The ancient Greeks perceived the connection between the mind and the body. It’s taken a long time for Western medicine to adopt this idea. Science keeps on proving over and over again that there’s a strong connection between our physical health and our mental health.
If you’re feeling depressed and you don’t know why, or if you’re worried about your financial situation, “positive thinking” might not help you. In some cases, the best treatment involves doing something different with your body, not just your mind.
The psychotherapists are working with physicians to treat the entire person is instrumental in addressing patients’ overall health and well-being.
If you’re struggling with psychological distress, there are many ways to treat the problem.
Here are five simple ways you can use your body to heal your mind:
1. Walk to reduce depression
Different studies indicate physical activity can be an effective treatment for mental health problems—and you don’t have to do intense cardio to reap the benefits. Studies show that 200 minutes of walking per week greatly reduces depression and improves quality of life. Actually, a few studies show that walking can be similarly as powerful as taking an antidepressant.
But it’s not only people with depression who can experience the mental health benefits of walking. Taking regular walks boosts emotional health for people who aren’t depressed as well.
2. Smile to decrease physical pain
Researchers have found there’s some truth behind the old saying, “Grin and bear it.” If you’re in pain, smiling can help you feel the discomfort less seriously. Frowning can intensify your pain.
Studies show how smiling influences your physical state. A smile can decrease your heart rate during a stressful activity, even if you don’t feel happy. So the next time you’re about to undergo a painful procedure, think about your “happy place,” or a funny joke, and it might not hurt as much.
3. Take deep breaths to improve attention span
A couple of minutes of deep breathing can improve your focus, and counting those breaths can be especially beneficial if you’re a heavy multitasker.
Studies show that people who multitask have trouble taking tests and performing activities that require sustained focus. Taking a few deep breaths can provide an quick boost in focus, which can improve your productivity.
4. Do yoga to reduce stress and the symptoms of PTSD
Nearly any individual who appreciates yoga likely already knows that it can reduce stress. Research demonstrates how yoga increases the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—a neurotransmitter—in the brain. And increased GABA levels may balance nervousness and other psychiatric conditions.
Studies have additionally discovered yoga benefits people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When compared to a control group, people treated with trauma-informed yoga classes show a significant decrease in PTSD symptoms.
5. Lift weights to combat anxiety
Around 15 percent of the population reports frequent bouts of anxiety, which can typically last for 15 to 30 days per month with symptoms including nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. Without intervention, anxiety can lead to poor sleep, aches and pains, poor health, and physical limitations.
Studies show that weightlifting is a meaningful intervention for anxiety. Perhaps the best news is that you don’t have to do high-intensity weight lifting to reap the benefits. Studies show that moderate-intensity resistance training is more effective at reducing anxiety than high-intensity resistance training.