How to shape up your mind, via SANE by Emma Young

calm-sunset

Here are some top tips from Emma Young, to help you improve your mental strength and stay calm in the face of hectic work schedules, family commitments, exercise regimes and a cluttered house:

  1. ‘What I’ve had to accept is that you don’t find calmness or contentment by striving to identify external factors that could generate these feelings- you create them’
  2. ‘When I do now find myself starting to think negative thoughts, I ask myself, as a stoic would: do you have any control over what you’re worrying about? If the answer’s ‘no,’ I try to move on.’
  3. ‘I’d started out thinking mindfulness was ‘just’ a type of meditation. It’s very clear to me now that it’s a whole lot more than that.’
  4. ‘Part of me feels diasppointed that there isn’t a big transformative change to be made- that eating twenty walnuts, perhaps, or three eggs a day could halve my stress levels or super-charge my mood. It’s a small part, however. Mostly, I’m relieved by what I’ve found out. I wouldn’t want to be a slave to a special ‘mind diet’ and for most of us, I can’t see that there’s any need to be.’
  5. ‘Though I know that theoretically it’s good for my body, I find myself thinking about doing exercise in the same way as contributing to a pension fund. I know it’s important, but right now, you know what, I just can’t do it.’
  6. ‘It’s clear that strengthening the mind shares at least one big similarity with physical training: it’s not something you can do for a bit and expect the effects to last. You have to keep at it and keep at it (though, like physical training, it does get easier the more you do it)’
  7. ‘If the question is: bohemian cluttered styling versus modern zen simplicity- which is best for psychological wellbeing? There’s no simple answer. Because it depends on who you are.’
  8. ‘If I’ve had an awful night, I resolve not to try to make the kids eat beef stew, wholegrain rice and three veg for their dinner. I’ll give them what they love- canned pasta in the shape of TV characters and grated cheese- because whatever the anti-inflammatory, brain boosting benefits of broccoli, surely they’re bound to be counteracted by the pro-inflammatory effects of a foul tempered mum crying “why can’t you just eat it? It’s healthy!”‘
  9. ‘I like to understand whaetever tricks may be available for directing my thoughts, so that I am master of them, rather than the other way around. I’d like a mind that’s self-confident and strong. Not fake-smile positive but genuinely at ease. A mind that can take me places.’
  10. ‘As far as I can tell… Psychologists don’t agree on exactly what “mental toughness” means… so this is what I am taking it to mean: The ability to get through less-than-desirable circumstances to achieve a goal. Whether that’s to complete a work project in the evenings, rather than watching TV, or to cut out cake to lose weight, or to follow an exercise programme to get fit, or even, yes, to walk across a remote glacier without food or dry clothes to survive- and not whinge about it.’

You can watch Emma talking more about staying Sane in this video, from our 2015 Yellow Kite Online Festival!

 

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Dan Fraser

Dan enjoys practicing his meditation techniques and likes to relax by colouring in lots of pictures of cats.




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Sane

Emma Young has no history of mental illness, just like everyone else, occasionally she gets down, anxious and disproportionately stressed. Disappointed that her mind does not always deal well with the


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