By Barb Anderson, MS, RDN, Kristin M. Nieman, PhD, Anita T. Shaffer, RDN
Our mind impacts our body, and our body impacts our mind. This interplay between mind and body can contribute positively or negatively to your overall health and well-being. What do we know about this important connection and how can it enhance our well-being journey?
- Stress reduction, quality sleep, social support, physical activity, balanced nutrition, and self-care all positively impact our physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being.
- Yoga and/or meditation can positively impact brain health.
- Mind-body practices are recommended by health organizations to support well-being. For example, the American Heart Association recommends mind-body practices to help reduce heart disease risk
- An optimistic mind is associated with a healthy lifespan and longevity.
- Physical activity can benefit your well-being by improving your mood, health outcomes, and overall quality of life.
- Regular and consistent sleep and wake times promote better health.
- Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and help reduce blood pressure.
- Meditation, a skill associated with being in the “present moment,” helps reduce stress and can positively change the brain networks involved in cognitive and emotional control.
- Meditation practices can improve emotional and physical health including having positive impacts on immune factors.
How can you tap into a positive “connection”?
- Decide to pursue a practice or several mind-body practices. It is an individualized journey.
- Relaxation breathing, guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, qigong, meditation, gratitude, and positive optimism all have benefits. Find the one or ones that work for you.
WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE STEPS?
- Unplug – when was the last time you unplugged from autopilot and stayed in the moment? Give it a try! Multitasking drains us — we miss the “now”.
- Spend time in nature! Being outside can boost your mood.
- Leverage social support – ask for help and give help, both boost overall health.
- Create a time and place to practice mindfulness and self-care— you are worth it.
Health encompasses the whole person. Put healthy actions into play – the decision to act is yours!