Have you ever noticed that when anxiety sets in, your muscles also tend to tighten up? Or how depression can drain your physical energy, making it difficult to get out of bed. That’s because the mind and body are so intricately linked that even a small change in one is enough to impact the other.
Muscle tension, for example, is a reaction to emotional stress. You could say it’s the body’s way of protecting itself from discomfort. So if you’re experiencing chronic pain, for example, there may be more to it than a bad ergonomic setup.
Read on for our tips on how to improve the mind-body connection. After all, strengthening this relationship can dramatically increase your quality of life.
1) Take active breaks to improve your mind-body connection
Ask most people what some of their biggest stresses are, and a demanding career or family dysfunction will probably top the list. Although it may not be easy to solve these issues overnight, you can take small, conscious steps throughout the day to lessen the emotional burden.
Step away from stressful situations by taking active breaks. Schedule these moments into your itinerary the way you’d schedule a lunch break or morning run. And it’s not enough to just clear your mind; you must physically step aside. Whether it’s getting up from your desk or walking away from an argument, momentarily removing yourself from a problem may actually help you solve it.
2) Fix your posture
Straightening your back is not only good for your spine, but can boost your confidence, too. For example, standing up tall can signal to others that you’re putting your best foot forward. And sitting up straight can improve your focus.
Make changes to your workstation. Invest in a good chair, as well as a keyboard tray and mouse pad. These small adjustments can have a big impact on not only your posture, but your emotional composure as well.
3) Be mindful of your facial expressions
Do you walk around with a pout all day? Many facial expressions are habitual, and you may not even notice that you’re frowning or squinting at others. But sometimes, a simple smile can help break negative thought patterns. Laughing, for example, can boost your endorphin levels, and even make others feel more comfortable. This domino effect can help reduce tension during stressful situations. It can also change the way people approach you, and respond to your requests.
4) Spend time in nature
Nothing is more invigorating than spending time in the great outdoors. A brisk walk through the autumn leaves or a long bike ride along the countryside can refocus your mind on what truly matters. Let go of petty arguments and materialistic greed by spending some time each day in your natural surroundings.
Simple meditation can also help with anxiety, and even chronic pain. A lot of the tension in our bodies stems from emotional stress. Meditation is about allowing yourself to acknowledge discomfort, without self-judgment. This process can actually reinvigorate the body, which can then rejuvenate the mind.
5) Exercising improves the mind-body connection
Research has shown that exercise can alleviate mild depression, just as effectively as antidepressants. It’s just another example of the profound connection between physical well-being and emotional stability. Exercising is an effective way to break the negative thought patterns associated with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Other benefits include:
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Stronger resilience
Just recently, a team of Canadian health experts released its 24-Hour Movement Guideline for Adults. The document states everyone should include a bit of light, physical activity each day. For those who hate hitting the gym -- gardening, house chores, and even walks around the neighbourhood are great ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
As you can see, there are many ways to improve the mind-body connection. But sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to get a little help along the way. Massage therapy and acupuncture, for example, can rejuvenate your mental health; while improving blood circulation and relieving muscle tension. So visit Physiomed for our holistic, interdisciplinary approach to wellness. And let us help strengthen the relationship between your mind and body, without invasive treatments or prescription meds.
For more information on improving the mind-body connection or to book an assessment, contact us here.