Have you ever started a new, healthy habit or reached out for medical help knowing it was the right solution… but a few days or weeks later it didn’t work out the way you’d hoped?
Because it stops working, maybe you wondered, “Was it not the right solution all along? I was so sure it was the right thing to do!”
This morning in my studies, during my daily morning routine, I read a wonderful parable of planting seeds. The parable illustrates the results of planting good seeds in barren soil vs. fertile soil.
When you receive and plant a good seed in fertile soil, it takes root and grows to be a strong and healthy tree, able to withstand harsh sun and strong winds, and it bears delicious healthy fruit…
When a good seed is planted in barren soil, soil that has been neglected of consistent care, the tree begins to grow from what care it does receive occasionally, but grows weak and fails to take root… when the storm and harsh sun hits, it withers away and ultimately dies, failing to ever bear fruit.
The thought came to my mind, how am I nourishing, and making my soil fertile? In what ways have I planted good seeds, but neglect in taking care of what I planted?
So about that healthy habit you started, and it just didn’t work out. Was it the wrong solution? Or was it the right thing to do?
Of course it was the right thing to do!
You can plant a good seed in barren soil—much like starting a new healthy habit or taking the right course of treatment—but life gets busy and you fail to tend to that good seed. Perhaps you start skipping much needed healthy habits, making exceptions. So your good seed never took root. A storm or trial in life hit you, and because your new, stable routine wasn’t rooted in good soil, you fell off the wagon. It happens to all of us when our soil isn’t nourished like it needs to be, on a consistent basis.
The good seedling withers and dies. We have to start over again. And sometimes we have to restart, reset, and renew many times before we finally build a consistent habit and routine.
In order for good seeds, good wisdom or healthy treatments to be successful long-term for us, we need to find ways to plant the seed and tend to it regularly. That way it can grow big and strong with firm roots to bear fruit. Hopefully it becomes a regular part of our every-day life in such a way that it’s natural and easy for us to ‘tend to our soil’ and nourish the tree (the healthy habit or course of treatment).
Let me share 5 ways you can tend to and maintain fertile soil for good seeds of wisdom and knowledge. As those seeds take root, so you can build good, healthy habits to prepare for storms ahead.
5 Healthy Ways to Nourish Your Soil for Good Seeds
1. The Food We Eat
“When you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus… Studies have even found that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety.”— Dr. Gabriela Cora “Food for your mood: How what you eat affects your mental health“
“The foods that we eat do affect our moods, feelings and cognitive function. A diet focused on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can help to boost mental health. And specific supplements and diets are proven to help with certain mental health conditions.”— Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research “The Foods We Eat Do Affect Our Mental Health. Here’s the Proof“
2. The Way We Move Our Bodies Throughout the Day
“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.”Dr. Ashish Sharma M.D., Vishal Madaan M.D., Frederick D. Petty M.D. Ph.D — NCBI — “Exercise for Mental Health“
“Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood… Participation in regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and in improving the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.”— Mental Health Foundation “How to look after your mental health using exercise“
3. The Music, Entertainment, and Books We Read
“Cinema therapy can be a powerful catalyst for healing and growth for anybody who is open to learning how movies affect us and to watching certain films with conscious awareness. Cinema therapy allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on our psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change.”— Birgit Wolz, PhD., MFT “How Watching Movies Can Benefit Our Mental Health“
“Research suggests that background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. One study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed, while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.Daniel B. Block MD “How Listening to Music Can Have Psychological Benefits“
Music can inspire and entertain, but it also has powerful psychological effects that can improve your health and well-being. Instead of thinking of music as pure entertainment, consider some of the major mental benefits of incorporating music into your everyday life. You might find that you feel more motivated, happy, and relaxed as a result.”
“Perhaps another reason for the appeal of audio books is that they can help to boost mood.Those of us prone to anxiety and depression understand from bitter experience the negative spin cycle of thoughts that accompanies both mental states. Slowing these thoughts enough to read can be hard, if not impossible. Whereas audio does this for you. For those who find it difficult to quieten their inner demons, listening to someone else read aloud can help by replacing negative thoughts with something else. “— Psychology Today “How Can Audio Books Boost Mental Health?“
4. The Way We Begin our Day
“Multiple studies have shown that establishing routines filled with healthy habits is a great way to move more efficiently through your day while expending less mental energy and even willpower in the process. A 2015 study on the psychology of habits demonstrated that people may rely more heavily on habits when stressed, suggesting that forming healthy routines could help people maintain physical, emotional, and mental health during stressful times.”— Courtney Telloian [GoodTherapy] “11 Tips for a Morning Routine That Supports Mental Health“
“The importance of mental health has been associated with a variety of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, addiction, depression, among others. The reason behind this is that when we organize ourselves and know what to expect, it’s easier to actively work towards counteracting the thoughts and symptoms of any of the aforementioned mental health conditions.— Mariana Plata – Psychology Today – “The Power of Routines in Your Mental Health“
A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that people who favor an active daytime routine over a nighttime one have healthier sleeping cycles. These, consequently, are associated with better mental health and minimize the risk of developing emotional difficulties. Those with an interrupted sleep cycle, on the contrary, have a higher predisposition to manifest mental health difficulties.
Another study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that family routines help to moderate impulsiveness and oppositional symptoms and traits in children. This is not surprising when we understand that routines protect and help children feel safer, because they know what to expect.”
5. The Way We End our Day
“Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.”— Dr. Robert Stickgold – Harvard Medicine – “Sleep, Learning, and Memory“
“Sleep is as important to our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It allows our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to consolidate our memories and process information.— Mental Health Foundation “Sleep Matters: The Impact of Sleep on Health and Wellbeing“
Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.”
Start small. Be realistic with yourself. Avoid setting yourself up for failure. Don’t run faster than you have strength, but continue to challenge yourself. Step outside your comfort zone regularly, and you’ll soon find yourself being less afraid — accomplishing things that used to take a lot more effort before. It will feel so good to feel stronger mentally and emotionally! You can do this! 🙂
These books below have given me great insight into being REAL with myself, and how to start making real change in my life instead of feeling hopeless, I know how to work with my limitations and challenges and use them to my advantage to step outside my comfort zone and build upon small successes for long-term lasting positive change:
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