Week One’s theme is ‘Introspect’ - to consider one’s own internal state or feelings. Whether you are focusing on one or more aspects of your health for Change Your View, we encourage you to be honest with yourself. Engage your thoughts, ask yourself questions, and make time to explore how this week’s initiative will impact your thinking, feeling, and choosing.
Encourage: Your mental health is VITAL to your overall health. It’s not simply about emotions or being sensitive - your mental health is all about how you think, what you feel, and what you choose in life. You are more than a label, more than a diagnosis. Regardless of what any person or doctor has said over you and your mental state, you have the ability to take your thoughts captive and build a better thought life.
Challenge: This week, consciously observe how your body feels in different situations - situations that can elicit feelings of anxiousness, anger, or even emotional numbness. When you experience those feelings, does your stomach churn or maybe your arm muscles tense? You may hold tension in your shoulders or feel like your throat is closing in.
As you sense this, be mindful that the emotion you are experiencing is manifesting as a sensation in your body. Let the physical sensation run its course, like a ripple on a lake that gradually fades away. In this moment you don’t need to analyze the emotion you feel, but you must “own” it. In other words, don’t dismiss the experience or how it makes you feel. Often, even if we can’t pinpoint an exact emotion, simply acknowledging that we have a general emotional response can help bring healing.
Now, take a deep breath and gradually release the tension from your body. Starting at your head, release any tension all the way down to your toes. You may need to repeat this several times to successfully release the tension. As you breathe, consciously shift your thoughts from the awareness of your emotion (anxiety, anger, etc) and to an awareness of self-compassion. You have courageously acknowledged your emotions and your body’s response when you could have easily suppressed your feelings.
This entire process can take less than a minute. Our emotional response to any given situation takes less than 4-5 milliseconds, the most work is done within our recognition of where we feel the emotion surfacing in our body and releasing that tension in a healthy way. This process will help reduce cortisol levels, protecting our cognitive functions.
[ALARM] Set an alarm or reminder in your phone for 3pm every afternoon this week. If you haven’t naturally gone through the above exercise throughout your day, step away for two minutes and replay the day’s events in your mindseye. Then go through the exercise when you reflect on a past circumstance that instigated anxiety.
Equip: Have you ever caught yourself stressing out about a future situation? You’ve convinced yourself that you already know how things are going to turn out, so you’re anticipating the worst. Or you are confident someone didn’t like you, only to find out later they have no problem with you at all and actually think you’re great!? We have to consciously determine whether if what we feel is based on fact or on a story that we made up.
Excerpt from Dr. Brene Brown’s Rising Strong on making up stories.
“In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. It’s how we are wired. In fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is part of our most primitive survival wiring. Meaning making up stories is in our biology, and our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense, feels familiar, and offers us insight into how best to self-protect. What we’re trying to do in the rumble with the truth - is a conscious choice. A brave, conscious choice.”
Robert Burton, a neurologist and novelist, explains that our brain rewards us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns. Stories are patterns. The brain recognizes the familiar beginning-middle-end structure of a story and rewards us for clearing up the ambiguity. Unfortunately, we don’t need to be accurate, just certain.
Burton writes, ‘Because we are compelled to make stories, we are often compelled to take incomplete stories and run with them.’ He goes on to say that even with a half story in our minds, ‘we earn a dopamine reward every time it helps us understand something in our world - even if that explanation is incomplete or wrong.’
What do we call a story that’s based on limited read data and imagined data blended into coherent, emotionally satisfying version of reality? A conspiracy theory. Drawing on extensive research and history, English professor and science writer Jonathan Gottschall examines the human need for story in his book The Storytelling Animal. He explains that there’s growing evidence that ‘ordinary, mentally healthy people are strikingly prone to confabulate in everyday situations.’ Social workers always use the word confabulate when talking about how dementia or a brain injury sometimes causes people to replace missing information with something false that they believe to be true. The stories were confabulations - lies, honestly told.
Many of my research participants who had gone through a painful breakup or divorce, been betrayed by a partner, or experienced a distant or uncaring relationship with a parent or family member spoke about responding to their pain with a story about being unlovable. A narrative questioning if they were worthy of being loved. This may be the most dangerous conspiracy theory of all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past thirteen years, it’s this: just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable.”
Dr. Brown continues on by explaining that we need to get good at recognizing the stories we are making up. The best way to do this is intentionally writing down in drafts. Every draft can be small enough to fit on a post-it note. It doesn’t have to be well written or even a full paragraph. Just get it down. The first draft is the five-year-old-tyrant - no filter, write every word that come to mind. In the next draft, it’s time to explore the ins and outs of your story. Ask yourself “what assumptions am I allowing in my story?” Write those down. Ask yourself, “what clarification do I need from the other people in this story?” Write it down. Finally, ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?” Write it down.
In terms of communication, it’s also healthy to dialogue honestly by confessing, “the story I’m making up in my head is…” Let the other person know what conspiracy is feeding into conflict. Continue talking until the facts are at the surface and the emotions you feel help rather than hinder your relationship.
Encourage: Taking care of our body is often the most common resolution in the New Year. Yet, it’s also commonly the most failed resolution. Maintaining healthy physical habits are difficult. Primarily because those habits are linked to emotional and sometimes spiritual conditions. Stressed - do you want a salad or a cookie? COOKIE. Exhausted - movie marathon or kickboxing class? MOVIES. Your body is not simply physical, so when you make goals for your physical body you have to consider the condition of your mind and spirit as well. While you don’t necessarily need to participate in all three initiatives throughout Change Your View, we do encourage you to be honestly introspective in considering your mental and spiritual wellness as you progress with your physical health.
Challenge: Do you realize how much light makes a difference in the quality of your sleep? This week, your goal it to take a good hard look at your sleeping patterns and get the best quality sleep possible. Our restfulness is determined by several factors. You need a cool environment, static white noise, a comfy bed, and no big meals at least 2 hours before hitting the hay. But light plays a huge factor as well.
“Artificial light disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm—the body’s 24-hour sleep/wake cycle—and has been shown to affect things like brain wave patterns, hormone production, and cell regulation. Disrupting this circadian rhythm has also been linked to medical issues like depression, obesity, breast and prostate cancer, and cardiovascular disease. It’s even associated with sleep disorders like insomnia and delayed phase sleep disorder a condition in which major sleep episode is delayed relative to the desired clock time, possibly because it causes the suppression of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
A few small changes can help minimize the problems associated with sleep and artificial light. For starters, don’t keep your phone near you when you sleep, and avoid all artificially lit screens (like televisions, iPads, and iPhones) right before bedtime. Shield artificial light properly in the bedroom (by turning your alarm so that the light faces away from you, for example), and use light at night only when it’s absolutely needed.
Follow these three tips to keep your circadian rhythm functioning as it should.
1. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule. A regular bedtime is one part of the equation, but waking up at the same time daily will also help keep your circadian rhythm in check. It may be tempting to grab some extra shut-eye on weekends, but doing so can throw off your body clock during the week.
2. Go for an A.M. Walk. In the morning, exposure to the sun (or indoor light), won’t just give you an energy boost—it can also reset your circadian rhythm. A quick outdoor stroll in the morning will give you enough sun exposure to signal to your brain that it’s time to start the day. No time to walk? Simply raise the blinds or switch on your brightest light instead.
3. Limit Evening Tech. Bright lights in the evening hours can throw off your body clock by confusing your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Artificial blue light (the type that laptops, tablets and cell phones emit) is the worst culprit, so try to power-down tech devices at least two to three hours before bed.” (sleep.org)
Huge factor many struggle with: shutting off our brain!!! Getting our minds to quiet down at night is one of the biggest hindrances to sleep. Getting in a solid routine and following the above-mentioned advice will definitely help. Adding melatonin or L-theanine (over the counter vitamins) before bedtime can also help your brain get-a-clue when it’s time to sleep.
If you’re having a difficult time sleeping because your thoughts are like livewire in your head, don’t perpetuate it by being upset with yourself or become fearful about your lack of sleep. Lay in bed with your eyes closed, ease the tension out of your body by consciously relaxing every muscle, then repeat a relaxing pattern (like counting) or prayer.
Still wide-awake? Get up, go to another room, and read a book. Once your body and mind have calmed, you can try again. The main thing you can do to help yourself is to stay calm and do not perpetuate feelings of frustration or fear. Frustration or fear will begin the stress response in your body which releases adrenaline.
[ALARM] Set an alarm or reminder in your phone for 2 hours before your determined bed-time. That’s your 30 minute warning to finish up what you’re working on, sign off of social media for the night, and make sure you are ready for sleep.
Equip: Click here to download the Body Systems Assessment. Follow the directions and answer honestly. Once you have tallied up each system’s totals, you will have a great starting point for which body systems need the most support. Please feel free to reach out to Kelli or Ashlee about practical steps in supporting specific body systems. They are happy to work with you individually to customize solutions that will aid your journey to wellness.
When we think of—and speak about—the circulatory system, we are usually talking about the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart and blood vessels (arteries and veins), as well as the blood itself. The circulatory system transports oxygen nutrients to all corners of the body and carries away byproducts of metabolism.
The lymphatic system transports lymph (a fluid) using lymph vessels, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and various glands. The lymphatic system is key for immunity, blood pressure regulation, digestion, and other functions.
The respiratory system contains the lungs, trachea (windpipe) and all of the airways of the respiratory tree. It is responsible for breathing, which is the controlled movement of air in and out of the body (ventilation) and the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of the bloodstream
Integumentary system is skin, which includes all the sweat glands, hair follicles and plenty of nerves. The integumentary system is unique because it is the only single-organ system. Skin is both an organ and the entire organ system.
The endocrine system includes all the glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Most people find the endocrine system and the nervous system as the two most complicated systems in the body.
The endocrine system mostly regulates metabolism and utilizes the products of digestion.
Gastrointestinal (Digestive) System
The gastrointestinal system is affectionately known as the gut, which includes all the organs that carry food from where it enters to where it exits. The esophagus, stomach and intestines are all part of the gastrointestinal system. There is a lot of interaction between the gastrointestinal system (often called the GI tract) and the endocrine system.
The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. These organs work together to filter blood and remove toxins and waste from body tissues. The removal of excess fluid through the urinary system also helps to regulate blood pressure.
This is the skeleton and all the muscles, tendons and ligaments that are attached to it. The musculoskeletal system provides the framework and the engine for our movement, posture and productivity.
The nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord, plus all the nerves that are connected to both of these organs. The nervous system is incredibly detailed and includes the only tissue that isn't fed directly through contact with blood.
The reproductive system the only system that is split into two parts. This is the only organ system that differs in structure based on gender. The organs involved in producing offspring.
The immune system organs work like sailors on a navy ship: every sailor has a primary duty and is cross-trained for the safety of the vessel. The primary organs of the immune system are lymph nodes, bone marrow, thymus, spleen, adenoids, tonsils, and skin. Because of the interplay between organs from various other systems, the immune system is one of the most complicated systems of all.
This is NOT a body system, however, this is a vital component of our health and should be evaluated with the same scrutiny as any other system. Any challenges in finding emotional balance can be an indicator of hormone imbalances or difficulties within other body systems.
Encourage: Wellness Collected believes that, as humans, we are complete beings with a mind, body, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Becoming well of spirit is primarily dependent on the individual’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Each initiative throughout Change Your View will encourage spiritual growth in relation to following Jesus Christ and His Word set forth in the Bible. Introspectively, ask yourself: what do I think about Jesus Christ? Is He a good man? Is He someone I know well enough to trust? Also think: who am I because of Jesus Christ? The Week One Initiative will focus on Christ-centered Identity. If you and Jesus were sitting in the same room, physically face-to-face, would you be uncomfortable? Would you feel like you had to pretend to be a different version of yourself in front of Him? We have no need to impose a facade of ourselves before God the Father, Christ the Son, or to Holy Spirit. You have a Christ-centered, Christ-given identity and it frees you to be authentically you 100% of the time.
Personal identity is how we see ourself. It’s also referred to as our self-image. Now, there are a lot of factors that can influence our self-image. We have been designed with a survival mode that leads us through daily experiences and traumas. This survival mode’s goal is not only to keep us alive, but to keep us protected from anything that could hurt us physically or emotionally. When that survival mode is enacted, our response should be to live surrendered to God, completely trusting Him. However, that’s not the case most of the time, and so we cultivate this image of ourselves built upon years of survival mode response - responses to the highs and lows of life that portray an image of who we are. But we are more than traumas, diagnosis, personality tests, or culmination of good/bad choices.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The phrase “in Christ” or “in Christ Jesus” refers to the state of believers. If you have asked God to forgive your sins and have declared your decision to follow Jesus with your life, you are saved. It is because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that our sins are covered by His blood and we are forgiven. Jesus is the reason we stand before God justified despite our sin.
Here’s the war raging between our flesh (the survival instinct) and our spirit (our identity in Christ as new creations): We continue, even after the point of salvation, to live in a fallen world. In this world, we have trouble and experience daily instances where we have a choice. The choice to assert control of our lives and the situation at hand OR to remember the power of Christ’s salvation work. This is a daily battle for ALL of us.
This is what Christ’s finished work on the cross and resurrection affords us, this is who we are IN HIM: valued (Matthew 6:26), redeemed (Galatians 3:13), more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), abounding in grace (2 Corinthians 9:8), forgiven of all sins (1 John 1:9), fully known and fully loved (2 Timothy 2:19), bold and confident (Ephesians 3:12), delivered (Colossians 1:13), set free (John 8:31-32), ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), and overcomers (1 John 5:4-5). And that’s just a short list of what the Bible lists as our identity in Christ!
[ALARM] Right now, take your phone and set a reminder or calendar alert for every morning and title the reminder “Who I Am”. Each morning, when that reminder pops up, look at yourself in the mirror and read some of the scripture listed above. Even substitute your name within the text and write the verse on your mirror with a dry erase marker. IE. Ephesians 3:12 In Him, I have boldness and confident access through faith in Christ Jesus my Lord.
Equip: “In order to live out of the fullness of our new identity in Christ, we must determine what is hindering us from doing so, which varies from person to person. Many times, a false belief has wedged itself between how God defines us and seeing ourselves in the same light.
For example, the opposite of “pure and blameless” would be “impure, stained or guilty.” Perhaps a life experience has caused you to feel impure, so you believe God sees you this way. You then create and live out of an identity based on your actions, which is contrary to how God sees you.
Once you recognize the false belief, surrender it over to God in repentance, which means in Greek “to change one’s mind.”. Then replace the lie with truth found in Scripture.
Sometimes the lie is connected to a very real, painful experience. Take some time to grieve over the experience and invite God into the place of brokenness. After you have surrendered the lie over to God, pray that He will help you believe the truth about who He says you are, and make you aware of the times you are not believing it. Then, make the choice to believe it!
We may not always ‘feel’ forgiven or blameless, but the truth is, God sees us that way. This is where faith comes in.” (www.cru.org)
Click the image above to worship and sing over yourself Biblical truth: I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am.
Make sure you set your alarms for this week and start building healthy habits! Ashlee will be going live Thursday January 3rd on the Wellness Collected Page to share “The Science of Building Healthy Habits” and to discuss Week One’s Initiative. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and share encouragement with others on the facebook page!