By: Rachel Jackson, MFTC
At times, in the chaos of our everyday lives, we may forget the importance of prioritizing our physical health. Getting to work or school early might take priority over making time for a morning workout. Picking up fast food or a pizza at the grocery store takes ease over making an intentional healthy meal. Our to-do list takes priority over our sleep or making time for rest. Whether it’s money, social reasons, or our mental health, creating a mindful consciousness of our physical health routines can fall to the wayside.
Why is physical health important? Why does my physical health impact my mental health? What can I do to ease my anxiety and stress in my everyday life? If I create a physical health routine, will it be too overwhelming to keep up? How many minutes a day will I have to set aside?
There is science behind movement. Your anxiety decreases through movement because the chemicals in your body are shifting. You produce endorphins through movement, which are mood elevators. Movement mentally makes you feel better, while simultaneously making your body feel better, stronger, and more capable, as well.
Body-Regulation: Get it Out
Being able to self-regulate our bodies will regulate your mental, emotional health as well. Our body stores our trauma and therefore, connecting to our body sensations help us process our emotional experiences. As we increase our endorphins, we are also managing our stress levels with adrenaline and lower cortisol levels. Ultimately, our mind and bodies are connected. Therefore, we should use one to regulate the other.
Sleep and Breathe
Sleep is crucial. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule will aid in more grounding and stability in your emotional state. Furthermore, with ample sleep, you are more physically capable. When you’re not sleeping or able to be in full relaxation, it is important to remember the power of your breath. During high anxiety our breath usually quickens, and our heart rate rises, feeling incapable and overwhelmed with the present and the future.
By recentering our focus on our breath, inhaling and exhaling, our body naturally finds more of an equilibrium. Your stress levels will begin to dissipate, and you will be more capable of being present in your current moment. The challenge is to remember in our times of high stress and high anxiety to stop for a moment. We must remember that our natural rhythm of breathing is our greatest tool. We are breathing anyway; we mind as well use it to our advantage.
Mind, Body & Spirit: Our Body as the Container
It is not only our mind and body that are connected, but also our spirit. Our body is our vessel and our container of our being. It is our job to allow our body to hold the best versions of ourselves so we can live our fullest life, allowing our mind happiness and our spirit freedom. By taking care of the container that moves us through our everyday lives, we connect all aspects of our self: mind, body and spirit. One impacts the other. When one falls, the next will feel the impact.
Nevertheless, prioritize not only your mind, not only your spirit, but also your body. Move to increase the capabilities and the peace in your mind. Self-reflect, using your mind, to understand and uplevel your spirit and your purpose. Connect with your heart and your spirit to move your body intentionally through your life. By focusing on all areas of your “self,” you naturally will find more balance in your stress and anxiety.
Most importantly, be present. The more often you can breathe your existence into the room you are present in – what is right in front of you – here, you can see what you have control over. In the present, there is less stress, less anxiety. Here, in the present moment, you do what you can, as the best version of yourself.
Listen to what your body is asking of you. Tune into how your body feels, what it needs – more sleep to relax, a long walk to be in nature, a challenging workout to find your strength, a minute of present breath to slow down – you have all the answers within you. Start by tuning into the messages of your body and your mind will begin to respond.