Our second technique for controlling your mental state is similar to Act-Think-Feel because it takes advantage of the connection between your body and mind. It’s widely accepted that stress in the mind can lead to stress in the body, but the reverse is also true: stress in the body can lead to stress in the mind.
Take muscle tension as an example. If you tense your muscles for long periods of time, you will begin to feel the effects of that body tension in your mind. Your patience goes down. You are less light-hearted. You become mentally fatigued. Clenched fists have the same effect by triggering your body to start generating anger and upset.
The mind-body link runs both ways, so releasing tension from the body frees the mind from strain and pressure and is a critical physical and mental skill you can learn.
For example, practicing tension release to stop yourself from bracing – a habit of lifting your shoulders and clenching your muscles – can lead to relaxation and improved mental performance by increasing your circulation and energy.
To accomplish this, begin by becoming aware of muscle tightness and body position. Do so by asking yourself several questions:
1. Can I drop my shoulders?
2. Can I relax my hands? Stomach? Legs? Forehead?
3. Can I sit in a more comfortable position?
4. Can I relax my core and deepen my breathing?
Then, when you find an area of tension, use the focus breathing we have worked on already to release the tension and free your body and mind of limitations.
Today's POWER-UP: Practice tension release in the body to open the mind
The key to executing this technique is awareness of your body. You have to recognize when you're tense then stop - and then take 10-15 seconds to practice the tension release technique. Once you get good at this it can happen faster and faster and it will be come automatic.