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Think happy thoughts… and 5 other tips for greater body-mind balance

 

Smile

Sometimes we tend to underestimate just how important it is to live a balanced life in order to be happy, satisfied, healthy and successful.

The way we often live our lives today — at a fast pace, and always on the run — is not helpful either. Mostly, we do not even see the consequences until they hit us in the face, perhaps when it might be too late.

We need to create change for ourselves before we completely burn out. Achieving and maintaining body and mind balance can be extremely beneficial, and is not as difficult as it seems. Changing your routine even a little bit and doing a few additional small things each day can bring great benefit to your overall wellbeing and effect helpful, healthful change on a physical, emotional and mental level.

1. Use aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, which is used either in massage or in diffusers and oil burners, is a holistic therapy that treats body, mind and spirit. Essential oils that are used in a massage, for example, are both inhaled (such as when used in oil diffusers) and absorbed by the skin (in massages or baths), which brings benefits to the physical body and has calming, balancing effects on the mind.

The oils can also be deodorising, cleansing, toning and balancing, and, depending on the combination of oils used can address and relieve many different physical ailments and mental stresses, such as by improving digestion, soothing skin irritations, eliminating headaches, improving your mood etc.

2. Have a long bath

There’s nothing like a good long bath after a hard day. Aside from being a pleasure by itself, a nice warming bath is a great relaxing ritual which does wonders for your body and mind. Dipping your body in hot water improves blood circulation and increases the capacity of your heart.

Baths can also help to relieve headaches — most headaches are caused by the narrowing of blood vessels in the head. Hot water helps to alleviate the pressure by aiding those vessels to relax and “widen”, thus curing the headache. A warm bath also soothes joint pain and cold symptoms, and lowers blood pressure.

Adding lavender or eucalyptus essential oils into your bath further aids relaxation. Taking a relaxing bath is a natural way to induce sleep, because, after it, your brain triggers bedtime signals. This happens because the warm water slightly raises your body temperature, which is then gradually lowered when you step out of the bath. This makes you feel drowsy and therefore, better prepared for sleep.

3. Stretch and practise deep breathing

Stretching helps you to you improve your range of motion and gives you better flexibility, which then aids in improved physical activity and decreases the risk of activity-based injuries. Stretching can also increase blood flow to muscles and thus warm them up for further activities. Even a simple walk can be more pleasant if you are properly prepared.

Deep breathing results in reduced anxiety and stress, muscle relaxation, increased energy levels, decreased feelings of stress and more stabilised blood pressure. A Harvard researcher, Herbert Benson, created the term “The Relaxation Response” pointing out the benefits of short periods of meditation with deep breathing as a focus. The relaxation response counteracts the psychological effects of stress, which makes it a useful practice to know when there is a need to fight daily and unexpected stressors.

4. Sleep in the right position 

Do you wake up in the morning with lower back pain or any other discomfort? That may well mean that you’ve been sleeping in a wrong position. Good sleeping positions are one of the key secrets of those who call themselves a “morning person”.

To ensure that you’re sleeping correctly, there should be no empty room between your body and the bed when you are lying down.Fill any gaps with pillows (such as between the knees or lower back and the mattress) or simply change your position. Your pillow should not be too high or too low and your mattress should be neither too hard nor too soft.

5. Balance nutrition and exercise

As I learned from my personal trainers in Dubai, our food intake is the fuel necessary for maintaining a regular and comprehensive fitness routine. Not only that, some researchers suggested that what you eat can actually affect your mood. The best way to achieve positive mood is to eat variety of foods from different food groups (fruits, vegetables, meat, legumes, milk, etc.).

A great trick that nature has up its sleeve is folic acid, which is especially helpful for fighting low mood or depression. Folic acid can be found in foods such as brown rice, cereals, leafy greens, and bananas.

As for physical activities, the most important and useful advice is to do what makes you feel well — be it walking in the park, dancing, yoga, going to the gym or whatever feels good, supportive and safe for you.

6. Think happy thoughts

One of the most important messages that the Buddha taught was: “We are what we think”. If we think happy thoughts, we will be happy. Positive thinking, besides the obvious benefits for the mind, carries just as many benefits for the body. It increases life span, lowers levels of distress and rates of depression and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Optimists can face stressful situations much better and instead of falling to despair, are motivated to find solutions that can benefit all concerned.

Being kind to other people can also help you feel good. Being kind to yourself is even better. Enjoy doing the things you love, whether it is reading a book, going to the movies or meditating in nature.

Anything in life can go wrong, but when you have that balance between your body and mind, you will always have a strong foothold to hit back and come out as a winner. That is why it is so important to do your best to restore it whenever you can.

{Photo: Author’s own}

 

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Nicole Noel

Nicole Noel

Nicole is an avid traveller who is passionate about healthy living. She loves doing yoga and preparing delicious and healthy dishes for her friends. Find and follow her on Twitter or Facebook (links below).

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