Monitor your mental state and physical state...
October 16, 2020
On this blog I write about creating a strong mindset, about performing, and about being the best version of yourself you can be both mentally and physically. Of course, you’re not always going to have your best days, there will be bad days as well. Days that you don’t feel like doing anything both mentally and physically. How can you recognize those days before they occur and cope with them?
In this article, I will describe my methods of discovering those before they happen and how to handle them. The reason why I tackle both is that the two are intertwined and they complement each other.
We all have those days we are feeling bad. It starts when getting out of bed. Everything seems to be costing you extra energy. You’re grumpy and have a bad mood and short fuse. When your body doesn’t feel like doing anything, your mind plays along.
That negative voice in your head gets the upper hand and you give in:
“It’s alright to eat that bag of chips”
“You don’t have to work out today”
“You can skip reading a book today”
In my article Callus the mind I write about how David Goggins developed a method that helps you to step up against that voice. Check it out here: Callus the mind by David Goggins
The opposite is also true, you wake up feeling good. Do some exercise and your mood will only get better. That’s because physical exercise activates the brain. The positive voice in your head gets more traction and you get more things done. So you feel better about yourself it’s an upward spiral.
Define your metrics and set your baseline
If you want to recognize in advance when you are going to have a bad day. You will have to discover the bad habits you fall back to. We all have them. But why is this? When you feel bad, you have less resistance. Also less resistance against the negative voice in your head. The mind always looks for that path of least resistance by default. So the easiest thing to fall back to first is known bad habits that your mind already knows.
For me they are the following:
I start drinking more coffee
Normally I drink 2 max 3 cups of coffee all well in the morning. When I start to crave for coffee after lunch and give in, I know what time it is.
I start spending more time on useless things
I start getting into those social media rabbit holes. You find a video, next thing you know an hour has passed and all you have been doing was watching useless videos.
I tend to grab on to snacks
I just start eating anything I get my hands on. When there is only healthy stuff in the house it’s okay. But when there are candy and chips it gets ugly.
Preventing myself from doing something useful
I know I have something important to do. But I just do everything I can think of just not to do that one task I keep procrastinating. It’s like almost sabotaging myself.
I get naggy to my wife
She is the first one to recognize it. When I start nagging about the lights not being off or I can’t find my clothes or there is no food. She knows what time it is.
I go to bed late
I go to bed early, but I get on my phone and start watching Netflix. Which is not always a bad thing. But it is when you feel bad and need sleep.
I get the urge to buy useless stuff.
I see some ads passing by about a new cool thing and I cave in. I order it. Like for example a new phone case or a new video game.
Besides these factors, I don’t feel really bad yet. But I know when I recognize myself doing the things mentioned above a bad day will follow. Those days I don’t feel like doing anything, a little bit depressed, turned inward and I don’t feel like talking to anyone. What should you do when you have one?
You are having a bad day
You recognized all the things I mentioned above and you you catch yourself slipping. How do you handle such a day?
Here are 5 steps that I use personally to cope with a bad day:
Accept that you have a bad day
It’s okay to have a bad day. Society is portraying this image that you should always be happy. That is only true in fairy tales, sometimes you will feel bad and it’s okay.
Physical exercise even if it’s a walk around the block. You will feel a little bit better
Like I mentioned before exercise will activate your brain and clear brain fog. You will be able to think clearly and be with yourself for a moment. You will be able to put everything in perspective.
Focus on that new skill you are trying to learn
There is no better distraction than learning. Your brain loves it and it will have no room for negative thoughts while doing that.
Don’t contact colleagues or people not so close to you
If you know you are in a bad place, don’t contact people in that state. You are not yourself and you will say things you don’t mean and could afflict some serious damage to relationships. Call in sick or start preparing to repair the trace of collateral damage you’ve left behind.
When you feel like grabbing your phone, grab a book
Like learning, reading is a good way to distract your brain. When you read your brain needs to tap into that imagination. When doing that, also no room for negative thoughts.
Prevent physical and mental health problems
I now shared with you what I do when I’m in a bad place. Of course, preventing is even better. I am a firm believer that a lot of mental and physical health problems can be prevented by keeping these three pillars in balance:
- Physical Exercise
- Food intake
CAUTION: Just to be clear, if you had trauma and something bad happened to you I understand, that this is not something you can prepare for or prevent for that matter. However, these pillars can help you to get out of it and/or get it under control. NEVERTHELESS, ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IN THIS CASE.
If you want to get more insight into those pillars, you need to start tracking them. For my food intake, I use myFitnessPall and for physical exercise and sleep, I use my Fitbit and will get a Whoop 3.0 strap.
When you start tracking these pillars you’ll start to see the correlation between this and your physical health and mental health.
For example in the gym you trained legs, the biggest muscle you can train. The next day you already start to feel bad and fall back into bad habits. You take a look at your sleep tracker and you see even though the number of hours was enough, the quality of sleep was really bad and that makes sense right. Heavy physical exercise in combination with bad recovery, will drain your energy level. No matter how good your food intake is.
This is a basic example, but it can get complex when you start taking heart rates into account, timing of food intake and phsyical exercise. Tracking that data can benefit you. Also, you might start to recognize patterns, so you can prepare in advance. Some days of the week you feel better than others.
I for example came to find out I was lactose intolerant. I was feeling sick to my stomach in the mornings, paired with low energy. I started recognizing it was always when I ate or drank something with dairy the day before.
There is not a one-stop-shop solution to prevent and take action on a bad physical and mental state. You need to discover what your patterns are by tracking and paying close attention. As soon as you start doing that, things will start getting clearer and to make sense.
I'm fascinated by the power of a strong mindset. I combine this with being a web developer, which keeps me motivated. But how, you may ask? That's what I share on this website. For more information about me personally, check out the about me page: About Me