These small decisions can have a BIG impact on your health

Ask any Alaskan bear getting ready to hibernate and they’ll tell you that the secret to a successful winter is loading up on as much salmon as possible.

The bear instinctively knows not to wait until the river is frozen over to build its reserves. Instead, it’s an everyday task, where each moment counts towards surviving and thriving later.

Just like the bear, nearly every choice you make has a lasting effect on your life and well being. That’s why it’s so important to always make deliberate and conscious decisions—especially when it comes to your health.

It’s this mindset—purposeful decision making—that I’m suggesting we adopt from here on out.

The choice is yours

Each moment of your day offers you a chance to use your energy for something that depletes you, or something that “fills you up” and renews you.

Simply put, these choices can be broken down into one simple sentence.

“Instead of_________________, I’ll  ________________.”

For example:

  • “Instead of checking Facebook, I’ll do 5 minutes of slow deep breathing.”
  • “Instead of worrying, I’ll spend 60 seconds thinking of someone or something for which I’m grateful.”
  • “Instead of watching the news before bed, I’ll do a sound healing exercise like Brain Humming to clear my mind and prepare for deep restful sleep.”

Notice that in each case, there’s no “extra” time taken out of your day. Instead, you’re simply substituting activities that drain your energy with ones that restore and renew it.

But these small, purposeful changes can have a big impact on your health.

Why?

Because they help reduce chronic stress.

Repair the chronic stress leak

We all experience stress every now and then, but if you feel as if you’re stuck in a vicious cycle where you just can’t shake a looming feeling of dread, have trouble relaxing, or are constantly overwhelmed or worried…you could be suffering from chronic stress.

Chronic stress can take a toll on your health because it slows down your body’s natural healing processes—specifically your immune system. And the more stressed you are, the LONGER it takes for your body to heal itself.

Not only that, but chronic stress also produces an abundance of the stress hormone cortisol. And when cortisol builds up in the body, it breaks down muscle, organ, and brain tissue.

If it continues for long enough, it can lead to serious problems like cardiovascular disease and memory problems.

But, once again, making purposeful decisions about how you spend your energy throughout the day can go a long way in combatting chronic stress.

And in addition to those small changes to your everyday decision making, there’s also another way you can keep your stress levels in check and build your energy and healing reserves. It’s simple, easy, and you can do it in just minutes a day…

Fill your self-healing “well” with sound                               

I typically use this exercise right before bed. It helps to initiate deep relaxation and prepare you for sleep—which is when the body does much of its repair work.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make yourself comfortable.
  2. Take a very slow breath in through the nose.
  3. Exhale through the nose.
  4. Inhale deeply again.
  5. As you exhale, make the sound “Ahhhm,” (like the word “calm”) for the full exhalation.
  6. Do 4-8 repetitions or whatever feels best for you.
  7. Complete the exercise by breathing slowly in and out through your nose.

Making the “Ahhhm” sound activates your vagus nerve—the longest cranial nerve that spans from the bottom of your brain stem and touches every major organ. This “turns on” your parasympathetic nervous system—your body’s rest and digest system. And it’s in this parasympathetic state that your body can finally do the job it was built to do—repair and restore you to health!

Remember, healing takes time. And each time you make a conscious, purposeful choice to do something that renews you rather than depletes you, you take one step closer to feeling better.

Jim Donovan image
About the author

Jim Donovan M.Ed., is a professional musician and educator. He's an Assistant Professor at Saint Francis University where he teaches music and how the power of sound can help you experience a healthier life.