Finding ways to take care of your physical health can be quite simple. There’s plenty to choose from based on your preferences whether that’s cycling, running, yoga, fitness classes or whatever else floats your boat. But when was the last time you paid the same level of attention to your mind-body wellness?
Physical exercises often have a positive effect on the mind too as they help to release feel-good hormones, but what else can you do to take care of your emotional health? Science proven benefits such as lower stress levels, reduced pain and inflammation and better sleep should help encourage us to consider incorporating some aspect of mind-body wellness practices into our life in addition to physical exercises.
We outline a few of our favourite mind-body practices below.
This is one of our favourites as it is so accessible and can help you feel calm and relaxed after a 20-30 minute session. As you develop a regular practice, you will begin to look forward to your sessions and will begin to develop emotional resilience so that you will be able to handle life challenges with greater awareness, compassion and ease.
There are so many different “ways’ to meditate. If you are new to meditation, it may be beneficial to try a few methods to see which one you resonate with the most. The underlying purpose of meditation is to focus your attention on the here and now and train your mind to return to the present when your mind wanders.
Some of the most common meditation practices include focussing on your breath, paying attention to bodily sensations or repeating a specific mantra for a certain amount of time. There are also many tools you can use to help you learn the art of meditation such as apps, classes or practitioners who can offer private one-to-one sessions.
Another one of our favourites because stretching just feels so good is yoga! Yoga is also great for building strength and creating more flexibility in the body and in getting the blood pumping around body, win, win, win!
Yoga can be traced back to over 5000 years ago, however some researchers believe it is much longer than this. The practice originated in India and involves a series of poses, breathing techniques and mental practices. The purpose is to create balance between the body, mind and spirit.
It can be very easy to start a practice by following along to some YouTube videos for beginners or using a yoga app so you can practice from the comfort of your own home. If you feel you need more direction and support, you will very likely find a class local to you or you can enlist the experience of a teacher on a one-to-one session basis.
There are many different types of yoga to explore including Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin that will challenge you in unique ways. Whichever one you choose, remember to focus on the breath when you move into and out of the poses and also when you are in the poses to unlock the physical and mental benefits of yoga.
Ok, we know we’ve said this about every practice, but this is also one of our favourites! The Holistic Room team regularly incorporate these three practices in our daily lives to help keep us feeling calm and balanced, so we feel very passionate about them all.
Breath work is great because you can practice it anytime and anywhere. Stressful meeting coming up? Take 5 minutes to practice some breath work prior to the meeting so you enter it with calm and clarity. Can’t sleep? Practice 10 minutes of breath work in bed to help slow down your body and mind and help induce sleep naturally.
No equipment is needed, and it can have a quick response on the stress response helping you to feel more relaxed after just a few minutes of practice. We’ve outlined some simple practices in this blog post, so you can try the techniques out for yourself.
If you feel that you just don’t have the time to fit anything else into your routine, start small and build on it if possible. It would be counter-productive to feel stress around this and if you practice while feeling rushed or annoyed, you may not actually be taking care of your mental health at all!
The breathing practices can be practiced for 5 minutes, three times a day. Most of us can squeeze 15 minutes out of our day to focus on wellness and bring our awareness into the present moment. Even small changes can have big results on how we feel.
Long Term Benefits
Mind body techniques will produce positive results in the short term, but long-term practice has been shown to greatly benefit our mental health and well-being.
One study by a Harvard affiliated team showed that 8 weeks of meditation demonstrated changes in brain structure which may back up the improvements felt after meditating and may prove that it’s not just a matter of spending time relaxing.
Another study on the benefits of a 3-month yoga program in women showed significantly lower levels of cortisol. They also had lower levels of anxiety, fatigue and depression.
So as much as you work on keeping your body physically fit, be sure to also prioritise the health and well-being of your mind and your emotions. You might totally change the way you move through the world and how you feel on a day-to-day basis. What will you try? Let us know in the comments.
Take our short quiz and find out what therapies may be beneficial for you. This is by no means a replacement for professional support but can help to shed a little light on possible directions to take.