Hey guys – this is Week 2 of the Movember Men’s Health Series, and this week I’m going to talk about another very simple and effective practice that you can use to improve your overall optimism, for more positive thinking, more energy, and just a general sense of feeling “better”; and I’m going to do that within the context of a hugely significant even that has had a dramatic impact on all of us for the last year and a half – the pandemic.
I’m also going to talk about my own personal experience – how I eventually realized I was mentally and emotionally in a place that I didn’t to be in, making the conscious decision to change it, and then implementing a simple, but well-thought out practice that enabled me to get back to a place where I felt more motivated, more optimistic, and more like my old self. And as I do this you are going to learn how you can start rewiring your brain to be more positive in just a few minutes per day with a simple practice that people have been using for centuries.
I can only speak from my personal experience, but the pandemic really wore me down over time.
The self imposed restrictions that my family and I adhered to led to a continued decreased in our perception of what was possible. Over time that seeped into other areas of my life, too.
And for me personally, on top of that, this occurred during another life-changing time for me – becoming a father.
And when you combine a pandemic that keeps you mostly trapped in your house along with the new responsibility of being a father, I guess it was inevitable that something was going to change.
I was much more frustrated and had less patience than I did in the past. With many of my typical outlets unavailable, stress that would have been relieved in traditional activities stayed bottled up.
As I’m sure is the case with many couples, my wife and I had different opinions regarding the extent to which we would go to protect ourselves from the virus, and what activities were and were not acceptable was a constant debate in our household that led to even more stress. (Thankfully, we somehow made it through that. We’ve established boundaries and are now much more comfortable having conversations about what we do and don’t feel comfortable doing.)
I waited for things to go back to normal.
But… things weren’t back to normal.
One day I realized that I was much more pessimistic than I used to be. I wasn’t excited about new opportunities. There was just a general sense of heaviness to my day that had not been there before.
Around this time I decided that this was not who I am, this is not how I wanted to think, and I needed to take conscious action in order to change it.
It probably took me another 2 to 4 weeks of therapy sessions and quite a bit of thinking, but I eventually came up with a plan which I was confident would be able to fight this newfound sense of pessimism and get to the source.
In order to do that I looked to an activity that I had not done for quite some time, but one which I knew always made me feel better when I actually got around to doing it.
That activity was journaling.
Just like my nightly body awareness focused meditation, journaling sometimes took more energy than I hoped to get started, but once I was there and doing it, I knew I would feel better by the end of it.
And because I am me, and I like to figure out my own way of doing things, I wanted to come up with a journaling solution that would address the areas I felt were holding me back. So I came up with the following 3 topics to include in my nightly journal session:
- Expanding possibility – especially in the face of the pandemic, what did I do today that expanded my perception of what was possible.
- Gratitude in 3 areas – Marisa, Declan and myself. Something about my wife or something that she did which I was grateful for. Something about him or something that he did that day that made me happy. And lastly, something about myself that I was grateful for, either something from work, my personal life, or maybe just something with my workout that day.
- What do I need tomorrow, and what is my plan for getting that? This last one was really important. I was basically asking myself what do you need, what do you want, and then coming up with a plan to be able to give that to myself the following day. Some days this was to work hard on a particular project. Other days it was going for a hike, or taking a nap that afternoon. The important thing is that I was checking in with myself to figure out what I really needed, and then making a plan to make sure I got it.
What I learned.
What was really significant about these topics is that by focusing on all of these things simultaneously, I was able to address the most significant self limiting beliefs that were holding me back in my day-to-day life. Within just a few days of doing this, I started to notice that cloud of heaviness lifting. I was realizing that the negative thoughts that were holding me back weren’t necessarily my reality; they were a perspective of reality, and I could easily shift my perspective, focus on other things, and by doing that dramatically improve how I was feeling that today.
I started feeling optimistic about possibilities once more. I noticed much more of the positive interactions I was having with my wife and my son, rather than the things that frustrated me or made me angry. And lastly, I was checking in with what I needed, and then actually giving myself that thing, instead of putting it off or denying that the need existed. I didn’t always give myself what I needed, but just being aware of it was a step in the right direction.
All of November we’re raising money for men’s mental well-being research. Will you help?
We’re hoping to raise $10,000 for the Movember Organization to help raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention for men. Man Flow Yoga will match 50% of donations up to $5000, and donate 5% of our monthly sales to Movember. I invite you to donate and be part of the movement!! Let’s start changing the way men talk about our mental and emotional well-being.
Miss Week 1 our Movember Series?
In Week 1 I covered the importance of stress relief, and how you can do that with a very simple practice – body awareness-focused meditation. Learn how my personal experience with meditation and how you can start by clicking here! You can also watch the quick 10-minute video below.
Did you miss the Men’s Health Awareness Month introduction from earlier this week? Here it is.
It’s the start of November, Men’s Health Awareness Month, and this month I want to focus on health practices that I typically don’t talk about. You’ve seen me in yoga videos and tutorials, but once per week for the month of November I’m going to be talking about something else – your emotional and mental well-being, and what better way to do that than by sharing through my own personal experience, and introducing you to simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your existing routine for dramatic changes in your own emotional and mental well-being.
More and more, research is teaching us that it is our stress, more than anything else, that is contributing to our poor overall health. Things like cancer and heart disease are happening disproportionately to people who have poor emotional health, stemming from poor emotional practices like repressing certain emotions, not mindfully dealing with the day to day difficulties of modern life, and other manifestations of anxiety and depression.
I want to help reverse this trend by teaching men simple strategies to not just managing, but also improving, their overall mental and emotional well-being.
I’ll be covering essential topics that you probably didn’t learn about in school, aren’t covered in mainstream popular culture, and at least for me, aren’t things I talked about with my peers or family – and I can only assume that for many of you, this is also the case.
These are mental and emotional well-being topics and practices that I had to learn about on my own, mainly through books, and then through trial and error, figure out how to implement into my own regular routine. I’m not pretending to be an expert, but I am much more familiar than most people with these topics, and I know how to explain them in a way that’s down to earth and practical.
I can also tell you that after a few years of doing this, I’ve uncovered a lot about myself that don’t know – self-limiting beliefs that held me back from being happy, triggers from past experiences that made me get unreasonably angry, and patterns from past relationships that made my present relationships more difficult – and as a result of being able to process these things, I’ve been able to move forward with a better understanding of myself, have more energy, and be happier.
I want to talk about some of these things with you, so that we can learn how to take better care of ourselves mentally and emotionally – not just physically – for the future and beyond.
Every week, I’ll release one short lesson, including a specific topic on emotional and mental well-being, details on the practice itself, and an easy action plan for you to start doing it yourself.
We’ll cover topics to help you manage your stress, get to the source of your day to day stress, and help make you healthier and happier – because that’s what we all want, right?
I’ll also be collecting donations for men’s health, 100% of which will be donated to men’s health organizations at the end of the month.
Last time we did a fundraiser it was to help Central Austin recover from the infamous freeze of 2020, and we raised over $20000 in less than 1 week! I’m hoping that the Man Flow Yoga Community can come together once more and do something incredible to help improve the future of men’s health by supporting research and initiatives to make men healthier.
You can make your donations directly on the Movember website by visiting ManFlowYoga.com/movember, or by donating through the movember facebook fundraiser.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
Dean Pohlman is an E-RYT 200 certified yoga instructor and the founder of Man Flow Yoga. Dean is widely considered to be an authority on Yoga for Men. He has worked with physical therapists to create yoga programs for back health and spinal recovery. His workouts and programs have been used by professional and collegiate athletes, athletic trainers, and personal trainers; and have been recommended by physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors, and other medical professionals.
Dean is a successfully published author through DK Publishing (Yoga Fitness for Men), selling 35,000 copies worldwide in English, French, and German; in addition to being a co-producer of the Body by Yoga DVD Series, which has sold over 40,000 copies on Amazon since its release in 2016.
Man Flow Yoga has been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Mens’ Health, The Chicago Sun, New York Magazine, and many more major news media outlets.