How to balance the mind-body connection
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
Good health begins as a thought!
Achieving long-term health and energy is a balancing act. Quite simply, what you put into your mind may have as much of an impact as the food and supplements you feed your body.
Many studies have been conducted on the mind-body connection. What we know for sure is that a positive attitude works – when we remember to nurture it.
Wholesome food, avoiding sugar and toxins are obvious tools for great health but how should you deal with the consequences of negative thinking and stress?
Experts rate exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling negative thoughts and building a strong social support as some of the best ways to decrease stress and boost immunity – so paying attention to your feelings and needs is as vital as drinking enough water and avoiding junk food.
Winning ways to promote good mind-body health
Exercise promotes good lymphatic health helping to eliminate waste and toxins from the body.
The release of endorphins during exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing, which has the added benefit of boosting your immune system.
Walking, running or any other muscle-moving activity also dramatically reduces stress by ‘working off steam’ when you are upset or angry.
During exercise, the lymphatic system – a network of tissues and organs that helps your body to eliminate toxins and waste – is mobilised. Its main role is to transport lymph fluid, which contains infection-fighting white blood cells. Unlike the blood, which is transported by the heart, lymph fluid only moves if you do.
A recent study from a North Carolina university showed that people who exercised for five or more days weekly experienced 43% fewer days of upper respiratory infections.
Walking, running or any other muscle-moving activity also dramatically reduces stress by ‘working off steam’ when you are upset or angry. With the release of endorphins, your body receives a natural mood boost, resulting in reduced stress levels, which in turn puts less pressure on your immune system.
2. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
According to a study by Prof Jim Horne, 82.5 per cent of Irish workers claimed workplace stress the cause of disrupted sleep. To aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, avoid caffeine, digital screens and try to turn in at the same time each evening.
3. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE
Make an effort to do something nice for yourself every day. Neglecting your own needs adds unnecessary stress to the system, resulting in increased vulnerability to illness.
Women, in particular, tend to put their own needs last, especially if they’re caring for children and/or elderly parents. If you battle with guilt when you take an hour off to read, go for a manicure or have a coffee with a friend, remind yourself that if your bucket is empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else. Simple, but effective.
You cut in half the chances of catching a cold by meditating. A University of Wisconsin study showed that people who practised mindfulness – a type of meditation or mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations –noted 13 fewer illnesses and took 51 fewer sick days. Researchers concluded that this reduced the physical effects of stress, which is known to weaken the immune system.
5. IT TAKES A VILLAGE...
Building strong social connections has proven psychological and physiological benefits. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, having a ‘support group’ – no matter how big or small – boosts immunity by creating ‘stress buffers’.
Being able to share stress or concerns with close family or friends provides an opportunity for outside support and advice, which alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation.
Ongoing stress is also a contributing factor to many chronic diseases, and is seriously not helpful if you are trying to lose weight.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield, American author and Buddhist mindfulness pioneer.
Feeling off balance?
Achieving an optimal mind-body connection takes work. When we step outside ourselves and our busy minds and lives we begin to recognise what aspects of our health require more attention. Poor balance does not always show up in a neatly packaged symptom, sometimes it’s more fluid. At times we just don’t feel great but can’t quite put our finger on the problem and so don’t know where to begin in addressing it.
The topics I’ve covered in this blog however are always a good starting point. These are areas I address with clients when they come to me for help. Anyone can research “good foods” and “bad foods” and the internet is full of 7-day meal plans for optimal health. But without taking a holistic approach to nutrition and health you’ll find yourself back at square one before too long.
I always encourage clients to be mindful and tune in to their body and thoughts and become aware of how food makes them feel and how stress is impacting their daily lives. It's only then that they can begin to identify the triggers that leave them feeling out of sorts. It’s through this connection and mindfulness that they are able to identify the steps they need to take and start to implement changes that will help them feel like themselves again.
Get in touch
Why not avail of a free no-obligation 30 minute mini consultation with me? You can share your health concerns and struggles, I will give you some tips to implement straightaway and I will outline my super successful approach which blends nutritional therapy and health coaching along with years of clinical experience and a fully personalised food and lifestyle plan.
You can contact me by email.