Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me for another episode of the More Than You See podcast hosted by me, actor, filmmaker mental health advocate, Deborah Lee Smith. Every Monday, I come to you to share some resources, have a conversation and generally just dive into all sorts of topics around mental health. I am not a licensed practitioner or therapist, but just a woman exploring my own mental health journey and sharing it with you, the listener. My hope is that this podcast brings you some joy, some understanding, and some tools so that you can build your own mental health toolbox.
In today's episode, Episode Four, we are going to dive into a book that I have found to be so impactful and important for my own mental health journey. And ironically, it's not really a book about mental health at all. But I think by the end of this episode, you'll really understand why this book means so much to me, and why it has been so instrumental in understanding myself, understanding my brain and my motivations, and how I pull myself out of really difficult situations and dark times.
Now, before we dive in, I just want to say, again, thank you so much to everyone who has been rating and reviewing the podcast, sharing it on social media, it means so much that this is resonating with you all and please keep it coming, please continue to share this podcast and spread this joy and understanding around mental health. I think that together, we can really revolutionize some ideas around mental health. So thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Okay, let's dive in.
So as I said, this book, so incredibly important to me. It's called The Power of Full engagement by Jim Loehr, and Tony Schwartz. It is a book about how we have always been told that we have to manage our time, and that there's a whole huge, you know, industry set up around how we manage our time. But the thing we actually need to pay attention to, is how we manage our energy. Because it's it of course, time is finite, but even more so, energy is finite. And I think you all can certainly understand that when it comes to - if you've got a task that you're focusing on, you come to a point in that task where your body and your brain just starts to shut down and you can't focus anymore. Or if you've had a really, really long day at work, and then you go home, and you have to deal with your kids. And that's what it feels like you have to "deal" with them, you don't enjoy them, you don't want to engage with them. It's because we have a finite amount of energy in a day. And so this book is really about how to manage your energy and how this is the key to both personal performance and personal renewal.
Now, the reason why I think this book is so incredibly important for mental health, is because over the last year, we've really seen what happens when we have an excess amount of time, and are forced to confront our own relationship with ourselves our own relationship with the world around us. And thankfully, this period that we're in is going to end. And there's going to be a stress to get back into the hustle culture that has permeated so many of our lives previous to this pandemic. And I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about when it comes to hustle culture. There's this idea that being busy is a badge of honor, and it's something that you should strive for. And this is certainly something that I struggle with a lot. I balance a lot of different things in my life. And it's really easy when someone asks me how I am to just say busy and I've been trying really hard to actually not use that word. And instead, when someone asks me how I'm doing really think about an answer with a more specific description about how exactly that I'm doing. And that requires a lot of self reflection and an understanding my own feelings, like I talked about in Episode Two and how important that is. But the reason why this book is so incredibly important is because it really dives into our brains and why our brains need a break. why we have to give ourselves time to process things, to feel our feelings to grow as people. Those times off are just as important as the stress that we put on ourselves throughout our lives. And so we're going to talk about that today.
I do think the one positive thing coming out of the pandemic is that we have all had a new understanding and appreciation for time away, for time with our loved ones, for time with ourselves, and I really think that this book is so key for everyone to read right now to really understand the importance of taking time for yourself. Again, as we reach this new paradigm, and we go back into the world opening up again, first of all, I want to address the importance of actually putting stress on our bodies. Now we know this when it comes to building muscle, I'm sure you've heard that if you go to the gym, and you lift weights, that you have little muscle tears in your muscle. Those little micro tears is what causes your muscles to become stronger. Because as the muscle repairs itself, it repairs itself with just like, a little bit stronger muscle this and there, clearly, I am not a trainer at all. But that's that's the general idea. Now the same is true when it comes to emotions when it comes to every other facet of our body. And that's why, you know, my therapist has said to me so many times, it's so important to feel those emotions. Because again, the more that you feel that that emotion, the more that you can actually start to recognize it and then once again, deal with it in a quicker and quicker way. Because our brains are processing things way faster than we actually are aware of it, and so it is so important to feel those emotions so that your brain puts little markers and goes, this is jealousy, this is anger, this is happiness, this is what these emotions are. And then in the future, you can really recognize those emotions and process them in the most effective way when we, you know, exercise our brain by learning a new language by learning a new skill that is all putting stress on our brain.
So I definitely do not want you to walk away from this thinking that stress is bad, because it's definitely not. The importance is knowing how to balance that stress and that recovery. I want to read something from a chapter of this book, because I think it will really explain all of these ideas in a really perfect digestible way. And really get to the heart of the topic.
Now we all know what circadian rhythms are. Now that is, of course, when you go to sleep and then when you wake up, if we actually, you know, do that following the natural progression of the sun and the moon, that's your circadian rhythm. In the 1950s. they realized that the sleep cycle actually occurs in 90 and 120 minute segments. And this is when we move to light sleep, and then into REM sleep, which I'm sure that you all have heard about that. So, they've actually realized that there's actually a very similar type of rhythm in our waking time as well. This is what I'm going to read. So it says that in the 1970s, they realized that this same sort of rhythm, they're calling it the ultradian rhythm operates in our waking lives as well. The ultradian rhythm helps to account for the ebb and flow of our energy throughout the day. They studied different measures such as heart rate, hormonal levels, muscle tension, brainwave activity, etc, realized that after an hour or so, these measures started to decline. Somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes, the body began to crave a period of rest and recovery. And then skipping forward a little bit, what it says is that we have difficulty concentrating, an inclination to procrastinate or fantasize, and a higher incidence of mistakes. And then even further in the paragraph, this is what's just like blows my mind, is it says, so we are capable of overriding those natural cycles, but only by summoning the fight or flight response and flooding our bodies with stress hormones that are designed to help us handle emergencies.
So breaking that down into a very, you know, layman's terms, what this is saying is that if you do not give yourself a chance to relax, you are actually causing more stress and toxin buildup in your body, which will then cause more stress and toxin build up. So basically, the busier that we are, the more that we are used to being busy and it just it goes into this cycle.
So now we've understood why living in that stress cycle is so unhealthy for our bodies, ehat can we do about it, because I am certainly someone who just, I honestly at this point - I sort of crave that busyness that is just the cycle. I am really stuck in that cycle. And it's really difficult for me to break it. This book focuses a lot on purpose. It's so important to find our purpose and to find the thing that fuels us so that we can focus our energy and yes, our time on that specific thing as the world begins to open up, and we are able to get back to our quote unquote "normal lives" in some sense of normalcy.
We really have a time right now to look back at our old lives and decide which are the things that we want to keep and which are the things that no longer serve us. What are the things? What are the relationships? What are the tasks and hobbies that we had, that don't make us happy? Of course, we all have different things that we have to do throughout our lives in order to exist, pay our taxes, feed ourselves, take showers, go for walks, all of the things. But outside of that, what is going to be the thing that fuels you? I think that right now, we really have the time to dive into that. And that's such a gift. So I strongly encourage you to pick up this book, The Power of Full Engagement, and really dive into what is your purpose and how you can manage your time going forward.
I know that even the past couple months, I have gotten so much better about managing my energy. I have really established some boundaries when it comes to how I spend my time and what I spend my time on, and I encourage you to do the same. I know that so many people are rushing back to work and rushing back into the idea of succeeding and success in such a very specific and often frustrating way. I certainly know that I have already felt like I'm behind, and yet we're still in the middle of a pandemic. I encourage you to remind yourself that number one, you're not, you are where you're supposed to be. And number two, I think that a lot of times people are focusing again, on being busy, they're focusing on achieving something, because they think that achieving something is going to get them closer to that purpose without actually completely understanding what that purpose is.
Throughout the beginning of the book, they have some different principles that they introduce to inspire your new energy focused life. Principle number three is to build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that athletes do. We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity. So it's very important to expend energy beyond our ordinary limits, and then recover from it. And I hope that now you understand why I think this is such an important book when it comes to our mental health. Recovery from different mental health disorders, is all about understanding ourselves and others, and it's really about processing going through whatever we're feeling and processing it with the help of a, you know, licensed practitioner, or medication or a change in your environment, or a specific focus on spirituality. Whatever the concoction of things that you need, in order to process what's going on in your life, we all have to do that work and process. But this book really reminds us that after we do that process, after we push ourselves beyond the ordinary limits, we then have to recover. And that recovery is just as important as that purposeful energy. And if we don't actually exercise those emotional, mental and spiritual muscles, then they lose strength. Just like if you stop lifting weights, your muscles lose strength, the same thing happens with our emotional, mental and spiritual capacity.
So this week, feel your feelings. Put some, you know, emotional stress on yourself in some way that will allow you to understand yourself and everyone else a little bit better. Because as I say, every week, we are all more than you see. If you would like to check out this book, I have a link in the show notes. I have some more information about it on my website. I really look forward to hearing what you think about this book. Please let me know if you know this resonated with you. Again, thank you so much for spending your time with me. And I really look forward to the topics that I'm going to be covering in the next few weeks. Thank you so much for listening. I'll see you next week.