Cheryl's Blog

Teach your mind this new trick

It was the middle of the day and I’d spent the morning texting and emailing with the caregivers supporting our parents. By noon I felt overwhelmed, so I closed my laptop, turned off the phone, and put YouTube on the TV. I searched for a quick exercise routine from “Get Fit with Rick” (he’s great!) and hit play. Within fifteen minutes, I felt centered, calm, and ready to handle the rest of the day.

Years ago, I learned to link movement with stress reduction while losing weight and getting in shape. I knew that working out metabolized cortisol, the stress hormone, so I trained my mind to see exercise as a form of protecting my peace. When I felt tense, I hopped on the treadmill or went for a walk, and over time my mind linked the two activities together. The formula became: Feel stressed + move body = feel good. This association regulated my nervous system and kept my body healthy, fit, and strong.

Over the last month I’ve used this trick with a new activity: Playing the piano. Whenever I feel pressured or anxious and I’ve already worked out, I practice the piano. It’s been a wonderful way to restore my peace of mind while improving my skills and it doesn’t take much – ten or fifteen minutes. These short breaks have helped me to put the finishing touches on renditions of Stairway to Heaven and Happy Birthday so the association has been fun and productive.

This is how we use stress to our advantage.

The power of association can work wonders to calm your nerves while helping you accomplish something you want to do. So, that’s my two cents for this week. If you’re ready to write a book, play an instrument, learn to cook, or get in shape, make stress your new best friend. The next time you feel overwhelmed or anxious, try this formula:

Feeling stressed + Meaningful activity = Feeling better

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your mind learns to follow this new rule 😀.



P.S. – Check out the audiobook/workshop called Self Care for the Wisdom Years available through Audible. You can learn more here.


Photo by David Matos on Unsplash