The Mind-Body Connection
by Laura Draskovich
“All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” ~ Buddha
Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, each of us experiences the mind/body connection every day of our lives. Mouth-watering over a delicious looking dessert, or getting nervous butterflies before a particular event are all examples of natural mind/body connections we all experience. It is important to be aware that our thoughts impact us in many ways, some positive and some negative. Your body hears and reacts to everything your mind says. There is a strong connection to what our mind perceives, and how our body reacts as a result. While we tend to think of fitness in terms of exercising to keep the body healthy, emotional fitness is perhaps the precursor that is often neglected.
Feelings of Imbalance
Have you ever felt like you were spread too thin, or were overwhelmed, hanging on by a thread, physically or mentally exhausted? This could be a signal that there is an issue that you need to address. Stress is defined as, “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” It is important to note, chronic stress left unchecked may lead to illness.
The feelings of stress may begin as something like a headache, tight shoulders, sore upper back or neck, weight gain, and high blood pressure. Over time, the state of our mental and emotional health can help or hinder our body’s immune system. Let’s step back and talk about the physiology of stress. When a threat is detected or perceived, our adrenal glands release hydrocortisone, or cortisol, into the bloodstream. This chemical produces the fight or flight (run the race or run from the bear) response. Studies show problems mount when the source of stress is not temporary but becomes constant and chronic. Physical signs of stress are weakened immune system making you more likely to catch a cold or other illnesses, extreme fatigue, racing heart, anxiety, upset stomach, and shortness of breath. Over time, long term stress can make us more susceptible to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and infections.
Incorporating Healthy Habits In Day-to-Day Life
The more that you can improve your mental habits, the more benefits you will get from your body. We all have been there. Life can be very good at doling out the lemons! The truth is, no one is going to feel content with their life one hundred percent of the time. However, you can get back on balance by making a conscious effort toward developing healthy coping mechanisms for life’s trials.
Take care of YOU. Give your body rest. Mental clarity and physical energy will increase, and so will your overall tolerance to things that just seem to pop up. Nutrition will fuel and nourish your body to keep it functioning at an optimal level. Eating healthy foods will also alleviate digestive issues. Exercise is good for the body and the mind. Get your heart rate up, and get a natural high – endorphins! And how about laughter? See the lighter side of life. Setting boundaries by saying no unapologetically to people and situations, that you know are not healthy.
Still More Options to Balance Your Wellness
In addition to these healthy habits to promote emotional health and fitness, there are other ways to achieve balance in your body and mind connection. When you need a mental reset, try these:
- Yoga and Meditation. These will help you to train your mind to stay in the moment, letting go of the past, present and future feelings.
- Massage. Instant relief from tension and muscle soreness. Enough said, I’m making the call!
- Fill your senses with the arts. Listen to music, paint, draw, or craft. Art has a therapeutic effect, don’t you agree? Lose yourself in creativity.
- Take a class or join a club. Try something new. Local community colleges have many classes available that may be fun to attend, either alone or with a friend. Check the schedules online for details.
Just like diet and exercise, emotional fitness is an important aspect of our overall wellness. Nurturing your mind is the key to balance and happiness. The mind/body connection touches every aspect of your life. Being aware of this balance is to be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Developing healthy ways to cope with the lows in life is vital in promoting positive overall health.
Never stop looking up.
Keep living the fit life.
“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”