Reconnecting with your Body
Looking after your mental well-being is often considered as something you have to do in your head – trying to think your way to a happier place. However, one of the most under-rated ways to increase your well-being is through the body-mind connection. Only trouble is, many of us have a love-hate relationship with the body and don’t like to pay much attention to what is going on beneath the neck. So here are some tips on how to reconnect the body and mind for your greater good.
Learn to value your body
We can become so fixated by how it looks that we lose sight of all the positives that the body does. The brain is a powerful computer that makes everything happen, the stomach provides energy, your skin protects you and your feet and arms take you places. What can you value about your body?
Fall in love with your body
It’s all too easy to get hung up on our imperfections and fail to appreciate our finer points. So, try standing in front of a mirror (pluck up the courage and do it naked) and find five things you like about your body. A good head of hair? Soft skin? Elegant fingers? Lovely eyes? Curves like a cello? Long legs? What do you like about your physical self?
The body scan
Get to know what’s really going on with your body. The body scan is a mindfulness practice that helps you tune into your internal landscape, the physical and emotional sensations. It’s a good way to calm and centre yourself if something has upset you. Lie down, take some deep breaths and start with one of your feet – feel deeply into the body – muscles, bones, the blood flow. Is it hot or cold? Tense or relaxed? Numb or tingling? Notice everything as you scan the body from your toes to the top of your head, paying attention to what is present without judging it.
Use your body as a first-aid kit
Tal Ben-Shahar, a psychologist at Harvard, once said that not exercising is like taking depressants. It can be hard to manage your mood when you’re feeling down. This is where the body can help you feel better, faster. By moving your body, you release endorphins which help you feel good without having to do any mental gymnastics. The key is to do something that is a pleasure rather than a pain. Go for a walk, dance, garden, bounce on a trampoline – whatever feels good to you. Physical activity is one of the most effective tools in combating depression.
One of the simplest ways of reconnecting the body to the mind is to use the breath. If you’re feeling stressed then breathing deep into the belly can act as the body’s brake, taking it out of the ‘fight or flight’ response and into a state of relaxation. There are many benefits to abdominal breathing – it reduces anxiety and depression, increases happiness and optimism, strengthens your ability to manage emotions and curbs impulsive behaviour. One technique, based on a yoga practice, is four-seven-eight breathing. Breathe in through the nose for four, hold for seven and then exhale through the mouth for a count of eight.
Ryvita has teamed up with Miriam Akhtar, Positivity Coach to be part of their Positivity Panel alongside Davina McCall. The panellists were handpicked to help inspire women across the nation to feel confident and happy, whatever their age, through advice, tips and tricks. Head to https://www.ryvita.co.uk/living-well to find out more.