Beat stress and live better: How your body and mind affect each other
It's fair to say that most of us view our minds and bodies as separate things. We think with our brains and while we may feel that 'we' are in control of our body fully, the truth is something else. Fascinatingly, the body and mind form a sort of circular feedback loop, where our treatment of our body – diet, exercise and so on – impacts our mental state, which then feeds back into our physical health.
Now more than ever, it's important and helpful to know more about this. We're all facing a unique set of stressors and challenges right now – and it affects our ability to save and, in general, maintain our wellbeing. Better mind means better body, and the ability to live well helps you to be a gift to others around you. Everyone wins!
Today we'll be looking at this in a little more detail; how this occurs, how you can benefit, and what to be watchful of.
Starting with stress.
Ah, stress. A subject we can all relate to! It's also a textbook example of how the mind-body connection works in everyday life. We all have been in stressful situations before, be it a crunch-time period at work or a difficult social situation we have to navigate successfully.
The physical manifestations of this stress can be startling. This situation occurs generally in those who are 'chronically stressed' – always in the state or experiencing it regularly for extended periods. Workaholics are notorious for this. The results? High blood pressure is common, and more serious complications like stomach ulcers are a known consequence.
If you're feeling stressed regularly, you should take stock of your situation and see how you can learn to manage it better. Meditation is an excellent salve to the stress problem and has a host of other benefits that we'll list in the next section.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Bible contains an apt quote that is relevant to this subject: 'a man follows his thoughts'. We all can think of someone in our lives who is always negative, and quick to see the bad side of a situation. What's interesting about that? The fact that they trained themselves to become that person.
Our minds are like muscles. The scientific term for this phenomenon is 'neuroplasticity' – the ability for our brains to literally change shape and layout in response to different influences. Studies have conclusively shown that regular practitioners of meditation show notable differences in the structure of their brain through MRI scans after extended periods of the practice. Not only are their brains different, they commonly see growth in the areas of the brain related to feelings of compassion and empathy. They quite literally become better people.
Not only is meditation effective in nurturing the better parts of you, but it's also a direct tonic to stress. If you find yourself often feeling stressed at work or for any other reason, consider building meditation into your daily and weekly routine. It's a habit to be built up like any other, but the results of your hard work will be serious indeed.
Powerful minds have strong posture.
The subject of 'power poses' is intriguing, and is a popular topic for entrepreneurs and the career-minded individual. Just as we can rewire our brains through meditation, we can manipulate our hormone levels – such as testosterone in both men and women – by holding ourselves in different ways physically.
We all know and understand this on an intimate level. Notable leaders and public figures commonly use similar posture and gestures in speeches and conversation, and we all know the picture of a timid person making themselves appear smaller and less threatening through body language.
To boost your confidence and people skills, take a look into power postures and how they can benefit you. It's a deep subject, but you can achieve tangible results by starting with a small range of postures that you can use in the workplace and in other social situations. You might even get a placebo boost to go along with the established benefits!
Your success matters.
There is enough to study a whole lifetime and more where the link between mind and body is concerned. For the average person, simple effort into the basics such as meditation can have a drastic effect on improving your quality of life. A great pursuit through which to better yourself.
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