“Your news broke my heart.”
“I’m worried sick over it.”
People often use idioms to make their language more interesting or dramatic. But our language and choice of expressions often give clues to a deeper meaning.
Have you ever received bad news, and suddenly felt as though you were going to throw up? Or injured yourself and spiraled into a massive depression? Ever been weighed down by responsibilities and unexplainably gained 10 pounds?
True wellbeing encompasses all our parts, not just the physical body. When our emotions are in turmoil or the mind is bombarded with obsessive thoughts, our health is compromised. The human body gives cues and feedback all the time. Sometimes we sense the signals immediately—upset stomach, aching back, pounding headache—but we are so often distracted that we miss the warning signals. When this happens we remain unaware that something is amiss, sometimes becoming seriously ill. It is possible to develop such conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer, from not listening to your body.
This is not to say that all illness is “caused” by our thoughts. The relationship between the mind and body is complex, and sometimes things happen at a physical level for which there isn’t a plausible explanation. We may have an inherent tendency for health or imbalance; in some cases, genetics is the major factor underlying an illness. At the same time, we all have an amazing potential to heal and transform ourselves through our thoughts, perceptions, and choices. The body is a magnificent network of intelligence, capable of far more than what science can explain.
Maintaining balance between the mind, body and spirit is necessary to live a happy and fulfilled life. The three so are interconnected that when one aspect is off, so are the others.
Emotional health and wellbeing is a crucial part of the wellness equation. Stress can distort decision-making, disrupt emotional thought processing and compromise the health of the human spirit. Depression, anxiety and emotional disorders can prohibit people from living happy lives.
One of the easiest ways to maintain physical health is through proper nutrition and regular exercise. Those who make caring for their bodies a priority tend to have more physical and mental energy, sleep better and are often able to enjoy excellent mobility well into old age. Exercise can significantly aid in emotional wellbeing, while depression is often relieved by an exercise routine. There are many different forms of exercise—from walking to Tai Chi—and any form of consistent physical exertion can be beneficial.
The spirit or soul has a great effect on happiness and how people tend to view the world around them. Some people achieve a balanced condition through religious practices or services. A sense of spiritual connection contributes to a positive outlook and can give comfort and strength in times of adversity. Spiritual happiness can also come from secular sources, like meditation or a connection to nature. Spirituality brings humans closer to their true selves.
Here are three places to start as you seek to align and balance your mind, body and spirit.
Practice gratitude. Every day, maybe even starting today, commit to writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for. Eventually, you can make your list any length you want, but to start, set a small goal and stick to it. Write your list in full sentences such as “I am grateful for …” or “I am grateful that …” This way, it’s a complete thought, and you’re not just listing things or people, but actively associating them with giving thanks.
Release it. Many of us harbor emotional toxicity in the form of a destructive habit, a frightening worry or unresolved anger. This contributes to emotional waste that needs to be eliminated. Ask yourself, “What am I holding onto from the past that no longer serves me?” Explore ways to release these unproductive feelings, such as seeking counseling or having a ceremony to say goodbye to the negativity.
Exercise. Find a way to move your body that you enjoy and then commit to it. A complete fitness program includes movement to provide flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning and strength training. If you’re just starting out or re-introducing exercise to your life, refrain from judging what you’re capable of doing or deeming it “not enough.” Just get up and go!
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