“If the mind is tranquil and occupied with positive thoughts, the body will not easily fall prey to disease.” – Dalai Lama XIV
Study after study confirms that physical and mental health are intimately intertwined. The body’s biology and chemistry directly influence our state of mind, and our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs strongly affect the processes associated with physiological well-being.
This relationship is crucial for the healthy functioning of both body and mind, so it makes sense that it’s widely known as the mind-body connection. Here are 21 powerful to-dos that may help you restore and strengthen this supremely beneficial balance, with immediate and long-term results.
21 To-Dos To Improve Your Mind-Body Connection
1. Practice meditation
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to connect the mind and body. During the practice, you experience a state of peaceful awareness in which your body is resting while your mind stays quiet, yet awake. Meditation helps you let go of negative thoughts and feelings and achieve profound relaxation. Even ten to 15 minutes of this mindful practice each day is shown to dissolve fatigue, anxiety, and stress and reduce chronic pain.
2. Master deep breathing
Focusing on your breath is one of the simplest but most powerful tools for restoring balance to your mind and body. A few deep, mindful breaths may increase your awareness of the present moment, help you calm down, and reduce the “fight or flight” stress response. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath that expands your diaphragm, exhale slowly, and repeat this a few times. You will feel more serene but also more alert and ready for any external stimuli.
3. Stick with healthy eating
The importance of a healthy diet can’t be overlooked when it comes to the connection between physical and mental health. The food we consume must be nourishing and both prepared and eaten mindfully. Dietitians recommend including the six basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal, focusing on eating fresh and freshly cooked foods and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, and avoiding items that are canned, frozen, microwaved, or highly processed.
4. Stay hydrated
Up to 60 percent of our body is composed of water. Adequate hydration is needed for every cell, tissue, and organ to function properly. Studies show that lack of water causes several physical and mental issues, like headaches, fatigue, and more. So even when rushing through a busy day, we need to stay hydrated, sipping water continuously wherever we are and whatever we’re doing.
5. Make sleep a priority
A good night’s rest is an essential key to health and vitality. Sleep deprivation is proven to lead to imbalances in primary body and brain functions, weaken our immune system, and cause anxiety and depression. The average adult needs eight hours of restful sleep each night, meaning that you should quickly fall asleep on your own, not using pharmaceuticals or alcohol. Feeling energetic, vibrant, and enthusiastic when you wake up are the signs of good sleep quality.
6. Spend time in nature
Studies show that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature can boost both your mental and physical health. Nature therapy rejuvenates and clears up your mind and senses. Overall, spending time outdoors helps you ground and connect to reality. Even when the weather does not feel welcoming, getting outside into the fresh air is always beneficial for longevity and healthy living.
7. Engage in daily exercise
Regular exercise unlocks incredible benefits both for your body and mind. Not only does it keep the body healthy, strong, and young, but physical activity also boosts the brain’s cognitive functions and promotes emotional well-being. A balanced workout program should include three major components: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and stretching. At least 20 to 30 minutes of exercising a day may help you improve your body and mind vitality.
8. Practice yoga
Yoga is an ancient and ultimate mind-body exercise that unites controlled breathing and precise physical movements. In addition to lengthening and strengthening your muscles and improving your balance and range of motion, its meditative, relaxing, and calming qualities help your mind reconnect with the physical sensations in your body.
9. Do Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese practice aimed to simultaneously develop the mind and body and thus enhance the mind-body connection. It combines mental focus, breathing, and slow, rhythmic movements that spur a unique sense of awareness. Tai Chi drives your mind into a state of relaxed concentration while your body improves its muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.
10. Take active breaks
Taking active breaks from work is another excellent way to reconnect with your physical body and focus on the present moment instead of the to-do list in your head. Wake up your body at least once an hour for a short walk and do some stretches to release tension. Physically stepping away from work tasks or challenges is proven to give your brain a chance to regroup and develop a better solution.
11. Release toxic emotions
Unprocessed emotional residue from the past, like hurt, disappointment, or anger, harbors severe toxicity to both your mind and body and it might be holding you back without you even realizing it. Eliminate emotional toxins by asking yourself what things from the past no longer benefit you in the present. Imagine how your life will change after you clean up from them, and then sincerely declare to yourself that you are letting them go.
12. Embrace the moment
Learn to appreciate the beauty in small moments and evoke positive emotions within yourself, like happiness, joy, love, and gratitude. Regularly review your work, home, social, and online activities, so you can determine what needs to be removed or shortened to get you more space for spontaneity and fun in the present moment.
13. Enjoy hearty laughter
Laughter is a science-backed mind-body phenomenon proven to reduce the production of stress hormones and boost the immune system. When we laugh, our heart, lungs, and muscles get stimulated, and our mood lifts immediately. Watch something that you consider funny and enjoy a burst of good laughter at least once a day.
14. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is the ultimate mind-body practice. It helps reduce sadness and increase happiness and works as a trigger for your brain to activate healing processes within your body and mind. Giving thanks makes you feel connected to something larger than yourself and allows you you reap the benefits of having more satisfaction with life, feel less materialistic, and more spiritually connected.
15. Keep a journal
Journaling is an effective way to deal with everyday worries. Physically downloading them from your mind by putting ink to paper is proven to produce positive outcomes, helping you de-stress and approach the problem more mindfully. Another widespread practice is keeping a gratitude journal. The simple act of writing down the things you are grateful for makes a great positive contribution to your overall well-being, improves your mood, and increases feelings of joy and confidence.
16. Limit screen time
Mobile phones, social media, and television are ultimate distractors that can instantly make you feel disconnected. It’s essential to learn to power the devices down to feel more present and live a fuller and more engaged life. Start with 20 to 30 minutes of disconnected time each day and keep extending your digital detox time to the entire afternoon or even a weekend. Unplugging at least an hour before bedtime is proven to help you experience better sleep.
17. Cultivate loving relationships
Good social support has a significant impact on our physical and mental well-being. Friends and loved ones prevent you from feeling lonely, give you advice in difficult situations, and support you in handling your problems. Time spent with them can be an excellent distraction from your worries.
18. Be mindful of your posture
Body postures are not just reflections of the mind – they are proven to influence our mood. Try standing tall with your shoulders wide open and head up high and feel your confidence grow. Facial expressions require attention too, as the brain uses them as signals to feel emotions. Applying a smile can actually make you feel happier.
19. Be grateful for your senses
Overloaded with daily tasks, we often lose sight of our physical and natural senses like smell, taste, and touch. However, it doesn’t require much effort to engage with them and bring your attention back to your body. You may consider keeping a bottle of essential oil at your desk or something soft over your chair to help you return to these feelings during the workday. Make time to eat your lunch slowly and mindfully, even on the busiest days. And think of getting a massage after work to release tension, improve blood circulation, and reduce stress.
20. Indulge in music
Listening to music is a fun and enjoyable way to reconnect with the sensations in your body. Moving to the beat or singing along to your favorite song can help work any bad emotions through the body and out of it, so they don’t get stuck and drain your energy. Musical beats and emotions resonate with the brain, so choosing the music that reflects the energy you desire may help you take control of the way you feel, enhance your mood, and boost your confidence and motivation.
21. Commit to a creative hobby
Artistic mediums and creative expressions like painting, sculpture, playing musical instruments, and even cooking help you shift into what is commonly called “flow,” or a meditative state of mind. Such activities are proven to decrease stress and anxiety and help resolve internal conflicts and external problems. Giving yourself a mental workout, aka trying or learning something new, keeps your brain fresh and firing and boosts your zest for life and self-esteem.
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