Good health begins as a thought
Achieving long-term health and energy is a balancing act. Quite simply, what you put into your mind may have as much of an impact as the food and supplements you feed your body. Many studies have been conducted on the mind-body connection. What we know for sure is that a positive attitude works – when we remember to nurture it. Eating whole foods, removing sugar and avoiding toxins are obvious tools for great health but how should you deal with the consequences of negative thinking and stress? Experts rate exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling negative thoughts and building a strong social support network as some of the best ways to decrease stress and boost immunity – so paying attention to your feelings and needs is as vital as drinking enough water and avoiding junk food.
Winning ways to promote good mind-body health...
1. EXERCISE The release of endorphins during exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing, which has the added benefit of boosting your immune system. During exercise, the lymphatic system – a network of tissues and organs that helps your body to eliminate toxins and waste – is mobilised. Its main role is to transport lymph fluid, which contains infection-fighting white blood cells. Unlike the blood, which is transported by the heart, lymph fluid only moves if you do. Physical exercise, whether walking, running or any other muscle-moving activity, dramatically reduces stress and has been shown to be very beneficial for depression and anxiety. It's not only your endorphins that give your body a natural mood boost but also a brain chemical called GABA, which promotes a calming effect on the body when released. 2. GET ENOUGH SLEEP Almost half (47%) of Britons say that stress or worry keeps them awake at night . Sleep is the time for rest and recovery. You simply can’t beat stress if you’re sleep deprived. Poor sleep weakens our immune system and disrupts our mood. Try to establish a regular sleeping pattern by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day, create a relaxing environment in your bedroom, put away the technology and minimise your exposure to blue light in the evening, choose non-caffeinated drinks near bedtime - try a cup of chamomile tea instead. 3. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE Try to do something enjoyable for yourself every day and replenish your resources. Neglecting your own needs adds unnecessary stress to your body, resulting in increased vulnerability to illness. We often put our own needs last – focusing our energies on friends, family, work and so on. If you battle with guilt when you take an hour off to read, go for a manicure or have a coffee with a friend, remind yourself that if your bucket is empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else. Simple, but effective.
Here’s your challenge: make a list of at least 20 things (even really frivolous things) that you love to do just because they make you happy. 4. MINDFULNESS Research shows mindfulness not only reduces stress but also gently builds an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness and physical well-being. Try creating a space for yourself to sit and observe your breath for 10 minutes - peacefully paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment. The great thing about mindfulness is that you can take it anywhere – you can practice whilst walking to work, eating your lunch or when taking a shower. There are some great apps like ‘Smiling Mind’, ‘Headspace’ or ‘Insight Timer’ which can help you on your journey. 5. IT TAKES A VILLAGE… Building strong social connections has proven psychological and physiological benefits. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, having a ‘support group’ – no matter how big or small – boosts immunity by creating ‘stress buffers’. Being able to share stress or concerns with close family or friends provides an opportunity for outside support and advice, which alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation. “When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield