Today I’d like to share with you about an interesting connection that all of us have but often forget about. Have you ever felt your mouth water at the sight of a delicious cake? How about the last time you had to speak in front of a crowd? Did you get butterflies? The way we feel emotionally and mentally can affect the way our body responds physically. This is known as the mind-body connection.
What counsellors say about the mind-body connection?
To be more specific, the mind-body connection is the link between our thoughts, attitudes and our physical health. The way we perceive the world and experience it has a strong influence on our overall health. Oftentimes, we aren’t aware that the anger, fear and even sadness that we carry can be the reason for our ill health. On the other hand, we may not even realise that a good laugh is what we need to brighten up our day. Understanding our emotions and body is therefore super important so we know how to use it to our advantage to take good care of ourselves!
What a counsellor says about feelings and our bodies
Whenever we are upset, scared or stressed, our bodies will secrete two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. These are our stress hormones and are known for causing our flight-or-fight instincts to kick in. These special hormones give us a big energy boost so our bodies can respond to danger in the best way.
However, many of us find ourselves feeling stressed or nervous even when there’s no real danger. Maybe we are thinking about work for the next day or are upset about something that has happened. This causes our body to think that we need to prepare for a big fight (even though there isn’t one) and our stress hormones get released too frequently. As a result, we start to feel sick as the body does not get sufficient rest.
Some effects include:
- Falling sick more often
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulties focusing
Our feelings really have a powerful effect on our bodies!
But wait, can our bodies affect how we feel too?
Absolutely! The mind-body connection works both ways. Taking good care of your body can improve your mood, memory and overall mental health. So, here are some things you can do to take better care of your physical (and mental) self.
1. Regulate your sleeping hours
Yes, we know it’s hard. Between working, going out with friends and taking care of family – it is as if we need 48 hours in a day to do everything and sometimes, we try to make that happen by sacrificing our precious Zs. But having better and more consistent sleep has not only been found to improve mood because it allows for the release of our “happy” hormones such as serotonin but also allows time for our body to repair and refresh itself for the next day. So dear readers, try not to neglect your sleep and catch up on those Zs!
2. You are what you eat
What we consume can have a big influence on how we feel because it affects the release of our mood controlling hormones. Consuming more proteins like fish, tofu or eggs has been associated with the release of dopamine and norepinephrine – chemicals that elevate our mood and concentration.
We should try to reduce our intake of carbs and sugars as such foods can lead to an energy crash which can result in irritability, tiredness and even obesity.
Taking the time to reflect, relax and release the day’s stress is optimal for calming ourselves down and preventing those stress hormones from flaring. Meditation or mindfulness which involves controlling one’s breathing and reflecting on life events has been found to have profound effects on one’s physical and mental health. A session as short as 15 minutes in the evening can help reduce levels of stress.
As we have seen, the mind-body connection is critical to our self-care. I hope this short post has brought this special connection to attention and helps you in your journey of self-improvement, understanding and self-love!
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