The mind and body are interconnected; what is going on for one will affect what happens to the other. For example, when you are mentally stressed, your body will physically tense up. Being physically healthy helps you to be more emotionally resilient. When your body is not okay, there is more sensitivity to emotional triggers, making it harder to function. Therefore, an important part of mental health is taking care of your physical well-being.
It is also helpful to keep this in mind when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Checking in with your body can help lessen the emotional impact. Using techniques to relax your body can reduce the anxiety and stress being experienced. Relaxing your body sends signals to your mind that you are okay and, as a result, can calm you down faster. When your body acts like everything is fine, your mind will catch up.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR MIND BY TAKING CARE OF YOUR BODY
- Balanced Eating. Make sure to have a healthy diet and try to avoid emotional eating and foods that bring down your energy. There are so many theories about what a balanced diet is; find what works for you. Generally, eating 3 meals a day and making sure not to skip breakfast (as many people do) is a good model when it comes to healthy eating. It is also important to stay hydrated and make sure you are getting the necessary nutrients and vitamins. It can be helpful to consult with a doctor or nutritionist in regards to balanced eating.
- Stay on top of your physical well-being. Keep up with annual doctors’ appointments and checkups. Give yourself time to relax each day so that you don’t burn out. When you are sick, exhausted, or just not feeling well, listen to your body and give it what it needs.
- Avoid mood altering substances. Make smart informed choices when it comes to alcohol intake and other substances. Be aware of how your body reacts and what your limits are. Avoid using substances as a coping mechanism and find healthier ways to manage stress.
- Sleeping Habits. Try and get the amount of sleep you require to feel rested when you wake up in the morning. 8 hours is generally the recommendation, but everyone has to determine what typically will work for them.
- Exercise. Make sure to include physical activity in your day. If going to the gym is not your thing, get creative. Yoga, dance classes, and water aerobics are often more fun options for exercise. Think about taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking the extra 10 minutes to the subway instead of taking the bus there. This does not have to be an intense, hardcore workout. Just make sure you are getting at least 20 minutes of designated movement to help keep you energized and healthy.
TIPS TO RELAX YOUR BODY TO CALM YOUR MIND
If you find yourself in a really intense emotional state and it feels like it is impossible to calm down, try the DBT TIP skills. The TIP skills are about changing your body chemistry so that you can calm your mind and sooth intense emotions.
Let’s break it down:
- T=Tip the temperature of your face to calm down fast: put your face in a bowl of cold water or use an ice pack. Hold your breath and keep your face in the water or the ice pack on your face for 30 seconds.
- I= Intense exercise to expend extra energy when your body is revved up by emotions. Run around the block, do jumping jacks, run in place, etc. This is not daily exercise as it relates to physical health, it only has to be a few minutes, to release pent up energy.
- P= Paced breathing and Paired muscle relaxation to slow down your breathing to calm down. Paced breathing is slowing your breath by inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 7 seconds. You can change the count, but make sure to exhale longer than you inhale. Paired muscle relaxation is when you inhale while also tensing up a muscle in your body, then release the muscle as you exhale. Move through all body parts either starting at the bottom with your feet or at the top with your head.
It can be so easy to fall into letting your self-care slide. We forget about both our physical and mental health needs. Don’t fall into that trap; prioritize yourself. Make sure to check in with your mind and body. Stay on top of your needs and put it on the top of your to-do list.