WELLBEING authors Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton are on a mission to help us all live happier, more fulfilled, less stressed lives. The pair will will share some of their techniques to achieve that at Oxford Literary Festival tomorrow, as they discuss the findings of their new book Physical Intelligence.

“Hundreds of chemicals racing through our bodies dictate how we think, feel, speak and behave,” says Claire, pictured right.

“Physiology drives performance, and yet most of us experience physical reactions, emotions and thoughts without realising that we can transform them.

“Physical intelligence is the ability to detect and actively manage the balance of those chemicals so that we can achieve more, stress less and live more happily.

“This is important because we’re living in a time of unprecedented change. As humans we’re not evolving as quickly as the pace of change, leading many of us to feel threatened or overwhelmed.”

She adds: “In each of those situations, and more, physical intelligence helps us get in the driver’s seat of our brain and body, thinking more clearly, acting more thoughtfully and intentionally so that we can be our best self.

“Physical Intelligence is the ultimate skillset for succeeding in modern everyday life – the secret to a happier, less stressed, more fulfilled you.”

So how can we improve our physical intelligence?

The Oxford Times:

Patricia Peyton

“There are literally hundreds of physical intelligence techniques – breathing techniques, movements, thought processes and ways to communicate – well supported by neuroscience and which are easy to incorporate into our daily lives. Some only take seconds.”

She says the techniques fall into four categories that form the backbone of physical intelligence:

• Strength: Inner strength, confidence, appropriate risk-taking, performing well under pressure

• Flexibility: Creativity, innovation, collaboration, respecting, engaging and influencing others, being agile and quick-thinking, embracing and instigating change

• Resilience: Bouncing back from adversity and conflict, being optimistic, adopting a learning mindset

• Endurance: Having staying power and determination, focusing on and achieving long-term goals, finding intrinsic motivation

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She goes on: “The more we use physical intelligence techniques and understand the neuroscience that underpins our behaviour the more we can control the cocktail of chemicals in our brains and bodies, and build our strength, flexibility, resilience and endurance, so that we can achieve more, stress less and live more happily.”

The Oxford Times:

Claire Dale

And the pair offer the following tips to get us started:

1) Build Strength

  • Enhanced Strength starts with good posture and breathing. Stand/sit up straight and practice paced breathing (releases acetylcholine) every day.
  • To reduce nerves and increase confidence (balancing cortisol and adrenalin), stand in a winner (starfish) pose for two minutes before key events.

2) Build Flexibility

  • To reduce cortisol and boost oxytocin, dopamine, DHEA and serotonin, identify ‘hot spots’ where you hold tension in your body and work on stretches to release them.
  • Shake out your arms and legs and twist at the waist twice a day. Move for two to four hours a day.
  • Spark creativity by taking a walk or looking at beautiful objects in art or nature.
  • Build Resilience: Maintain optimal cortisol levels by blocking out time in your schedule each week for REST (Retreat, Eat [healthy], Sleep and Treat).
  • If you’re dwelling on something, talk to someone you trust about it, then commit to letting it go.
  • Smile at yourself in the mirror every morning. It boosts serotonin.

3) Build Endurance

  • Show appreciation (boosting dopamine in both of you).
  • Shower in cold water for the last 30 seconds to improve energy.
  • If your willpower weakens or you’re resisting doing something necessary, literally flexing your muscles (such as clenching your fists) and saying out loud, “Come on, you can do this!” will boost dopamine.

Try it today!

Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton’s Physical Intelligence is published by Simon & Schuster, £14.99).

Catch them at Oxford Literary Festival at noon tomorrow, Friday April 5, at Oxford Martin School Seminar Room. Tickets are available from oxfordliteraryfestival.org

The Oxford Times: