Hey, I’m Ben Jones. I work at one of the UK’s leading mental health hospitals as the fitness coordinator. I have helped hundreds of people relieve the nasty symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress with my unique exercise and nutrition principles I call ‘Lifestyle Triggers’. To learn more check out my website https://3steplifestyle.com/ and my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/3steplifestyle/.
Depression. Anxiety. For me it was like a brick wall…
I wanted to enjoy time with my friends and family… Brick wall.
I wanted to go to work… Brick wall.
I wanted to go on holiday… Brick wall.
Constantly hitting this brick wall was getting exhausting and making things in life very difficult. It felt like it cast it’s dark shadow on me the whole time, it was clouding my thoughts, perception and future. But I managed to find my own way of breaking this wall down and it wasn’t a traditional way…….I relieved my own depression and anxiety with 2 ‘Lifestyle Triggers’.
You probably have one big question…What is a lifestyle trigger? Stick with me and I’ll teach you what they are.
But first, my own story…
I first noticed my anxiety when I was at university studying exercise science. The stress of the course built up and up. Luckily my anxiety didn’t fully kick in until just after university. I actually excelled, putting my nervous energy to some use and I learnt some very valuable information about how the body works. I didn’t realise just how valuable this information would be to me until a couple of years later. More on this coming up.
So, after uni there was a lot of uncertainty in my life and my body was still filled with stress and anxiety, which had built up through uni.
All the small tasks in my life suddenly felt huge, just getting on the bus was a struggle at times, with my adrenalin jacked, for what I thought was for no reason. Then I stopped enjoying things I used to enjoy. I was getting strange symptoms like; ringing ears, felt like I was living in a bubble, low mood. I started to feel really disconnected with my senses and the world around me. It was really unnerving and I felt like there was something really wrong with me. I found myself feeling grateful if my anxiety wasn’t bad, I felt pathetic. Looking back I was being very hard on myself.
So I looked into the only thing I really understood. Everything I learned through my degree… Exercise and nutrition, and figured something out that could really help me. It’s ironic, the very information I was studying that triggered my anxiety and stress, was the very information that saved me. It helped me create something I now call ‘Lifestyle Triggers’. These lifestyle triggers help to fine tune a few things in your body that help to create a state where the symptoms of depression and anxiety are easier to deal with.
Don’t look at it as a rebalancing a chemical imbalance, but more that you are just fine tuning a few things to create a state where there is more serenity and harmony in your body, so depression and anxiety are more likely to decrease. Let’s call this increasing your ‘Optimal State’.
Right, here are the 2 lifestyle triggers that me create my own optimal state…
1) Flexible Exercise- Creating a Positive Exercise Stress Axis
Using my knowledge, I developed an exercise program. I know you have probably heard exercise is good for mental health, but this type of exercise was a bit different and unique, let me explain. I knew it had to be different from traditional exercise, as normal exercise stresses the body and then the body adapts to that stress. But I wouldn’t want to stress an already stressed body. For someone with high levels of adrenalin and cortisol, normal exercise could overload the body and not give it the chance to adapt, therefore making me feel worse.
Make sense? Good let’s keep going.
So I created very short ‘Flexible Exercise’ workouts, 10/20/30 minutes long. I call it flexible exercise, as the workouts are so short they can fit in with the unpredictable nature of depression and anxiety. These workouts gave my body a chance to adapt to the stress of exercise therefore meaning my stress levels where lower when I was at rest. I call this creating a positive ‘exercise-stress axis’. To learn more on what flexible exercise actually is, when and how to do it, check out my blog: How I Helped 400 People With Flexible Exercise.
2) Nutritional Balance- Creating a Positive Food-Mood Constant
Secondly, I looked at my diet. This was more simple than you might think. I look at it like this…
Every single food you put in your body has a constant effect on your depression and anxiety symptoms. Some foods will increase symptoms, while other will decrease symptoms. I call this dynamic the ‘Food-Mood Constant’. The idea is to create a positive food-mood constant. I just had to make two simple changes to make.
-Cut out ‘Negative Trigger Foods’. These are foods that trigger a negative response to your food-mood constant and increase your symptoms. Often these foods are heavily processed or very imbalanced in unnatural ingredients. The problem is a lot of these negative trigger foods are hidden in foods with clever marketing. To learn what these are check out my article- The 2 Major Flaws in Your Modern Diet That Cause Anxiety and Stress.
-Roughly eat the correct balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates and fibre in most meals. This is an eating habit that supplies the brain with the energy and building blocks needed to function optimally, therefore increasing the chance of a positive food-mood constant.
I looked at these changes in my lifestyle as ‘lifestyle triggers’, as they were triggering a positive response to my ‘Optimal State’. The more consistent I was with them, the more my anxiety and depression symptoms decreased. Over time, my symptoms reduced right down. I wasn’t sure if this was due to the lifestyle triggers or if my body and mind had just naturally de-stressed.
A perfect opportunity came up for me to test my theories…A job. The fitness coordinator at a leading mental health hospital. I went for it and I got it!
I have now been there for 4 years, where I have developed and refined my approach. I have helped many people with depression and anxiety with these lifestyle triggers. Check out an article I wrote about a group of teenagers who followed my principles: The 3 Lifestyle Triggers I Used To Help 12 Teenagers Relieve Depression and Anxiety.
I hope this blog has helped you feel empowered and has shown you, you can take control and help yourself. I’m not saying this is the complete answer, but, that these lifestyle triggers can really help alongside therapies and medical advice. Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, always seek medical advice and talk to a doctor. These things are nothing to be ashamed of. If you found this useful please like and share, as it might help someone else going through the same thing.