Your mind and body are connected in many ways. Think about the last time you were nervous. Did you feel butterflies in your stomach or your heart racing? Or when you’ve been sick, have you felt your mood dip or your concentration waver? 

The connection works both ways, as what happens in your body also affects your mind. Understanding the relationship and how the two influence one another is the stuff of biohacking genius. 

While the process is rarely as cut-and-dried as internet headlines scream, knowing what works can significantly improve your overall quality of life. Here’s a closer look at holistic wellness and several ways to strengthen the mind-body connection. 

What Is Holistic Wellness? Exploring the Mind-Body Connection

Holistic medicine goes beyond treating symptoms and addresses the multiple factors influencing optimal health, including the physical, mental, emotional and lifestyle realms. Instead of treating each separately, they’re understood as integral parts of the mind-body system.

Holistic principles help explain why two people can have the same health condition but vastly different outcomes. For example, consider a broken ankle. Traditional medical treatment may involve surgery and a cast. However, that condition may lead to different complications: 

  • A professional athlete training for a competition or a student attempting an athletic scholarship could suffer profound adverse mental health symptoms, such as depression.
  • A low-income worker might go without necessary treatment, causing job disruptions, housing insecurity, ongoing chronic pain and mobility issues. 
  • Somebody with an existing anxiety condition who uses exercise to mitigate symptoms may have an increase in panic attacks. 

Examining each factor that contributes to optimal health can improve outcomes. It can also prevent existing conditions from getting worse and improve other parts of the bodily system to maximize wellness. For example, someone with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet to prevent flares. However, the increase in healthy fruits and veggies also boosts their immune response, making them less prone to colds and flu and even helping them sleep better at night. 

Why does it matter? Remember, the mind-body connection works both ways. Folks with a positive mindset often experience a lower prevalence of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests the effect occurs from participation in healthier behaviors — so showing up and doing the right thing counts, even when you don’t feel like it. Engaging in the right practices strengthens your mind-body connection and creates a greater sense of control over your health. 

13 Holistic Ways to Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection

If you’re ready to take a personal deep dive into the mind-body connection, these 13 holistic practices can help you strengthen it. 

1. Yoga 

Yoga may be the ultimate way to strengthen the mind-body connection. The word itself means “union.” It’s a perfect synonym for the holistic fusion of breath and body movement, physical activity and spiritual meditation, challenge and relaxation. 

There’s a style of yoga to suit everyone, from hardcore Ashtanga and power yoga classes to gentler yin and restorative sessions for those who prefer to sink into stillness. Arriving early, conversing with the instructor and keeping an open mind are the three tickets to finding a guide and vibe you love. You can also practice privately, discovering a wealth of free videos on YouTube or subscribing to a specialty app to get in your mat work at home. 

2. Diet 

The foods you choose greatly influence health and you can tailor your diet for specific health conditions. For example, it’s smart to eat more nuts and seeds if you have depression, as they are rich in minerals like magnesium, selenium and zinc that play crucial roles in neurotransmitter production. Seafood is also a rich selenium source and research suggests the omega-3s it contains may further ease the blues. 

Keto has become a fad in recent years, but doctors originally designed it to help epileptic patients. Evidence suggests that such a diet may have significant benefits for those newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or in a prediabetic state. A staggering 98 million Americans are at risk and many of them have no clue they are in danger. 

3. Mindful Walking 

Who hasn’t experienced arriving at your destination, only to have no memory of how you got there once you arrived? Mindful walking reminds you to pay attention to the journey, not just focus on your destination. 

You can strengthen the connection between mind and body by tuning into each step. Catalog the various things that you see and the sensations your body experiences, from the feel of the wind against your face to your heels striking the pavement. Get inquisitive as you stroll. How does the venue affect your mood and mindset? Do you get a different feeling when you walk down a city sidewalk versus a mall walk for exercise or meandering through the park? 

4. Hike

If you have more time, get out in nature. Doing so is fabulous for your body and mind, boosting your immune response, easing stress and connecting you with other living things. 

Ease your way into the sport by sticking to easy trails at first, gradually working up to tougher excursions. Ensure you wear proper shoes or boots, protect yourself from the sun and insects and notify someone at home of your planned route. Joining a hiking group builds social connection, which also improves holistic health while providing safety in numbers. 

5. Dance 

Dance can absolutely be mindful. All it takes is music and the ability to move your body to the beat. Forget how it looks — make it all about expressing your emotional side through movement. You need not take lessons or follow a formal style. Sometimes it’s easier to communicate and process challenging feelings through sweat and activity versus meditation. 

6. Qigong 

Qigong (pronounced “chee-gung”) harnesses your dynamic energy by uniting breath and body movement like yoga. However, you don’t hold static poses but rather participate in flowing motions designed to move the flow of chi. Although it’s an exercise form, it also encompasses meditation, focused intention, massage and acupuncture elements for complete holistic wellness.

7. Breathwork 

Controlling your breath can change how you feel. Slow, deep breathing engages the parasympathetic side of your autonomic nervous system. That’s the half that tells your body’s unconscious processes it’s time to rest and digest. 

Consciously slowing your breath is often enough. However, you can experiment with patterns like 4-7-8, boxed or 2-to-1 breathing to see which works best for you. 

8. Hydrate 

Your body is roughly 60% water, and you need a regular intake to replace what you lose through sweat and urination. However, a lack of connection between mind and body can result in unpleasant dehydration symptoms like headaches and fatigue that regular sipping could fix.

Get in the habit of carrying a reusable bottle with you everywhere, personalizing it however you like with stickers and setting cell phone alarms reminding you to drink up every 30 minutes or so. 

9. Journal 

Something magic happens while translating the thoughts in your head into words on a page. Journaling can strengthen the mind-body connection and build awareness of factors that may influence your mental, emotional and social health without you knowing it. 

For example, have you had a nagging sense that you should cut back on your drinking? Try going abstinent for two weeks and journaling about how you feel. Reading what you’ve written and reflecting on any improvements in your mood or focus may inspire you to stay off the sauce for good. 

10. Garden 

Gardening engages you in the life cycle, from nurturing seeds to new life to harvesting them from decaying fruit to save for next year’s heirloom collection. Even folks who live in urban apartments can get into the fun with sufficient containers and a sunny window or patio. While this mind-body activity can get pricey, you can learn cheap hacks, such as how to grow new herbs from cuttings and save seeds from organic produce. 

11. Create Art 

You can choose from multiple artistic modalities to strengthen the connection between your mind and body, such as: 

  • Photography
  • Painting
  • Drawing 
  • Charcoal rubbings
  • Sculpture 
  • Jewelry-making 
  • Floral arrangement
  • Filmmaking

12. Play Music 

Playing an instrument is yet another mind-body activity. Break out that violin you haven’t touched since high school or pickup that used guitar you spy at the thrift shop. Learning how to strum it will make you a hit around the campfire while providing a healthy means of self-expression and stress relief. 

13. Meditate

Finally, meditation can strengthen the connection between mind and body. Research even suggests it may encourage neurogenesis or the birth of new neurons. 

There are scores of meditation methods you can try. Mindful meditation entails sitting and building awareness of the present moment through deep breathing. You can also use techniques like a body scan, guided meditations, chanting, drumming or focused meditation to reach an enlightened state.

Feeling It in Your Body — Schedule Regular Holistic Check-Ins

Learning how to perform a body scan strengthens the connection between your mind and body. It’s also a useful exercise to practice throughout the day to check in with yourself, come home to yourself and build awareness of how your physical sensations are impacting your mood at the time and vice versa. 

You can make your body scan quite detailed, which develops your interoception while drawing awareness to minor aches and pains that may influence you without your conscious knowledge. For example, stress could always make you clench your jaw, resulting in headaches that leave you snapping at your spouse. 

Often, the simple act of noticing also inspires relaxation and pain relief. For example, your body scan may include breathing awareness of:

  • Your right eye
  • All the tiny muscles supporting your eye from behind
  • Your temple
  • Your eyebrow
  • Your lids, as they gradually close more gently
  • The side of your nose
  • Your mind’s eye 

Drawing your awareness to each of these areas as you slow down and breathe can sometimes ease the pounding in your temples. 

Can Therapy Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection? 

Therapy can be a great way to strengthen the connection between mind and body. Working with a professional can likewise raise your awareness of how your lifestyle and mood influence your physical health and vice versa. You don’t need a mental illness — scores of people seek such insight and assistance daily to make decisions or manage life stressors. 

However, finding the right therapist can be tough and take months, even years. That’s another reason to seek help before you need it — you can find someone you mesh with. Start by asking your health insurer or primary care physician for a referral or seek sliding-scale facilities if you have financial hardship. You may have to call multiple locations depending on the type of coverage you have. 

Strengthen the Connection Between Mind and Body Holistically

Your mind can influence your physical health and vice versa. Holistic healing methods consider all the factors impacting your wellness, including the mind-body connection. 

The activities above can strengthen the connection between your mind and body and improve your overall health. Feeling better and decreasing your symptoms can create a positive spiral, one that leads to ever-increasing wellness.

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holistic ways to strengthen the mind body connection

Cora gold Editor in Chief

Guest contribution by Author:

Cora Gold | Editor-in-Chief at Revivalist Magazine
Cora Gold is a wellness writer who aims to live a happy, healthy and mindful life. She is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. Connect with Cora on TwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest

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