The Mind-Body Connection: For Improved Health & Wellbeing
By: Holly Cook
Here you go again. Feeling upset, angry, not knowing why. You have been busy lately, and haven’t been taking very good care of yourself mentally or physically. For the first time in a while you sit down and think about what your body might actually need. Where to begin? Well, it’s hard in this day and age to keep up with ourselves. We live in a rushed world, constantly on the move.
The first step in getting back in touch with yourself is to ask yourself what you need. Your mind and body are intermeshed, but still need their own individual recognition. Physically, your body needs nutrition, rest, and down time. Mentally, your body may need more. So you need to figure out if you need something physical or mental? Sometimes the answer is both. This is an effective tool in knowing what your body’s starting point is and where you need to go from there. What’s even more effective is to learn to listen to what your body needs on a regular basis.
A number of activities can help keep you in tune with your body. On the physical side, things such as exercise or sports can help you maintain body awareness. Mentally, journaling, sketching, and reflecting can help you focus on keeping your mind as healthy as possible. The key is to find the thing that helps you, not the latest trend or what your friends are doing. Not everything works for everybody, each person responds differently.
Let’s explore how this body, mind, awareness, can work for you. Physical issues such as stiffness in the body and headache can be hard to deal with. Mental stress can lead to many other issues. It can also lead to physical problems, if ignored. When life becomes too stressful, you can choose to use meditation to relax, focus, and recharge your burnt mind. There are many books and videos that can help guide you into mental meditation. The best way I have found is to find a comfortable place to relax, close your eyes, and start to notice your breathing. Meditation and breathing are linked and can slow heart rate as well as calm nerves. Deep breathing can be used separately or with meditation.
Other ways to gain inner awareness and relax your mental state include guided imagery, music, and focusing on being aware and in the moment. Tools such as Tibetan singing bowls, and squeezing stress balls can all aid in mental relaxation. Baoding balls have been used around the world for meditation and relaxation for centuries. These balls are smooth and give off a soft chime sound. When rolled together in a person’s hands they are quite relaxing. The mind also needs connection with other humans. Each person knows just how much social stimuli they need.
Physical health can also be the starting point of the mind-body connection. Nobody can deny that their body will tell them what it needs. If you look at the very basic needs of the body, nutrition, rest, water, and physical exercise, it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of needs. When a body is ill or lacking in any of these basic care areas, it takes a big toll on the mind as well. Ask yourself if your physical health is being taken care of? Do you have medications, a health condition, or just basic human needs that need to be met? Once these questions are answered, the improvement of your physical health can start.
The first idea to become more physically aware of your body is yoga. Yoga can be practiced in many ways and can be done as a beginner or an experienced yogi. Yoga is designed to move and stretch the body, while combining mental relaxation. Deep breathing and meditation is often part of the practice. All you need is a gripped surface or yoga mat, and a dedication to move and listen to what your body wants.
Another physical stress reliever can be exercise. This can include any type of active exercise or exertion. Just because you exercise doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon! Many martial arts practices also include the mental aspects of focus and breathing to center the person. Sports such as kickboxing and running can be used to burn off excess energy as well as anxiety and stress. These activities can also help get you on a more regular schedule of caring for yourself. Your physical health will only benefit from these suggestions and there are so many more.
Not listening to what your mind and body need can be an issue. The need to connect with your mind and body is so important. It can start a better mental and physical lifestyle. Getting into a consistent routine of checking with yourself both mentally and physically will help support a healthier, happier, and more focused you.