May 6 to 12 is Mental Health Awareness week.
We chose to focus on mental fitness as an important aspect of overall mental health, and how it relates to alleviating stressors in our daily lives. Managing stress is a proven strategy to prevent more serious illnesses, both mental and physical.
We asked two of our Cannabis Curation Committee members who are well-versed in health and fitness to provide some guidance and inspiration.
Kyle has a personal regimen honed over years of conscious experimentation, involving everything from controlled fasting to freezing cold showers. He shares his perspective on living a finely-tuned and stress-free life below.
Director of Music & Technology + Health-conscious urban professional
Everything in life is a mind game.
– David Goggins
My personal philosophy around mental fitness is that the strengthening of my mind is best done synergistically with my body. I take aim at this by structuring rituals and habits to reduce stress, as well as preparing to deal with the inevitable stress we all face daily.
We’re the CEO of our own lives – if not us, then who? – and with that comes the responsibility of keeping ‘Me Inc.’ running optimally (the term ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ comes to mind).
Developing mental fitness/fortitude is a big component of running ‘Me Inc.’ and a few of my favourite activities and habits to do so include the following.
#1 - Intermittent Fasting (Daily 16/8 fast)
Purpose: Stress-resilience, energy, thought-clarity, fat-burning
16 hours a day fasting and consuming food within an 8-hour window, as well as experimentation with periodic extended fasts beyond that (e.g. more than 16-20 hours).
My routine usually looks like this: ending my eating period at 10:00 pm the night before and breaking my fast at 2:00 pm the following day. Tip: I consume black coffee inside my fasting window – though debatable about still being in a completely fasted state, I feel confident in achieving my desired outcomes with it’s inclusion.
#2 - Meditation
As the Zen proverb goes: You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. In that case, you should meditate for an hour a day.
Purpose: Stress/anxiety reduction, problem-solving and prioritization
This concept has reminded me of the importance of doing the things we sometimes try to talk ourselves out of… especially when we’re talking ourselves out of them!
To get my emotional and mental state back to baseline (e.g. reduce anxiety/stress) and to align myself with my daily and life objectives, meditation has been an incredible tool in my arsenal.
Tip: Drop expectations. Drop negative self-talk. Drop the idea of not doing it because you’re worried you’re ‘doing it wrong.’ Simply commit to sitting in silence with your ‘self’ for 5, 10, 20 minutes per day.
Tip: Experiment with binaural waves as a tool to drop into zone during meditation. I mostly use the Binaural app with a Theta wave (5 - 5.5hz) to best strive for this.
#3 - Cold Showers
My favourite way to start the day.
Purpose: Wakefulness, early mental win, and the plethora of health benefits
The immediate sensations may feel like they’re solely causing a physical transformation (and it does!), but even the act of turning the handle from hot to cold first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day with a mental win.
Shifting my perspective to appreciate how nourishing a cold shower is also helps me to handle how freakin’ cold it is!
Tip: Enjoy the hot water first, but finish the shower with cold water. Create a progression if you must, going with colder and colder increments each day, just like you do weights at the gym.
#4 - Nootropic Supplements
A healthy diet and exercise routine will move the needle on your mental game the most, but when I’m looking to fine tune and support my mental goals, I look to nootropic supplements.
Purpose: Synergistic development of the body and mind
Caffeine & L-Theanine:Both work individually, but when combined I sense an increased state of productivity and concentration while balancing out the jitters that can come with caffeine consumption.
Alpha-GPC: Cognitive function and brain health
Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Cognitive function, memory, mood
Cordyceps Mushroom: Adaptogen, memory & brain health, energy/focus
Creatine: Mental endurance and energy
#5 - Exercise/Movement
The biggest mental advancements occur in this domain when I maintain presence (e.g. find zone) in my training. Sustaining this mental state during my physical effort makes for the most synergistic and effective training sessions, both mentally and physically.
Purpose: Synergistic development of the body and mind
Tips: Fasted training sessions involving movement (hand/eye) along with a difficult, but not maximal, physical effort are ideal for getting me in the ‘zone’ (e.g. boxing, HIIT and not 1-rep squat max). Ideally I want an effort that is challenging enough to push me beyond my comfort zone but not so difficult I cannot complete it, as this is the area where growth occurs.
#6 - Productivity Apps
I aspire to develop my body and mind efficiently deal with life’s demands, but I also recognize the insane amount of information we are required to juggle.
Purpose:Reduce stress, conserve mental energy
Trusting myself to retain it all in my head efficiently and optimally is foolish. As such, I lean on technology and productivity tools to organize my life and minimize the amount of mental energy I spend.
Some of my favourite tools/apps to do this include: 1. Asana (project and task manager)
#7 - Reading
This is my source for acquiring many of the mental models and principles that help guide me through life, manage my stress and optimize my productivity. Know thyself!
Purpose: Stress-reduction, mental reset, development of mental models and principles
Specifically to address stress management and mental fitness, stoic philosophy has been fundamental to this process. It’s incredible how current the words still seem today given the philosophy dates back as far as 3rd Century B.C.
I endeavour to read for a set amount of minutes per day and look to increase this over time.
Tools: The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday
Tip: Utilize commute/wait times by consuming audiobooks/podcasts and other audio-learning modules.
Tip: If the book you’re reading isn’t resonating with you, put it down and find one that is. We only have so many days to read.
This is my personal approach to mental fitness and it has been forged through continual recognition that everything starts first in the mind. I’ve found that the best way to maintain and develop my mental fitness is to consciously respect this realization by committing to the execution of daily rituals and practices over time.
It’s a never-ending mission – there is no final destination and the work is never done, but the journey is very enjoyable, and the rewards of optimal fitness and stress-busting are the best part.
Follow along on our Instagram Story this week to see Cheney and Kyle's tips in action!
Read part 1 of the Mental Fitness Blog by Cheney here