You might not realize this yet, but there’s something called the mind and body connection or mind-body connection. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have. Every thought, feeling, and belief can actively affect your physical health and body. That is why when your heart breaks or when you’re depressed, you physically feel it. The emotional pain affects the rest of your body as if you’re physically ill. Your mind and body interconnect with one another, and what your mind feels, your body feels as well. In this article, we’ll be talking about everything you needed to know about the mind-body connection, such as why it’s important and how to improve your mind and body connection.
What Is The Mind-Body Connection?
The mind-body connection is the intertwining of both your body and mind. When your mind thinks something, your body may experience a physical response. For example, you might catch yourself crying after thinking a sad thought. Or you might have a physical gut feeling to subconscious thought.
The mind and body intertwine due to our evolutionary past. So while you might dislike the physical response from overthinking, it’s the reason you’re alive today. The mind and body connection is why you and your ancestors survived up to this point in life. So, instead of fighting it, let’s look at why it’s important and improve the relationship between the mind and body.
Why A Mind and Body Connection Is Important
1. Mind and Body Connection Encourages Attentiveness
It encourages you to pay attention to your emotions and thoughts. The mind-body connection is all about how the mind and body connect. You can use this connection to your advantage to pay better attention to what you’re thinking and feeling. Your physical body can notice when you aren’t doing well emotionally. The mind-body connection allows you to pay better attention inwardly, and it can help you gain a better understanding of your thoughts and emotions before or during they happen. You can be aware of your thoughts and emotions before feeling overwhelmed by them through signs that your body or physical health provides.
By taking some time to be mindful of your thoughts, you can prevent a physical response. You’ll become more aware of when and why negative thoughts begin to surface and prevent their escalation by giving yourself a chance to stop the rumination of thoughts. When you stop ruminating, you’ll notice you also stop catastrophizing challenges or roadblocks. And so, you end up dealing with your emotions better which allows fewer physical responses.
2. Begin a Healthy Expression of Emotions
Since your body does a remarkable job of letting you know how you feel mentally, a mind and body connection encourages you to release your emotions in the healthiest way possible. When you’re aware of the mind-body connection, you can find activities that affect both your mind and body in the process, such as relaxation techniques or exercise. You’ll feel the impact of your feelings and thoughts through what your body feels, and you can choose ways to calm your mind and body alternatively, especially if you’re prone to anxiety, depression, and stress.
There are many creative ways to connect your mind and body in a healthy way, such as painting, dance, gardening, swimming, tai chi, and even sleep. Whether you’re expressing yourself through a stunning garden or a lovely dream, you’ll be able to deal with life’s challenges well by trying some mind and body exercises.
3. It Improves Your Well-being
When you’re able to deal with difficult emotions well because of the mind-body connection, your overall well-being improves drastically. Since you can pay better attention to your needs, you reduce the chances of acquiring unhealthy habits such as drinking, especially when you’re not feeling well. Instead, consider developing some good habits. The mind-body connection can help you maintain an overall healthy and balanced lifestyle by learning how to deal with your emotional and mental stability and incorporate healthier habits that affect your mind and body. By learning neuroplasticity or even learning how to control your mind, you’ll notice your physical state will be much better. You might observe you’re less likely to be ill or experience better sleep due to taking care of yourself.
5 Ways to Improve the Mind-Body Connection
There’s a reason why meditation practice is one of the most commonly known mind and body exercises today. Meditation isn’t just a simple breathing exercise; it’s much more than that. Meditation can be highly effective in helping your mind and body together. Meditation goes beyond deep breathing; it’s a way to work on your self-awareness of your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. It can help you accept your thoughts without judgment or criticism and eventually let go of them when you’re ready. With your mind-body connection, meditation helps to reduce the fight or flight response during periods of high stress. It can not only help you deal with difficult emotions and thoughts, but it helps you have the mental strength and awareness to determine if something is wrong and when it’s time to panic.
You can download Declutter The Mind’s meditation app to follow along to guided meditations for body scans, anxiety, loving-kindness, and so much more. A guided meditation will help you focus on your breathing while noticing something new with each practice. You’ll find meditations for as short as five minutes or as long as an hour within the app. You can download the app on either iOS or Android devices.
2. Yoga and Stretching
There’s a direct correlation between physical activity and mental health, and the mind-body connection is the core reason behind that. When you stretch your body and do yoga, this can remove cortisol from your body, which is the stress hormone. Those who regularly practice yoga are more likely to see cortisol levels drop. The less stressed and anxious you are, the better your mental and emotional health will be.
In return, you’re able to be resilient in dealing with difficult situations and emotions, and even before you feel something negative, you have the awareness to know something isn’t right. Whether it’s yoga or stretching, both are effective ways to reconnect with both your mind and body. When we’re stressed, we often feel the tension in our muscles and joints. By stretching, you can ease any frustrations and stress you’re dealing with in your life. Plus, by focusing on the stretching instead of the wandering thoughts of the mind, you’re able to live more mindfully during the exercise.
3. Hydrate and Don’t Skip Meals
Suppose you’ve been paying attention to your mind-body connection. In that case, you feel more prone to negative emotions like anxiety and stress when you’re not taking proper care of your body, such as being sleep-deprived or dehydrated. You can improve your mind-body connection by rejuvenating your body with everything it needs to feel healthy and strong, and this is how you maintain your mental health in the process.
You can’t expect to deal with your emotions efficiently or maintain a positive mood when you refuse to take care of yourself properly. When you take good care of your mind, you also take good care of your body since this is the entire premise of the mind-body connection. You need to remember to feed yourself well and always drink water to improve the connection between your body and your mind so that in circumstances that you need to use that connection the most, you have the awareness to do so. Eating based on nutrition through mindful eating can help fuel your body enough to ease the mind.
4. Engage With Your Five Senses
Your five senses connect to your mental functions, so you improve your mind-body connection by engaging with them. When you smell something good, your five senses are why endorphins and dopamine enter your brain, which are both hormones responsible for feeling good about yourself. Don’t hesitate to engage with your senses to feel connected with your body because each one of your senses is just as important when it comes to your mind-body connection. It’s the primary reason why aromatherapy and eating chocolate makes you feel good and happy about yourself – because of that connection with your brain
Take a short moment to notice your senses and meditate on them. What do you see? What do you smell? Is there a taste in your mouth? Do you hear any sounds? Touch something; how does it feel?
5. Exercise and Move Your Body
When you exercise and move your body, you reap the same benefits of a mind-body connection, like yoga. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you’re doing, as the only thing that matters is that you’re moving just enough to provide both mental and physical benefits to your body. Exercise can benefit your mental health because when you sweat, you’re also helping your mind feel more energized and alert. Exercise is the one activity that benefits both your mental health and physical body in the process because of how interconnected they are with one another.
For instance, take a runner. Most people run outdoors in the fresh air, maybe in the woods or by a lake. Being outdoors in nature, using your body for movement, and clearing your mind by observing your surroundings, you master the mind and body.
How The Mind And Body Connect
1. Emotional Cortex
Your emotional cortex is the one area responsible for dealing with emotions, and this is what’s activated when dealing with a particularly stressful situation. The pre-frontal cortex helps you decide and think about what to do. The hippocampus deals with memories and emotions. Finally, the amygdala is responsible for the fight-or-flight response that’s naturally wired in our brains. When you put these three brain parts together, you have a better understanding of how the mind works. During emotional states, different parts of the brain light up to respond to thoughts, emotions, and threats.
2. Flight, Fight, and Freeze Response
The fight, flight, and freeze response is the perfect representation of how both your brain and body are connected. This response helps you react appropriately to dangerous and challenging situations, such as running away or fighting back when you’re under attack. During certain traumatic events, some people may even freeze as a response. In this case, you might experience an out-of-body experience that prevents you from running away or attacking. It’s most common in cases of sexual assault
When your body discovers an external threat, even without evidence of being in danger, your brain turns on the fight-or-flight response and releases cortisol in your body, which is the hormone that deals with stress. This hormone sends a signal to your lungs and heart, making you breathe faster and encouraging your muscles to tighten. It gives you an adrenaline boost to help you escape or fight your way to safety. It’s also why your blood sugar can rise and can even lead to a full-blown panic attack when you’re under the impression there’s something to fear. This response is why when you may feel stressed. There’s a higher tendency to get sick and feel like something is wrong with your body. The sensation of the fight, flight, and freeze response affects you physically while your mind might be screaming out “danger.”
3. Emotions and Physical Symptoms
Every physical symptom you feel when you get injured physically is also something you’ll tend to feel mentally and emotionally. For instance, when you hurt your knee, you also feel this pain emotionally through sadness or anger. On the other side of the spectrum, mental health challenges are something you also feel physically, which is why a panic attack is something you feel in your chest, stomach, or even all over your body. Even if anxiety comes from the mind, it affects the rest of your body
The mind and body interconnect through all the highs and lows and stresses of life. Without it, there’s no way to react to your emotions and thoughts adequately, and you wouldn’t be able to distinguish when it’s time to panic and when it’s time to relax. The mind-body connection is the entire reason why when you take proper good care of your mental health and brain health; you do the same for your body and physical health. Using the tips above, aim to unite the mind and body in a healthy way to train your body to manage challenging emotions better.