Mind and body: You can’t have the health of one without the other.
We all know the benefits of incorporating regular activities and exercise into your life. There are the physical benefits of exercise, such as keeping your heart healthy, strengthening your joints and boosting your immune system.
But exercise and keeping active also benefits your body and mind by producing feel-good endorphins, helping you sleep better, maintaining a healthy weight, improving your overall health, and increasing your energy. It can positively affect stress and anxiety levels, improve your mood, and focus and think more clearly. All great reasons to get moving!
Our minds and bodies work in a complex interrelationship. How active we are, what we eat and how much sleep affects our mental health.
Equally, our thoughts, feelings and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our physical health. That's powerful.
Moving the body, boosting the mind.
Here are some great activities that not only offer great physical benefits but also benefit the mind. These are activities that should easily fit into most schedules.
Dancing focuses on bodily movements and emotional expression and is a fun way to stay healthy. A dance class, exercise class, or even dancing alone in your room could be enough to make a difference. Dancing can also allow us to become more connected and social.
Not only does gardening give you a decent workout, but it is also what we call a mind-anchoring activity that can allow you to channel your thoughts, providing a much-needed break from routine office tasks. Gardening is also great for sharpening cognitive skills such as concentration.
Going for a walk
Walking is an excellent form of low-impact physical activity and can be done at any time of the day and your own pace. Spending time walking in a park or bushland, among nature, can have a calming and effect that helps alleviate stress. A simple walk in the park at lunchtime can help to rejuvenate, calm and clear your mind.
Mindfulness through mediation
Yes – the term mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword, but for a good reason. In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment, paying attention to where your mind is, and learning to keep your attention where you want it to be. Our minds often get caught up thinking about the past or worrying about the future, and mindfulness helps us stay in the present moment.
Commonly, you practice mindfulness through meditation, which involves sitting down somewhere quiet and turning your mind's attention to your body and breathing. With practice, you gradually learn to tame the sounds and sensations around you. By regularly practising mindfulness, you can get better at calming the mind and keeping things in perspective.
Like most other vigorous exercises, running triggers the release of endorphins in your body, which acts as a stimulant in the body. If you're new to running, consider joining a park run. Park-runs are free, and weekly community events organised all around the world. Often held during weekend mornings, these are positive and welcoming events, whether you choose to walk, jog or run.
As you become a running regular, your prolonged runs can trigger feelings of pleasantness, stress reduction and mood elevation – what is referred to as a runner's high.
Yoga is excellent for increasing your endurance, strength and flexibility. It teaches focus, deep, mindful breathing and promotes self-awareness, meditation and connecting with our bodies. When you are doing yoga, you concentrate on your body and mind through your breath, which can help alleviate tension and stress. The various poses and breathing exercises serve as a tool to regulate emotions and calm the mind, strengthening your emotional state throughout the day.
Admittedly, this last one is not for anyone who loves to sleep in. Bootcamp workouts are high-intensity, structured workouts designed to help you lose weight, get in serious shape, work every muscle in your body, and lead by an instructor who means business. They can be social events and often take place early morning across parks and beaches throughout the country.
It is for those that are looking to significantly improve their fitness and are prepared to sweat for it.
How to create a wellness routine... and stick to it.
A wellness routine will look different for everybody. Here are the important questions you need to ask yourself to give yourself a fighting chance to stick to your new routine.
- What is it that you would like to achieve? What is important to you? Do you want to focus mainly on physical fitness, or are you more interested in just getting away from the desk once in a while?
- Are my goals realistic? If you are not a morning person who enjoys rising at 5 am, an early morning boot camp in your local park may not be for you. If your goals are overly ambitious, you may make it more difficult for you to achieve them.
- Have I scheduled a time in my day for exercise? It would help treat your exercise and wellness activities like any other important task in your workday.
- How am I fuelling my body? The food you put into your body is your fuel and is part of a healthy lifestyle that allows you to maintain energy levels, boost immunity and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Am I being kind to myself? Figuring out a wellness routine that works for you takes time. Rather than being a source of negative self-talk or stress, try to practise compassion with yourself, just like you would with your best friend.