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The Most Effective Solution to Boost Mental Energy

5 senses be present being present breathe five senses mental energy mindfulness notice Jun 19, 2022

Be. Here. Now.

Huh? **looks up from phone** What did you say?   

Has this happened to you?  

Being physically present doesn't mean you are truly and wholly present in a space, conversation, or relationship. Our body might be sitting in the chair across the dinner table, but our mind is miles away. It isn't usually intentional to be distracted or let our minds disassociate from the present. But it must bring us back and keep us focused on what's happening here. Learning to Be Present is the most effective solution to Boost Mental Energy.  

Energy is in short supply. Our calendars are full, date books dogged eared with tabs for reminders and appointments, and notifications pop up on our phones every five minutes. Our mind is constantly drawn to the future with all the planning and notifications. And what quickly shows up is worry in the form of 'what if.' It steals from our energetic capacity to invest thinking power into these future worries. 

The space that takes much less energy is the present. Focusing on the here and now takes much less mental space. One of the big reasons that being present takes less energy is because actions are possible. Worrying about the future is just that worry, no action. We can't change the past. We can't take action in a hypothetical future. So it's regenerative to use the action at the moment to propel us forward by motion. One step leads to another without consuming all of our energetic capacity.

So often, we look for increased energy everywhere except right before us. We've joined gyms, learned meditation, and gone to acupuncture; none of these gave us the mental energy we sought. If you're still overachieving, then the things we sought for increased rest and energy become items on your to-do list rather than regenerative activities. 

However, being present has impressive benefits, including improved mental energy. When you're attending and allowing your mind not to worry or judge, it keeps your nervous system and amygdala calm. When your mind is calm, it can easily access the pre-frontal cortex, where your executive functioning occurs. Executive function includes adaptable thinking, planning, time management, and organization.   And most importantly, it includes problem-solving. So when in a calm, present state, you can tackle problems more efficiently. Decisions feel much less challenging, resulting in less worry and stress. When we worry, it's like an app running in the background of our cellphones draining the battery.

You're also able to work smarter and distinguish what's essential. Here's a list of things that are easier when we aren't riddled with worry and stress:

  • Prioritize action steps
  • Better conflict resolution
  • Improved listening and memory skills
  • Better attention to detail under pressure

These are enormous benefits for you at work but also for your relationships. 

And when you're present and experiencing these benefits, it becomes cyclical in a good way. For example, if you can pay better attention under pressure when dealing with a family crisis, you'll be able to create a plan that keeps everyone safe. Improved listening skills help you be more empathetic and compassionate to your partner and family.   When you're relationships are healthy and happy, you have more capacity to focus on the job. So around and around the benefits go. 

If the benefits are tremendous and more mental energy is so desirable, how can I be more present? What can be done? 

A straightforward way to Be Present is this - Breathe and Notice.

Breathe in slowly, counting to four, hold your breath for four and breathe out loudly for four, hold for four. Repeat. It oxygenates your mind and body. Plus, the vibrations in exhaling loudly are soothing to the vagus nerve; the nerve that runs down the center of our body. Have you been nervous and felt a tightening in your chest, a quiver in your voice, butterflies in your stomach - all coming from your nervous system. When we exhale loudly, it causes a vibration that alerts our parasympathetic nervous system to lower our heart rate and rest. This is a cue to the body that we are safe and can turn off the anxiety response saving us energy. 

After taking a breath, you'll be in a relaxed mental state and more able to notice what is around you. And here is when you will NOTICE all 5 of your senses.

What can you see?

What do you hear?

What do you taste?

What do you smell?

What can you feel?

It's that simple. You can't be in touch with your senses and be worrying about the future. It requires you to be present to notice what is happening in the space around you.

This five-sensory exercise can take only a few seconds but provide a tremendous shift in your experience. The more you do it, the easier it will be for you to be present. And the more time you spend here, the less energy you put into unchangeable situations or hypothetical scenarios. 

I call the five-sensory exercise the "grocery story technique." Have you ever been in line at the grocery store and inevitably picked the slowed line? I have a gift for picking slow lines. And although I can be reasonably patient sometimes, it wears thin when I'm crunched on time. So I will begin to notice what is around me, which can radically shift how I'm feeling from agitated and snappy to seeing the smells, sights, and sounds around me.  

You can use BREATHE and NOTICE together. But you can also use them separately. There are times and places more conducive to one than the other. 

The benefits of being present are twofold. First, you'll feel more connected to the world around you. Second, you'll experience a boost in mental energy when you're able to be calm and have complete access to your executive functioning. Problems are solved, and relationships are strengthened by being able to Breathe and Notice.

Resource:

Baer RA, Smith GT, Hopkins J, Krietemeyer J, Toney L. Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment. 2006;13:27–45.

What would you say if I told you that spending 5 minutes per day supporting your mental wellness could improve your gut health? And 5 minutes per day helping your gut health could improve your mental health?

#truth

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