By: Caitlin Stackpool, Director of Community Integrated Health at the YMCA of Metro Denver
It’s been proven that people who have a strong mind-body connection have better overall health. But just what is the mind-body connection and how can you strengthen yours?
The mind-body connection means that our attitudes, beliefs, and emotions can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning. As the expression goes, “healthy mind, healthy body.” Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our worlds have been turned upside down; daily habits, routines, travel, and interaction with others are all off balance. But we can still strive for that healthy mind-body connection using the simple steps below.
Before you get started, remember, don’t be hard on yourself. As with everything, practice makes permanent; grant yourself grace as you find what works for you and what doesn’t.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Whether you realize it or not, your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act. Poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system. For example, after a stressful event, such as a job loss, you may suffer from lack of sleep, headaches or even high blood pressure — it’s your body’s way of reacting to your brain.
Be sure to spend some time each day focused on the things that you are grateful for in your life. Relaxing methods include meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, listening to music, among many other practices to bring your emotions to balance. A variety of calming and empowering mind-body exercises have been provided to help people decrease anxiety and pain, and also enhance sleep.
Les Mills is a resource providing free, online mindfulness videos during the COVID-19 pandemic; you can access them on the YMCA of Metro Denver’s website.
2. Feed your body healthy, nutritious foods
Are you familiar with the notion, “you are what you eat?” Food is fuel for your body — feed it a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates and lean proteins to sustain not only your physical health but also your mental health.
Allow yourself sweets and other treats you enjoy in moderation and don’t beat yourself up for their enjoyment.
Looking for ideas and inspiration? Check out a few of the YMCA of Metro Denver’s free, healthy nutrition and cooking classes on our website.
3. Exercise Daily
Regardless of age, body type or ability, every *body* benefits from daily physical exercise. Depending on your fitness goals, just 20 minutes of daily physical movement can help improve your health and wellness and help you lead your fullest life possible.
If your fitness center is still closed due to COVID-19 precautions or if you’re interested in working out from home, you can access free, on-demand workouts on the Y’s website from the comfort of your own home.
Find a source of inspiration that is bigger than you. Whether it’s church, your spiritual practice, volunteerism or connecting with family and friends, devote time things that matter to you and make you feel centered and connected.
5. Take care of yourself
At the end of the day, establishing strong emotional and physical health is like a recipe — add the key ingredients, along with a dash of creativity and, like with all good recipes, improvise what works for you and what doesn’t. The key is to feed your mind, body, and soul to nurture the best possible you.
At the YMCA of Metro Denver, we promote healthy living for the spirit, mind, and body. Learn more about how our programs can help you.