Nurture the Mind-Body Connection

by Valerie Demetros

Your body is a sophisticated machine with a powerful network that connects your brain to your gut, and more.

The mind-body connection asserts that your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively affect you biologically. Put simply, your physical body and mental activity are intimately tied together.

Problems start when faced with chronic stress, causing your body to activate its “fight, flight, freeze” response. This can happen because of chronically stressful situations or seeing multiple situations as stressful. This repeated activation of your emergency response system can have a big impact on your body.

If you want to continue to be healthy, and cultivate a healthy mind-body connection, there are a few things you can do.

The first is a no-brainer because it affects so many aspects of your physical health — get some sleep. Six to eight hours should do it, but make it a healthy sleep. Fall asleep after getting exercise and reading, not after a few cocktails.

Another positive connection starts with exercise. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly report less stress and a more conscious understanding of their feelings. This directly leads to a healthier body and less stress.

This doesn’t mean you have to start lifting weights every day at the gym (unless you want to). Just walking more and stretching each day can make a world of difference.

And if you are walking, get off the treadmill and get outside. Not only do you soak up some much-needed vitamin D, but the outdoors and fresh air can connect you back to reality.

Take the dog for a walk or meet up with a friend. You’re doing your heart good as well as your mental health. And remember to stay hydrated to avoid feeling stressed and cranky.

If you’re feeling frazzled and haven’t been well, consider giving your body a bit of pampering.

Make an appointment for a massage, which reduces stress and improves blood circulation. You can also try a bit of acupuncture, acupressure or just find a hot tub and relax. Pampering can even include a pedicure or a facial. Just do something nice for yourself and connect to feeling good. This can lead to better health by lowering your stress level.

Finally, spend some time with people who make you happy. Let them boost your mood just by being around. Laughing can stimulate your lungs and heart, as well as your mental health.

The mind-body connection can feel somewhat abstract to some, but there are many ways to strengthen that connection.

Anyone who has added stress can attest to the toll it takes on your physical health. Take care of both.