and time again with my own workouts. Whenever I am in a mental funk, feeling lethargic, or frustrated with a problem, I workout-and not only does it boost my energy and clear my frustration, the solutions to what I am working on seem to magically appear. Because of that, I often keep a pen and paper handy when I workout.
Now, over the years, I've discovered that there is one key to shifting your energy, clearing your mind, and boosting your brain function using physical activity. That key is to push up to your limits to some degree. That is what stimulates more oxygen delivery, new neural connections, and those endorphins.
You can do this using cardio, strength, stretching, or mind-body training-or ideally some combination of all of the above.
Using cardio training, which is any continuous rhythmic movement that elevates your heart-rate and respiration, you need to go at an intensity that makes you breathe heavily and rapidly, at least for a short period of time. It's best if you do this alternating harder and easier intervals.
Using strength training, with body weight or external resistance, you need to push your muscles until they feel somewhat challenged. Take a break and do it again.
Using flexibility training, you need to stretch to the limit of your flexibility and then work at that edge by imagining that you are breathing into and out of the muscles you are stretching. In this way, you gradually, mindfully, increase your range of motion.
Using mind-body training, you need to challenge your body with tasks that ask for your full attention, such as balancing, practicing a skillful activity, or focusing on the sensations inside your body while moving.
In these ways, you engage your mind and body, challenge yourself at least slightly, and come away feeling mentally clear and refreshed as well as physically relaxed and energized.
So, the next time you feel mentally foggy, emotionally stressed, and/or physically lethargic, take a break for physical activity. Engage your mind with your body by challenging yourself in some way and paying attention to the feeling of what you are doing. Then, notice how you feel afterwards.
Record that good feeling in your body, so you can remember it to motivate physical activity the next time you feel foggy, stressed, and lethargic.
If the memory of physical activity doesn't pull you out of your chair, consider putting a regular exercise class in your schedule, setting up a regular routine with a friend, and considering what physical activities you really enjoy-such as dancing or hiking in nature.
Physical activity that challenges you slightly and feels enjoyable is a surefire way to instantly clear your mind, while boosting energy and mental clarity.
So, what are you waiting for? Get up and move!
Your body and mind will thank you!
Too tired to exercise?