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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 two 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 onto 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 head-space 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. Go on a wellness retreat. 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 in 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 actually 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 Closer to Your Body

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 on 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.

Move More!

Try to avoid sitting for long periods of time. At work, try to move or stretch every 1-2 hours. Fit in about 15-30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. It’s about using your body for more than just sitting. This will strengthen your awareness of it, as well as put your overall health first by preventing various life-threatening diseases.

In addition to moving more, take your workouts outside. Reconnect with yourself in a bigger space, as opposed to the confines of your office or apartment. These spaces also offer time, again, away from technology - allowing a little bit of a detox and giving you that time to look within yourself.

Don’t Aim to Please Everyone

If you always please everyone, you’ll lose yourself in the process. The mind-body connection is about strengthening the critical and unique version of you. It’s about knowing yourself.

It’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes and say no. In truth, sometimes it’s entirely necessary. You can’t do everything - no one can. And that’s completely fine. If others aren’t okay with it, it might be time to consider creating space between you and them. This way you’ll stay true to yourself.

Become More Self-Aware

Heighten your mind-body connection. It’s not difficult. Yet, like most things in life, it does require a tiny 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 increased mind-body awareness. It’s helpful. Start including mindfulness living practices into your life today. Watch your happiness soar and your life improve!

Related Article: The Top 5 Communication Mistakes You’re Making

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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