5 Ways to Feel Better Fast AND Make It Last
All of us have felt stressed, traumatized, grief-stricken, or hopeless at some point in life. It’s perfectly normal to go through hard times or experience periods when we feel panicked or out of sorts. How we respond to these challenges makes all the difference in how we feel – not just immediately, but in the long run.
We all want the pain to stop quickly. Since many things that help in the short-term make us feel worse in the long-term, Dr. Amen wrote the book “Feel Better Fast and Make It Last” to provide simple, healthy habits to aid in the recovery process. The book is an invaluable resource that teaches us how to unlock the brain’s potential to overcome negativity, anger, stress and trauma. Making positive and permanent changes in the brain starts by adjusting the way we think.
You can make yourself feel awful almost immediately by dwelling on the worst possible outcome of a situation, spending time with highly toxic people, or maintaining a brain unhealthy lifestyle. You can just as easily make yourself feel better through simple choices like practicing gratitude, surrounding yourself with caring people, and using many other brain healthy habits.
Amen Clinics partnered with Professor BJ Fogg and his sister Linda Fogg-Phillips to help our patients with behavior change. They teach that only three things can change behavior:
- An epiphany
- A change in the environment (what and who surrounds you)
- Taking baby steps
You don’t have to wait for an epiphany to change your behavior. You don’t need to have a heart attack or get cancer to get serious about your health. Most people can change their environment (friends, workplace, church) or the people they surround themselves with, and all of us can make small changes that, over time, create amazing results.
High motivation helps you do hard things. But if your motivation is medium or even low, you can still change for the better. In fact, the Foggs recommend starting with baby steps, or what they call “Tiny Habits.” These are easy changes that will boost your confidence and sense of accomplishment, and gradually evolve into bigger changes.
The Tiny Habits formula is “When I do x (or when x happens), I will do y.” Then when you do y, celebrate to reinforce the new behavior or good feeling. Celebrations can be as simple as treating yourself to a piece of brain healthy chocolate. Remember, daily healthy habits are the key to spectacular, long-term results.
To feel better fast AND make it last, implement these 5 Tiny Habits:
5 Tiny Habits to Stay Healthy
Whenever you come to a decision point in your day, ask yourself, “Is the decision I’m about to make good for my brain or bad for it?” If you consistently make decisions that serve your brain’s health you are well on your way to feeling better fast in a way that will make it last.
Envision a Better Life
Choose a haven – a place where you feel comfortable and that you can imagine with all your senses. If it’s the beach, visualize the ocean, feel the sand between your toes and the warm sun on your skin. Your haven can be any real or imaginary place where you’d like to spend time.
During each session, choose one goal to work on. Stay with that goal until you can imagine yourself reaching it, going through each of the steps required to attain it. Begin to envision yourself not as you currently are, but as you want to be. Spend at least 20 minutes a day on this refueling, life-changing exercise. You’ll be amazed at the results.
Whenever you feel anxious, mad, or tense, take a deep breath, hold it for one or two seconds, then slowly exhale for about five seconds. Then take another deep breath, as deep as you can, hold it for one to two seconds, and again slowly exhale. Do this about 10 times and you will start to feel very relaxed, perhaps even a little sleepy. It sounds so simple, but breathing is essential to life. When you slow down and become more efficient with your breathing, most things seem better.
Close your eyes, hold out your hands (palms down), and visualize a campfire in front of you. Focus. Think heat. Hear the fire crackling, smell the aroma of fresh-cut wood burning, and see the sparks floating up into the sky. Now feel the soothing heat as it penetrates the surface of your skin and goes deep to warm your hands. Picture this as you breathe deeply and count slowly to 20.
Did you feel an increase in warmth? Did you find you started to hold your hands closer as if there was an actual fire in front of you? Practice this technique a few minutes every day and you’ll find that the relaxation response will come easier and faster each time.
Write It Down
Writing things down is an invaluable way to stay focused and on track. Recording what you eat is a well-known technique for fast-tracking weight loss. Journaling helps reinforce the habits you want to strengthen until they become second nature.
How can journaling do this? The secret is in how you use your journal. If you notice you are struggling with food cravings or gambling, for example, a journal can help you pinpoint where you might have gone off track – if you skipped a meal, were under intense stress, or spent time with unhealthy people.
Being able to recognize your vulnerable times allows you to develop strategies to overcome them. Write down your temptations and look for any patterns – time of day, amount of sleep or food, stress level, etc. Your mistakes are your best teachers. Knowing what triggers your good decisions and your poor ones can help you become more self-aware.
These are just a handful of the many Tiny Habits found in Dr. Amen’s new book, “Feel Better Fast and Make It Last.” Order the book now!
For our full catalog of brain healthy supplements, visit us at BrainMD.
Keith is grateful to have the opportunity to write about supplements since many of them have made a dramatic difference in his life. He is often heard around the office saying, “We have supplements for that.”