Being productive is a good feeling. Who doesn’t love the sense of relief you get when you check something off your to-do list? Not to mention, we’re rewarded for productivity in our work culture and praised by our peers for having “productive” days. Have you thought how the mind-body connection comes into play?
Hailey Miller is a freelance writer, marketing professional, and has a health coach certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Read on to hear how Hailey explains the mind-body connection.
Our to-do lists grow at exponential rates, we work to maintain work-life balance, and our distractions are plenty, we move through our days so quickly attempting to be as productive as possible, we end up accomplishing less and not showing up as our true and authentic selves.
If you looked at my computer screen at any given time, you’d find 2-5 windows with about 10 tabs open on each. With contents from ranging from work to editorial sites and the news to social media and, of course, online shopping I’m doing 15 things at once but accomplishing nothing.
As I quickly jump from tab-to-tab and task-to-task I don’t remember sending emails and forget to eat lunch, or worse, eat lunch so quickly I barely realized that I’ve eaten. My brain is disconnected from what my body is doing.
About 6 years ago, I’d completely lost touch with myself. I was emotional, irritable, not present, and didn’t like who I had become. I discovered the importance of the mind-body connection and mindfulness practice as the vehicle to achieve it.
Being “productive” didn’t have to feel so hard. That productivity did not have to equal more, and it did not have to equal stress. In reality, when I enhanced my mind-body connection I was able to do less work that had more of an impact, felt more confident in my relationships, less stressed, and healthier.
Want to feel less stressed? Read up on the science of stress and the role of exercise!
The mind-body connection theory
The mind-body connection is quite simple in theory. It is defined as it is the interconnection between our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and the biological functions of our bodies. Think of it this way, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are and our bodies can affect how healthy our minds are.
This concept is simple at first glance, but deepening this connection due to its biological nature can be quite complex. Achieving the mind-body connection, especially when we’ve been programmed to think and want “more” in our fast-paced society can be challenging but essential.
Given this definition, it should come as no surprise that, yes! getting our minds and bodies talking to one another can greatly enhance our productivity.
A few key ways the mind-body connection enhances our productivity include:
- Increased clarity and decision-making ability
- Improved physical & mental health
- More focus & attention to detail
When we feel these things, we’re more attuned with what’s happening in front of us and can show up as authentic versions of ourselves. We’re also able to remove the clutter or noise that’s happening around us and focus on what’s really important.
Even the Marines get trained in mindfulness to help them decrease their stress so they can be more productive!
How to Achieve the Mind-Body Connection
I found one of the best ways to achieve the mind-body connection is to adopt a mindfulness practice. Many of us think mindfulness equals meditation – sitting cross-legged on a mat chanting at a retreat in Bali chanting.
Meditation is great, but the good news is, you can make your mindfulness practice your own. There are many ways to integrate mindfulness into your day. If you’re new to meditating try an app like Calm or Headspace. There are also many free meditations available on sites like YouTube or as podcasts. Body scans are great to get your body in alignment with your brain.
If meditation isn’t your think, there are plenty of other ways to become more mindful and connect your mind and your body.
Below are just a few ways you can achieve mind-body connection. You’ll notice that some of these activities are for the mind and some are for the body again highlighting the complex interrelationship between the two.
While we breathe involuntarily all the time, being more cognizant of our breathing can help to calm our central nervous system. Try a simple breathing exercise by breathing in for a slow count of four, holding for four, and exhaling for four. Alternate nostril breathing is also effective and great for getting started.
Freehand writing is an excellent way to tune in with your emotions and physical body. You can write freeform or use a more structured journaling method with prompts. Try writing down how you’re feeling in your body and how you’re feeling in your mind at the same moment in time. You may find correlations between the activities that make you feel anxious and frenetic or out of touch with your mind-body connection.
Physical fitness increases the oxygen to our brain and releases feel-good chemicals. Our body takes that as a sign that we’re doing something good and healthy for it. When the body knows this, it trusts that we love it so it can release stress and relax. It also helps us have a more positive perspective.
Amplify your diet
Add more nutritious whole foods, especially fruits and veggies to your diet. Since our minds react to how our bodies feel, delivering the essential nutrients to our bloodstream and our brains are essential for cognitive function, reduction of anxious feelings, our mood, and body function.
When we appreciate what we have, we are more able to receive good things. Our awareness for all that is good opens up our minds to new possibilities and helps us gain clarity.
As you become more aware of your own mind-body connection through your mindfulness practice, you’ll start to become acutely aware of moments when you’re out of touch. You’ll be able to use your tools to bring you back to centre. A great way is to take a step back, inhale and exhale deeply and fully a couple times and then return to the present moment.
You’ll find yourself moving through your day with more ease and grace – checking off that to-do list in no time!
I hope that these exercises will help you improve your mind-body connection so that you can become a more productive participant in your life!