Our physical and emotional health may be more connected than you think. Someone feeling nervous will often feel the tension in their stomachs. And when they feel sad they can feel the heaviness in their limbs. These physical reactions to our emotions speak to the fundamental connection between our minds and our bodies. Noticing these somatic feelings and their relationship to our moods can help us better identify and articulate our emotions. They can also show us areas where our bodies may need more attention and care.
This connection between our minds and bodies goes beyond temporary reactions and sensations. From research, we know that stress and anxiety can lead to physical pain as well as long term health consequences. Even stress from positive events affects our bodily systems and can cause high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, back pain, fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and trouble falling asleep. Noticing when you are experiencing stress and taking care of your mind and body during these times can improve your long-term quality of life.
As easy as it is to suggest taking care of yourself, tending to your needs can feel incredibly difficult, especially when facing depression, anxiety and other mental health struggles. Start by taking small steps to nourish yourself and move your body in ways that feel gentle and good. Consider some of the suggestions below to help tend to your physical and mental health:
Eat a nourishing meal or snack. Practice mindfulness and notice the tastes, smells and textures.
Drink a glass of water. Hydration is critical for keeping our brains sharp and managing our moods.
Make a plan to improve your sleep hygiene. The amount and quality of sleep impacts all of our bodily systems.
Move your body in a way that feels joyful to you, which could mean taking a walk, dancing in your room, or doing whatever makes you feel good.
Practice stress management techniques and engage with something or someone you love. Call a friend or family member, spend time on your hobby, or immerse yourself in a creative outlet.
Calm your mind and body using grounding skills and relaxation methods, such as meditation or deep breathing, which can help bring your emotions into balance.
Olivia Shay, Therapy Intern is a clinical intern and will receive her master’s degree in social work with a concentration in clinical mental health from Boston College in spring 2022. She completed her BA in Psychology and Global Health Studies at Northwestern University.
Prior to joining Looking Glass, Olivia interned at an employee assistance program where she supported clients in crisis and provided individual and group counseling for substance use and mental health concerns.