Wednesday musings, 2/3/16 and 2/10/16

Wednesday musings, 2/3/16
An older client of mine recently brought me an interesting article from The Berkeley Wellness Newsletter. The journal “Psychology an Aging,” analyzed 37 studies of older adults. What they found highlights the importance of both mindset and the power of human interaction. Situations that evoke negative age-related stereotypes in seniors, such as being spoken to slowly or in a patronizing manner, led to underperformance on cognitive testing, impairing memory and cognition. Conversely, positive stereotypes using subliminal messaging by flashing words such as “spry” and “creative” quickly across a screen enhanced physical performance, improving strength, gait, and balance.* 

This suggests that not only does our self-perception affect our physical capabilities and well-being, but how we perceive others feel about us also affects our mental and physical abilities. Many of us have passed judgement at some point in our life, assuming someone is less able for one reason or another. Perhaps if we stopped and assessed how our judgements might impact the well-being of the person being judged we would adopt a less critical way of being. And maybe instead of television ads focusing on drugs to keep people healthy, a campaign could be launched to advertise messages of active, healthy, creative seniors instead. 

*Yale study of subliminal messaging and seniors: http://news.yale.edu/2014/10/15/positive-subliminal-messages-aging-improve-physical-functioning-elderly

Wednesday musings, 2/10/16
In the book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” Greg McKeown makes a compelling argument to reduce multi-focusing. Instead of trying to do it all, we should hone in on what’s important, either to our success or well-being, and prioritize the things that will directly impact those areas. “…What is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the essential task we are trying to get done?”

This is an idea I implement regularly when working with clients that are either new to exercise or are trying to acquire new motor patterns. I pick small exercises, often that can be done in bed or while seated at a desk (compliancy goes way up if clothes don’t need to be changed or a special location isn’t required). They are always gentle movements, and are ways to bring awareness to center areas of the body or certain movement patterns. A client said to me recently, “you are brilliant in the exercises you send me home with. They don’t cause any discomfort, so if my pain level is high, I can still do them, and I can do them in bed, so I have no excuse.” (This client has had chronic pain for years. He began working with me four months ago and has begun to have stretches where he is pain free. These small steps are exciting, for both of us). If you are trying to make a change, start small. Remember, even a little bit is more than you were doing, and if you are trying to make a change requiring large amounts of focus, embrace the baby steps for long term success.