Right up to the 17th century, the world viewed mind and body as one working being.
But over time, this changed in the West, dividing the two as separate entities. Our views adapted, leaving behind traditional, mindful-based methods, commonly utilized among society to heal those experiencing trying times of physical illness.
While this material change in mindset is responsible for providing us with the advanced medicine we can access in our world today, we have collectively forgotten how to recognize, celebrate, and embrace the connection between our body and mind.
Retraining ourselves to acknowledge that our brains profoundly affect our physical well-being helps us avoid pushing ourselves to severe emotional distress through chaotic periods. Actually, stress significantly impacts our defense system, as we experience a reduction in our lymphocytes. These are the white blood cells that prevent infection. Without these, we leave a large gap for germs to come in and infect us from outside.
It is vital to remember that our brain is just a storage device. We are not the first thought that comes to our mind, and while we may not be able to change the hardware itself, we can control what we keep in memory on the device with a bit of upkeep maintenance, thus looking after our bodies in the process.
Accept The Love You Know You Deserve
By nature, we are social beings regardless of our ingrained personality types. The role relationships play in our lives, platonic or romantic, has a profound effect on our mental states and general well-being.
Experiencing social isolation or simply not having an open and empathetic support system around us can increase cortisol levels. This is a general stress hormone that lowers our immune system, and this influx of harmful hormones may cause adverse effects within the physical body, such as increased chances of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, and in some extreme cases, cancer.
Take some time to sit down and reflect upon the friends, partners, or even co-workers you have around you. Ask yourself: “Do I have meaningful, kind connections in my life that make me feel supported?”. It is essential to take time out of our lives to think of what kind of relationships you want to have around you. Remember to be honest and kind with yourself through this process.
After reflecting, maybe you realize you want to sink your energy into transforming your current relationships, or in some cases, you may start to know it’s time to focus on creating newer, healthier ones. Even better, you may even realize that you feel happy with your support system, and this sense of gratitude will give you a positive hormone boost within itself.
Your Breath Is a Shortcut to Healing Your Mind
Over centuries, it has become common knowledge that we can reconnect with our minds through our bodies by learning how to master and control our breathing. Meditation and general mindfulness have been in practice since 5,000 BC and there’s a reason it’s stuck around with us until today, it genuinely works wonders for our mental and physical well-being. There are many alternative ways to integrate mindfulness into your daily routine, with the most popular being meditation.
What is most important to remember throughout any approach to mindfulness is that you prioritize kindness and care to yourself and your thoughts, approaching the practice without any self-judgment.
Basic mindfulness meditation may be to simply sit in a quiet, calm state, focusing on breathing.
Starting with a breathing technique such as the 2-4-8 technique, breathing out for four seconds, holding for two, and exhaling for eight can reduce your heart rate and stop your body from sending panic signals. After this, you can sit with yourself quietly and focus on your natural breath.
Be kind to yourself and allow thoughts to flow in and out of your mind without judgment. Acknowledge them, pass them on and come back to your breath. When you focus on your breathing, you reduce your respiratory rate, and in turn, your heart rate will drop dramatically, lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone we talked about earlier). This will leave you in a clearer state of mind, which, as we know, will affect your body in wonderful ways.
Acknowledge and Work Through What’s Bothering You
A recent study that focused on examining college students dealing with poor mental health and high-stress levels found that those acknowledging and actively working through the obstacles within their minds had improved immune function over those who did not. Although the evidence is still in its early stages, early research has shown that the process of working through our trauma or difficulties has a tremendous positive impact on our physical health.
By acknowledging our feelings and emotions, recognizing our thoughts through mindful exercises, and taking time, to be honest with ourselves without judgment, we can help ourselves and our bodies through some of the most challenging periods of our lives physically and mentally.
Let’s start viewing the mind and body as one like we did for many centuries before.
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