The month of January is an ideal month for new beginnings. This is also the month for us to pay closer attention to our overall health and wellness. Good health not only consists of our physical well-being, but also sound mental health as well. There is much to be said regarding the mind-body connection as some research has revealed that the mind and body have a significant impact on one another. In short, the mind impacts the body, the body impacts the mind. For example: Unresolved traumas that have been “pushed down” so to speak, or not acknowledged can sit in the body and manifest as stress, anxiety and other mental health issues, which in turn can lead to certain physical ailments. Things such as gastrointestinal issues, heart related issues, headaches etc. that cannot be explained through medical examination, may very well be brought on by neglecting our mental health. Here you will find a few ways to care for both your mind and your body simultaneously.
- Schedule your annual check-ups with your primary care provider: If you haven’t already scheduled your annual physical, it may be a good time to do so.
- Develop a simple work-out routine: For example: 10 minutes of stretching in the morning or while on your lunch break, can help the muscles to work effectively, as well improve joint range of motions, stress reduction etc. Walking 20-30 minutes at least 3-4 times per week benefits include: energy booster, mood enhancer, helpful in improving heart health. If you are more advanced with your physical regimen, keep it up, and be safe.
- If taking prescribed medications, take them as directed by provider. Whether you’re taking medications for depression, anxiety or issues related to physical health, be sure to follow the instructions on your bottle. If you find the medication is causing other concerns for you (health related), be sure to reach out to your provider to have them adjusted accordingly. If you cease to take them without direction, it may cause more harm than good. Also, be sure to take medications that have only been prescribed for you, and not share with others, because that particular dosage may not be suitable for the person you are sharing with.
- Develop a plan for you to follow a balanced diet: Most people want to eat healthier. Yet, many struggle with finding what works for them and staying on track. Identifying someone who can help you maintain accountability may be helpful, whether that is a friend, family member, a nutritionist or just someone you follow on social media, having accountability can be a key to healthy eating and improved health.
- Focus on What is in Front of You: We live in a busy world, bottom line! We often find ourselves getting distracted, and sometimes projects don’t get completed. Sometimes we have to develop conscious reminders to get back on track. Try not to punish yourself for this, but there is nothing wrong with a little re-direction. For example: You were working on an important project for work. You got a phone call, and then you got side-tracked. The project got abandoned. Later on in the evening you were reminded of the project, now it’s late and you’re tired. Set an alarm or timer for you to return to complete the project the next day or whenever is most convenient. If possible, silence all calls so you can allow yourself the space to complete the project uninterrupted. According to research, most of us are not as effective at multi-tasking as we may think. So, rather than thinking about the events of yesterday or the hopes for tomorrow, focus on being in that moment, even if the moment is “boring”. It’s good for growth! If you focus on anything outside of the moment, it may create unwanted stress and/or anxiety.
- Talk to Your Therapist: You don’t necessarily have to have a mental health diagnosis to seek therapy, right? Some people feel guilty for burdening their friends and family with their mental health concerns, or just their concerns in general. Although it is great to have a support system, it may be helpful to speak to a professional so you can help to release those negative emotions about burdening others with your issues.
- Remember, you don’t have to feel guilty if you find happiness: Often times, people report feelings of guilt when things are going well for them. Sometimes people feel they don’t deserve true happiness, so they will concoct some thoughts up in their mind that will lead them back to that place of fear. For example: You feel you have a great home, a great job and a great family. But somewhere along the way someone may have said to you or you’ve thought to yourself that you don’t deserve such a good life. Then you begin to have other negative thoughts, and those thoughts continue until they lead you to negative emotions like frustration and/or fear, then the onset of anxiousness I.e., physiological symptoms, heart palpitations, sweating headaches or thoughts like “I’m going to lose everything” begins. See how deep the rabbit hole can get? All of this because of that one thought “I don’t deserve to be happy.” So, remember, you deserve your version of happy. Don’t let anyone take that away from you not even your negative thoughts should have that sort of power of you.
- Look After Others (with boundaries): We all know that sharing is caring. People often feel good after caring for someone else, whether it’s a stranger a child, animal, or even a plant. It is good to dedicate your time, kind words or just your presence to others. But, be sure to keep yourself nourished as you are nourishing others.
Remember, your body is your vessel. Look at is as your car to get to work. Except, your body is like your transportation throughout your entire life. As we age, we may find our cars don’t drive as fast as they once did AND we often have to do our annual, monthly, weekly or even daily maintenance on our vehicle. It can be quite a task, it can be time consuming, and often times we are not always consistent. But, when we remember that we need to do the work, we have to allow ourselves to be humbled and just put in that effort. Most people are not running marathons every month, or meditating for an hour every day. For most people, that doesn’t feel practical. And that is okay! Just find what works for you, and begin the journey. If you fall off, just get back up and continue down the path to wellness.
A few things for the mind and body all at once:
- Tai Chi, Meditation, Yoga— Read up on it, research it and see if it is for you
- Massage Therapy
Recommended Books to Read:
- The Body Keeps the Score: By Bessal Van der Kolk, M.D
- Anatomy of The Spirit: By Caroline Myss PH.D.
- The Power of Now: Eckhart Tolle
- The Mind-Gut Connection: Emeran Mayer, M.D
- The Secret Language of Cells: Jon Lieff, M.D
- A Mindful Year: Campbell Danesh & Gillihan, M.D
- Lymph and Longevity: Lemole, M.D.
- Complete Aromatherapy Tai Chi and Massage
By: Ashley Vazquez, MFT, EAP Counselor