Creating a Mindset for Health
So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?
That thing is mindset.
Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset.
And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.
Very interesting health mindset study
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.
Researchers at Stanford University observed a group of people's health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers. The study focuses on how subjective mindsets (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, and expectations) can alter objective reality through behavioral, psychological, and physiological mechanisms.
What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active, less healthy and more stressed had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were active and healthy enough. Even if they actually were not!
People who believe doing physical work in a job counts as exercise live longer lives, independent of how much exercise they actually get. Likewise, telling people a milkshake they drank was “indulgent” made them feel more full. Telling them a drink they were consuming had caffeine raised their blood pressure.
So, how is this even possible that people who simply thought they were not active and healthy had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?
There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we're less healthy than we should be, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn't good for our mental or physical health. Second, there seems to be a powerful mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.
Researchers don't know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset. So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.
Health mindset strategy 1 - Aim for good enough.
Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It's inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn't necessarily a great mindset to have.
It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt - none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally - one step at a time.
So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.
Health mindset strategy 2 - Stop making tradeoffs
When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you're making a tradeoff. You're telling yourself that, as long as you're good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.
And that's not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You're controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you're trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. You're doing your best, and that's good enough.
Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.
Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.
How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.