The Mind-Body Connection

The mind and the body are like parallel universes. Anything that happens in the mental universe must leave tracks in the physical one

Deepak Chopra

Your mental state affects your physical state, and vice versa. When one, whether intentionally or not, gets neglected the other will also suffer. We all know this, but with our busy lives we often find ourselves so short of free time that we are forced to chose and prioritise either our mental or physical health.

It’s not uncommon to see successful professional people devote all of their time and attention to their career, to the detriment of their health. They eat junk food at their desks and don’t take time for physical activity. Even more worryingly, their sleep patterns are very unhealthy, and they are constantly feeling stressed and unable to switch off and unwind.

On the other hand, we’ve also all met those whose main focus is their physical health and wellbeing. So much so that work, study and even relationships suffer. We need to find a healthy balance between the two states, physical and mental,  if we are to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.

Not paying attention to your mental AND physical health together is a recipe for disaster, but we find ourselves trapped so we make a deal with ourselves. We tell ourselves that we will go to the gym tomorrow, the diet will restart tomorrow, we will start reading more once we reach a weight loss target and the list goes on and on….

The problem is that tomorrow comes and goes and we are still in the same situation. Again, we make promises about what we will start doing. We only take action, though, once things start to go wrong. Your mind and body both have their own ways of issuing warning signs that they are feeling neglected and require your attention. This could be the onset of depression as a result of not taking your mental health seriously, or illness as a result of neglecting your body.

Stress and a lack of sleep affect your body’s ability to fight off disease and infection. I know this better than anyone after what I experienced. Spiralling into depression, I wasn’t sleeping or even giving my physical health much consideration. I stopped exercising and eating well. This affected my immune system and my body’s ability to fight off infection. Before long,  I came down with a cold which got steadily worse until I found myself in hospital fighting for my life. Lesson learned.

Why is the mind-body connection so important to consider when chasing your goals and striving to become the best version of yourself? Simple answer? When you take care of your physical health, you will find yourself with increased energy levels, and a more positive mindset. Increased energy levels will allow you to achieve more in your day, and a positive mindset will not only open your eyes to opportunities but also help you to bounce back stronger after a setback. If, however, you adopt a workaholic mentality you are inviting trouble. Sleeping less and not making time to work on your physical health and fitness  will inevitably lead to stress and potentially a mental or physical breakdown.

Which scenario sounds better to you? Yep, achieving your professional and financial goals while getting into the shape of your life doesn’t sound bad at all. And it can be done. There are plenty of examples of people who manage exactly this, and it’s all a matter of discipline and commitment. We all have the same amount of hours in our days, after all, it’s just that some make better use of those allotted to them.

Mens sana in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body)

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