Your physical and mental health are more intertwined than you might think. Have you ever noticed yourself feeling stressed and then realized that your shoulders and neck are holding tension? Or have you ever felt anxious and then noticed your leg bouncing up and down? Both of these examples illustrate the mind/body connection. While this connection can perpetuate stress and anxiety, it can also help to combat it. Here are two quick tips:
Progressive muscle relaxation: This exercise entails building tension in parts of your body, holding it, and then releasing it. This practice usually works best when you go from head to toe, but you can even try balling your fists for a quick release.
Deep breathing: When we’re anxious, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. Try to reverse this automatic response by taking full, deep breaths from your lower abdomen. Count your inhales and exhales to keep your mind occupied.
Pay more attention to the feelings in your body, and see if you notice the mind/body connection for yourself!
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.