A concept still seen by many as “woo-woo”, the scientific truth is that our mindset and brain balance/activity is (and always has been) the metaphorical “right hand” of our bodily health. The ‘physical’ and ‘psychological’ are synergistic siblings, working alongside and with each other to keep the balance, heal, regenerate and maintain the body and all its complexities. AHCS wholly subscribes to this notion. Our role in providing community care services (as well as supplemental staffing to residential facilities and hospitals) demands a strong focus on the mind-body connection and the power that both these delicate, yet resilient systems have to influence the other.
With that in mind, today we’re going to talk about how we can use our bodies to strengthen our minds, and vice versa.
Brain Health Depends on Physical Activity & Movement – Period
There is a reason physical activity is doctor-recommended across-the-board. Moving your body actively (pun intended) triggers an increase in endorphins and other vital chemicals/hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine – some of these neurotransmitters are the very ones impacted through the use of antidepressant medications. Considering this, it can be assumed that even mild physical activity could be one of the first-line treatments in combatting and managing mental illnesses like depression, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, addiction, and more. Those who are predisposed to some of these illnesses might even experience a preventative effect through body movement.
In addition to body movement, nature bathing is a popular practice today which has been proven to promote feelings of well-being and anxiety relief. As a potent mindfulness practice, combining nature bathing with body movement could in fact multiply their potential respective benefits. You don’t necessarily have to become an expert-level hiker or rock-climbing enthusiast to see results, either (don’t think you must now head to MEC for some new boots and commit to tackling the Grouse Grind every Sunday morning). Taking a brisk beach walk or a leisurely stroll through a flat, forest-lined trail can have just the same health benefits as a difficult-level hike.
Mindfulness practices influence your physical health, both directly and indirectly. These include regular meditation, journaling, learning something new (enroll in that pottery class you’ve been sleuthing online!), baking, or engaging in activities like arts and crafts (knitting and crocheting are more than just trendy – they’re extremely soothing and positively stimulate to your brain!). There are so many forms of mindfulness that can actually encourage your brain to create new pathways and help you to become more resilient to physical and mental stress. Our bodies are undoubtedly healthier by increased resilience and better equipped to fend off illness and disease more effectively. And, conversely, a robust, healthy body contributes to a happy, healthy brain.
We understand that when it comes to putting conscious effort into forming healthy habits associated with the mind-body connection, it’s easier said than done. But starting small and keeping your goals realistic (and in keeping with your ideal lifestyle) will make a healthy routine more easily adoptable and maintainable long-term.