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Don't Listen To Your Brain: A Positive Mindset For A Healthier Life

Pilates studio classWorking through a chronic condition, whether it is lower back or shoulder pain, varies from person to person. After a thorough examination, in most cases, there are signs that point me to think « I am really going to be able to help this person ». The range of motion of the person or the muscle reactivity to specific stimulation or just the feel of the tissues under my fingers gives me that information.

At other times, the general impression will curb my enthusiasm. I will be thinking: « This person can get better, I can help them. However, their recovery is up to them ».

I am suggesting that for chronic issues, some people will need to work through changes. Therefore, treatment will be as effective as the intention and commitment to improving the condition. The person who wants to recover must believe they are capable of it and allow the process of changing. Changing is difficult, for anyone. It means letting go and losing something. Being in pain for a long time impacts confidence and energy. In response, my plan, as a therapist, is to boost confidence and restore energy. I want each person that comes into my office to believe they will recover and work through the change process.

The biggest predictor of treatment outcome is adhering to exercises and lifestyle changes. I can understand that many people have difficulty in the beginning and maintaining the exercise routine which I prescribe. It seems like there is just not enough time in a day.

I wonder if that is really true. 15 minutes are all that is needed. One can quite easily whittle the time away while texting or phone scrolling. Instead, why not spend that precious time stretching tight pecs from a slumped posture?

The hardest part can often be getting started. But 5 minutes is already a good start. You just need a small step in a new direction to start a change. Try not to see it as a chore, chores are boring mostly.

Here is the secret: trick your brain.

Your brain is here to protect you, keeping you away from uncomfortable situations, anything that might put you in (real or delusory) danger. Its main argument is « don’t do that, it’s going to be hard, and you feel tired, stay on the couch ». Most likely, your brain has previously tricked into thinking you should avoid exercises that tire you or work your muscles because untrained muscles can send pain messages to the brain and it’s like: no, let’s not do that! Therefore, I want you to imagine the opposite.

Close your eyes, think about stretching your hip flexor (lunging deeply). Think about how good it will feel, think about how positive the outcome will be on your nervous system. Think about how you are slowing down degenerative changes happening in your muscles. How you will increase blood flow and receptor stimulation in your neuromuscular fibers. These positive mental affirmations can pre-prepare the body for working through the issues, enabling you to enjoy the process rather than enduring it.

Sounds amazing, right?

Every change or habit you wish to create is about perspective and getting out of your brain. Eating healthy is not sacrificing foods you love and depriving yourself. It’s about loving your body and bringing the most needed nutrients to your body through your various magnificent systems.

If you view something as something really positive for you, it’s much easier to do. The perspective switch is the greatest hack to stay active and healthy.

Annabelle Gerrard D.C.

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