Strengthening Your Mind-Body Connection
Ever notice how you feel more mentally clear after physical activity? Or you feel physically better when your mental state is calm and collected? The 2 are interlinked. When you strengthen one, you also strengthen the other.
You’d be hard-pressed to argue differently. When we get overly anxious or nervous, physical symptoms such as nausea or dizziness appear. When we catch a cold or the flu, we feel mentally drained.
It’s surprising that it has taken us this long to catch on to the undeniable mind-body connection. However, strengthening that connection is critical for optimal overall health and happiness. You become more in tune with your body. What can it withstand? What can’t it? You get to know yourself better. You begin to understand how certain feelings and emotions manifest.
And then, you are able to control them. You become a better person - a more happy, satisfied, and in-control version of you.
Today, we are constantly distracted from our feelings and ourselves. It’s easy. You dive into the vast amount of information on the internet or that next Netflix binge. You suppress your feelings, as well as any opportunity to understand them.
So, how do you strengthen your mind-body connection?
Like most good things in life, it takes work. Essentially, it all comes down to mindfulness practice - living in the moment - just being. But again, how do you do that?
Try a Digital Detox
Digital devices are distracting. Not to mention, we don’t exactly know the consequences of the long-term use of most of these devices (I mean - some of them have only been around for a decade or so - right?). We just don’t know exactly how they are transforming our physical or mental being.
Most of the time, they distract you from reality and from feeling. They put us in a headspace outside ourselves. But strengthening your mind-body connection comes from within.
A digital detox can be a regular break that you sorely need. Plan a couple of hours to partake in other activities. Think reading, playing a musical instrument, meditation, knitting, crafts, yoga - anything that requires zero digital technology. Plus, most of these activities require some sort of motor movement.
Or if you want to go full out - try a weekend away. Book a remote cabin or camping spot. Reconnect with yourself - with your body and your mind.
Regularly Practice Meditation or Breathing Techniques
It’s not just a fad. Meditation actually improves your well-being. Bonus: It strengthens your mind-body connection! Remember, strengthening your mind-body connection incorporates mindfulness living techniques. Meditation is a pillar of this.
Focus on your breath when meditating. As you inhale, breath properly. And by this, I mean fill your belly and chest. Expand your entire stomach as you take in as much air as you can. Surprisingly, this is how we should be breathing. Most of us are chest-breathers (which is limiting how much oxygen you could be taking in!).
You can check by lying face-up and placing your hands on your stomach. Practice expanding your belly with each breath. Once you get used to this, close your eyes or leave them slightly open, focusing on one spot. Inhale, then exhale. Count 1. Inhale, then exhale. Count 2. You don’t have to say the number out loud. If you want, you can. This is your meditation practice. It’s different for each person. But you can also count in your head on each exhale.
Go slow. Fill your belly with air. Count up to 10, then go backward. Do this for a couple minutes or as long as you like. The goal is to reconnect with yourself and your breath. Start small and aim to do this practice a couple times a week. Eventually, aim for a daily practice. You’ll find you feel calmer, better, and ready to take on anything that comes your way.
Anxious? Practice Progressive Relaxation
Anxiety masks the tension that builds in the muscles. You tend to not notice it. Progressive relaxation not only makes you more aware of how you are holding yourself, but also helps you relax.
How do you do it? Find a comfortable position (I find lying down is great - but whatever works for you). Start on one side of your body. Slowly focus in on your feet and ankles. Release any tension you feel in them. Let your legs feel heavy where you sit or lie. Slowly continue up your body - noting any tension and progressively relaxing it. Do both sides of your body.
The whole process takes about 10-15 minutes. When you first start, take 5-8 deep breaths and then settle into trying to relax your body - one part at a time.
Listen to Your Body More
If you get a gut feeling, stick to it. Your body is trying to tell you something. For example, if your boss asks you to take on a new project and you immediately feel your stomach drop, it might be best to pay some attention to it. Your body is saying no, we can’t handle a bigger workload. We are already overwhelmed. Take these cues more seriously. Don’t override your gut reactions with your mind every time.
Do Posture Checks
This is a good one for individuals who sit in an office all day. Set alarms. At these alarms, check in with yourself. Are you leaning forward onto your desk? Is your back hunched? Is your neck craned forward? Adjust where necessary. Become more aware of how you sit throughout the day. Poor posture can lead to an array of conditions and pain.
Soon, you won’t even need the alarms. You’ll be checking in with your body based off of how you feel. In addition, if you do start to get really sore sitting, take regular breaks. Stretch it out! Give your body what it needs.
Become More Self-Aware
Heighten your mind-body connection. It’s not difficult. It does take a bit of work. But it’s doable. And it leads to increased happiness. When you aren’t feeling well, you are more likely to pinpoint why when you have an increased mind-body awareness. It’s helpful. Start including mindfulness living practices into your life today. Watch your happiness soar and your life improve!