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Our brains and our bodies are intrinsically connected. As someone who has lived with chronic illness, I understand this connection very well. When the body hurts and cannot handle normal daily functions, the mental state can diminish. Ironically, as well, the body cannot heal when the mind is not functioning properly. Body-mind connection is imperative to life as well as healing.
Unfortunately, mental health is one of those topics that gets avoided much of the time. We squirm in our seats if someone speaks frankly, and many of us wouldn’t dream of opening up about how we feel either. But we have to practice self-care not just for our body, but for our minds as well. If we abandon our mental health, we have walked away from a vital part of our health. Think of your mental health as a muscle group all of its own. It needs exercise, nourishment, and it needs a good bit of TLC when it’s stressed. I believe you will find a greater balance if you take the following 6 steps to better mind-body health.
Mind-Body Health Step #1: Get Moving
To most people, working out is just a benefit to the body. The truth is, all those endorphins that come from exercise are incredible for your mental health. We sleep better, our moods balance, and we are able to process information and emotions with a greater degree of clarity. Unfortunately, as great as it would be, shopping til you drop does not classify as a proper work out. I believe a little more focus is required to get a maximum mind-body benefit. You don’t have to exercise aggressively to get the job done, but intention and having a plan will pay off. Exercise is recommended as a part of the treatment for so many mental health conditions. Remember, you need your mind to be whole, alert, and balanced to achieve overall health.
Mind-Body Health Step #2: Talk About Your Feelings
Talking to someone about how you’re feeling is an excellent way to keep yourself in check with your emotions and mental health. While it can be useful to talk to someone for advice in general, it’s even more helpful to verbalize your worries. Your thoughts and feelings may suddenly be clearer or worry lessened by your own logic. If you struggle with finding words, try to describe how you feel physically to start with, and the rest should flow naturally. These conversations can occur organically with loved ones, or you could seek out a counselor or therapist for harder issues.
Mind-Body Health Step #3: Ask For Help
Sometimes life becomes overwhelming, especially if you live with an illness. It’s important to ask for help when you need it. Family and friends are usually more than willing to assist, but, sometimes, you need professional advice. Mental health problems don’t always manifest with recognizable symptoms. It’s important to pay attention to any changes in your mood, sleep patterns, and overall behavior. If you notice significant changes, it might be time to, at least, call your physician. He or she will be able to advise on a course of action, whether it’s antidepressants, referral to a psychotherapist, or another type of therapy.
A psychotherapist can then spend some time with you to determine the source of your problem, whether it’s depression, bipolar, bipolar II, or any other mental health conditions. They will then be able to work with you to devise a treatment plan to get you back on track. But all of this can only be done if you reach out for help in the first place.
Mind-Body Health Step #4: Bust That Stress
Stress is not good for your body or your brain. Furthermore, mental stress can actually cause physical problems. For example, stress encourages your body to release a hormone called cortisol, which encourages your body to store fat. This can also affect your blood sugar levels, making it tricky to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Learning to keep your stress to a minimum and avoid triggers is a foundational principle for mind-body health. Taking up gentle practices like meditation or yoga allows your body to release much of the stress it builds up. It can also clear your mind and help you grow mentally stronger.
Mind-Body Health Step #5: Keep Unhealthy Choices To a Minimum
Smoking, drinking, and recklessness can be a lot of fun, and even energy-giving at times. That said, over-indulgence can, and will, backfire in our physical and mental health. Realizing that you may have made poor decisions while under the influence can exacerbate any existing mental health problems as well as physical illness. Know your limitations and stick to them. If drugs, alcohol, or other addictions are affecting your state of mind and physical well-being, it’s time to ask for help.
Mind-Body Health Step #6: Take a Break
Studies show that relaxing in social situations can be more effective than morphine for pain relief, and it releases all sorts of feel-good hormones into your body. So when life gets overwhelming, kick back and relax with some friends. Take a vacation once in a while to rekindle your sense of adventure. Taking a break from your everyday routine and surroundings creates new neuropathways and strengthens mental agility.
Keeping our brain healthy is crucial for ensuring our body is in tip top form, and it’s just as important the other way around. Most importantly, always be aware of your mental health and seek help whenever you’re worried.
**** This post is strictly informational and is not meant to replace the advice of your health care provider. Women’s lifelink, it’s owners, administrators, contributors, affiliates, vendors, authors and editors do not claim that this information will diagnose, treat, or improve any condition or disease.