Being able to extract the nourishing parts of our lives from our food, relationships, experiences, career, and eliminate the toxic aspects, is a far more complex process that it appears. I want to dive deeper into how we can achieve a balance!
As defined by the World Health Organization; Health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
When we have symptoms of illness this is typically the body’s alarm signal telling us, that a restored balance and elimination of what is causing the blockages of flow within us is required.
This is where our mind and body come in since they are inextricably intertwined. The cells in our body are constantly reacting and changing through our thoughts and actions. The connection is so powerful, every time we have a thought a cascade of chemical reactions in our brain and body lead to positive or negative outcomes. Our cells are constantly being evoked or suppressed as a result. Though this can in certain cases lead to illness, the mind body connection cannot be blamed as the source to all illness created within the body.
The human body is incredibly complex, and certain genetic predisposing factors as well as happenings on a physical level can be dictating of illness. We do through mind body healing have the ability however to in certain cases, delay, prevent or ease symptoms of illness.
Where to start?
Where to start can feel like an overwhelming question. There are so many obvious areas we all know we could do a better job working on, but how can we set ourselves up for success? Small changes gradually enable us to shift our body into a state of wellbeing and happiness; this makes it easier for us to (with time) implement, and be receptive to greater balance adjustments down the line. Its all about the small changes, the ones we don’t think make that much difference, and at the beginning they really don’t… but come a few weeks or months down the line, wow, what a difference they can make.
Here are my seven top tips that are a great starting point to help shift from an imbalance to balance in your Mind Body Balance:
Laughter is scientifically proven to trigger both healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Stress hormones decrease, and your immunity response increases, all through the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals). Endorphins are known for being able to temporarily relive pain, decrease stress, anxiety, depression and release anger. Laughter also helps you burn calories and relax your muscles! Pretty awesome! Whether it’s sharing an embarrassing moment with a friend, watching some stand up comedy, or reminiscing with family/ friends, try integrating a good bit of laughter into your day.
Feeling lonely? Like you’re not enough? Feel isolated sometimes? Take a look around you. Who are you surrounding yourself with? Research supports findings that cultivating loving and positive relationships with those around can have a direct effect on your physical and mental health! Yes that’s right, even the people you’re surrounded by in your day or night job, university or commute have an effect on you! Creating a support network not only creates bonds with friends who you can confide in, it also creates distraction to take your mind off your worries.
If you feel your current friendship circle is not creating the support network you need, or if your network of friends is small, try meeting new people through activities. For example, volunteer work, joining a sports or hobby team, online groups such as Meet-Up also provide a great platform to meet like-minded others who have the same hobbies/ passions as you!
Catching your Zzzzzzz is so incredibly vital for your energy levels and body’s ability to rest, recover and digest. Sometimes people tend to boast about how little sleep they can get by on, in reality though the effects of their neglected sleep only catches up with them. Inadequate sleep overtime weakens your body’s immune defense, leads to weight gain, depression and increases your aging process. This is definitely not cool or smart. Sleep-needs and patterns are different for everyone, the optimal sleep average tends to lie between 7 to 9 hours every night. Truly restful sleep is purely dosing off without the influence of pharmaceuticals or alcohol. Some people find reading a book or some light background music helps them drift off. Technology in any form suppresses your melatonin production and keeps your brain alert so a tech-free-zone will help you ease into your restful sleep.
To work out what your individual need is ask yourself; When do I feel most awake? When does tiredness set in? Every time you drift off where you think it is routine such as after lunch break, on the way to work, during a lecture, on the way home after a long day…these are not the norm, it’s your body trying to tell you that you are not getting enough sleep. Try keeping a ‘sleep diary’ recording the time you sleep and the time you wake up during a vacation for example, when you have more flexibility. Chances are that the first few days you will sleep in longer than normal catching up on all those lost Zzzzzzs. After that you should be able to see a pattern in the sleep-time you truly need for your body to be mighty and full of energy!
The same we get ‘Hangry’ we also get ‘Thangry’, symptoms include, hunger, tiredness, headaches, and inflammation. Water helps flush out toxins by transporting acidic waste away from cells, when we are dehydrated though these toxins can’t get carried away… and linger… pretty gross and, also compromising to the bodies homeostasis (balance). Make a conscious effort to carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go. The same way you brush your teeth every day, make drinking water a HABIT. The minimum consumption is around 2 Liters a day, of course everyone is different but aiming to get at least 2 Liters in a day is a good starting point. Oh, and our bodies are 70% water! It’s a pretty important fundamental to our existence, don’t deprive yourself.
We all already know the many, many benefits of exercising. But sometimes we all need a little reminder of just HOW GOOD exercise can improve our life! From improving our sex life, energy levels, and lifting our mood, exercise really does a full circle.
Exercise also plays a large factor in controlling our weight, preventing diseases and chronic health conditions from manifesting. No matter what your weight is, exercise does the genius work of boosting good fats also known as HDL (high density lipoproteins) and decreases the nasties also know as LDL (low density lipoproteins).
Regarding sex life, the endurance as well as improved circulation from exercising is said to enhance arousal, libido, confidence, and decrease problems like erectile dysfunction. It also increases levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is an awesome protein that helps your brain nourish your existing neurons, and also create new ones! Have you ever had that feeling after a work out where your mind is just so clear and sharp? Well that’s BDNF doing its work!
Exercise does not have to be mundane, a dull routine or a massive effort. Make it fun and social, try something new! So many gyms, yoga studios, boot camps offer trial periods, either at no cost or a reduced cost, so you can also test them out and see what fits! If your motivation is lacking grab a friend and motivate each other, hold each other accountable!
6). Quiet the mind
I’m going to get a bit more personal here. This is something I have really, really struggled with. I am one of those people who; project-bounces, can easily get bored/ distracted, and think fast-paced. I use to be prone to anxiety episodes which were exhausting to say the least. I know not everyone experiences this, but for those of you who can relate, quieting the mind is EVEN MORE important for us.
I started 4 years ago to take small steps in learning how to slow my mind. Since I have learnt tools to quiet my mind, gosh, the world is a MUCH less stressful place. Gradually my worries decreased by three-fold leading to me developing a concentration ability I never thought I would acquire in this lifetime, and even my health improved. Being human, I do occasionally fall off the band-wagon, BUT I know what I need to do to get back on, and that’s a game changer.
As a starter, I would suggest simple activities; reading, sports, cooking. These simple activities are things all of us have access to and are good tools to begin the process of calming the mind since they take you out of your daily routine. If you already do all these, or any of these as a profession, try Youtubing a guided meditation, my favorite are the ones by Deepak Chopra. However, if you prefer to just meditate /sit still without words try searching ‘calming music’, or ‘meditation music’.
7). Healthy diet
I listed healthy diet as the final tip because of a tremendous theory called primary and secondary food, which I learnt about during my Health Coaching training at the Integrative Institute for Nutrition. Primary food encompasses; relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity. Secondary food includes; what you eat, so ideally a ‘Healthy Diet.’ Simplified the theory is that before you can start managing your diet and what you eat, you need to get your primary foods in balance first.
Once you’ve worked on the other 6 tips I finally conclude with point 7, ‘Healthy Diet’. Let’s say you own a car, a petrol engine car, would you fill it with diesel? No, you wouldn’t, it would break-down wouldn’t it? The same way, if you put the wrong food in your body (your own personal engine) what do you think will happen over time?
Its therefore so vital to take charge of your engine and make sure you’re running it to its optimum power and ability, rather that it running your day to day. No matter how small or grandiose your long-term plans for the future don’t neglect your engine.