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Wellness Tips

Four ways to improve mental and physical wellness

Mind/Body Connection Our minds and bodies are interconnected and independently, one plays a role in the other. Your mental and emotional state impacts your physical health, and your health impacts your mental and emotional outlook. When you support and nurture one, you are healing the other at the same time. Neglect one and the other is at risk. The first step to understanding the mind-body connection and its power is to become aware of your body. The feel of each of your muscles and how you can move is part of that knowledge, but being able to sense the messages that you are receiving from your gut and other organs is another.

Four ways to develop a harmonious relationship between mind and body:

1) Thought process The state of our emotional and mental health can hurt or help the body’s immune system. If you’re thinking negative, self-destructive thoughts, your body will follow suit. Emotional and mental imbalance can start as something like stress-induced headaches, tight shoulders, and a sore upper back, and lead to unhealthy weight gain or loss, insomnia, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, we can make a conscious effort to think more positively and to develop healthy coping mechanisms for life’s stress and trial

2) We are what we eat Every single morsel or liquid passing through our lips has some sort of effect on our brains. Our nutritional intake, every day, can have huge impacts –- both negative and positive — on how we feel, thanks mostly to the chemical serotonin. In a nutshell, when serotonin levels are high, we’re happier, and when they’re low, we become depressed. Eating too many carbs and sugar can decrease sensitivity to serotonin, which leads to bad moods, and eventually obesity. To balance serotonin levels, eating protein can be the solution. Instead of eating a sugary pick-me-up midday, go for a snack high in protein to keep the mood positive and energy up, avoiding a crash later.

3) Good night, good health Aside from food and exercise, sleep also plays an enormous role in maintaining healthy serotonin levels, and keeping our minds and bodies happy with each other. Serotonin’s primary action in the body is to sedate, therefore, it is closely tied to how energy is — or is not — expended (i.e. exercise and sleep). Without sleep, our brains can be negatively affected, by messing with our brain’s response to serotonin. In other words, it is important to keep up a consistent sleeping pattern, in order to keep the mind and body healthy.

4) Meditation According to the American Heart Association, medical evidence reveals a genuine reciprocal connection between the mind and body. Practices like meditation and other relaxation techniques have shown to alter not only mind-body, but also mind-heart connections. The AHA concluded meditation could help with anxiety and depression, which often coincide with serious illness. Meditating for about 15 minutes daily can also help anyone who wants to stay centered and calm throughout the day. Exercises like meditation can help shift mental perceptions and reactions to situations. By becoming aware of tension and anxiety, and connecting to the breath, the mind will relax and the body will too. Even taking a few moments out of a stressful day to breathe quietly can have similar effects.

Sources: Michigan Psychological Association; builtlean.com
Photo Credit: Ridofranz