I promise this is the last email about the Art & Science of Health Promotion conference that I attended a few weeks ago.
One of the most fascinating sessions I attended was the Neuroscience of Wellness with Dr. Raquel Garzon.
Dr. Garzon talked about what we do as a reflection of our internal state, which is influenced by our senses, and both the emotional and rational parts of the brain.
The emotional part of the brain is primitive, and is influenced by potential perceived
threats such as hunger, pain, fear of job loss, loneliness, scarcity, feeling left out, embarrassment, uncertainty, regret, etc. When the emotional brain is triggered, it prevents us from being able to apply our skills. We may react by overeating, overspending, skipping exercise, drinking excessively, making impulsive decisions, working more, being defensive, and clinging to the status quo, among other things.
The rational brain depends on shortcuts to conserve energy, and turns to what's familiar (such as past beliefs and attitudes). We're programmed to protect ourselves through rationalizing and justifying our actions. We distort and deny, and ignore new information that's not in agreement with what we already think. We minimize, attack and blame, and evade and deflect.
What does all of this have to do with wellness?
Our brains can make it difficult for us to incorporate new, healthy habits, especially when we're under stress. But the good news is that we can leverage neuroscience to support healthy behaviors.
First, get really clear on your purpose. Purpose affects all parts of the brain. Start by considering what and who matters most in your life. Identify the most important values in your life, and how you define success. Think about what you're passionate about and what inspires you.
Next, use these journal prompts to connect your purpose with your wellbeing:
Because of my purpose and all that matters to me, my vision for my wellness is...
To live my purpose each day, the wellness behaviors that would best support that are...
If I neglect my wellness, the potential consequences to who and what matters to me are...
Making difficult but positive wellness choices is worth it to me because of...
When you're able to stay connected to your why for wellness, it's easier to stay on track. You can shift your mindset, be more aware, and make mindful decisions.