Written by Valiant Living Recovery on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
Coping with mental health struggles is a complicated, multi-faceted endeavor. While caring for your emotional and psychological wellbeing is critical for managing your mental health, neglecting the needs and sensations of your physical self can be detrimental to your overall wellness and mental health progress. If you want to become healthier and live fully getting in touch with your body, living in the present moment, and understanding the relationship between your mental and physical health is key.
Learning to truly feel, accept, embrace, and address the physicality of your body is often challenging. To function efficiently in a professional and interpersonal capacity, ignoring physical sensations and distancing yourself from your physical self seems to have productive benefits. However, this practice can have lasting negative effects on your mental health including a distorted self-image, an inability to identify and cope with physical symptoms, and a damaged relationship with the body.
Individuals coping with a substance use disorder (SUD), mental illness, or chronic pain often experience a distance between their mind and body. Many substances can be used to dull physical sensations or emotions, resulting in an enduring disconnect. With mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and more, individuals may find that distancing themselves from their bodies makes coping with the mental symptoms easier by limiting their focal points and separately categorizing their experiences.
Similarly, individuals with chronic pain may find that distancing themselves from their bodies helps them manage their physical symptoms through dissociation. This then leads to an increased capacity to function but a decreased awareness of mental and physical sensations.
The tendency to disconnect from your body is common because doing so provides the ability to function more productively without interruption, but the disconnect between mind and body can be dangerous. Getting back in touch with your body may be painful, but by doing so, you can become more aware of your mental and physical struggles and learn how to cope with them in healthy, productive, long-lasting ways.
There are many ways to become more aware of your body, and mindfulness practices can be useful in this regard. Even if meditation does not appeal to you, there are other ways you can invoke mindfulness and reconnect with your physical self.
One common mindfulness practice involves what is known as a body scan. This exercise requires you to identify areas of pain or tension in your body so that you can focus on alleviating it. By breathing deeply, focusing on your physical self, and actively making an effort to improve your physical condition, you can increase your awareness of your body as well as where you carry the most tension and where you house pain. A body scan is a great tool for alleviating physical stress and learning to listen to your body.
Movement is one of the most engaging and effective ways to get in touch with your body. Yoga is a popular choice for physical activity when mindfulness is involved because of its numerous benefits. Practicing yoga encourages a stronger mind-body connection by building strength, balance, flexibility, and more. Yoga forces you to be aware of your physical self as you control your breathing, hold poses, and engage your body.
If yoga does not suit your preferences or physical ability, other activities such as dancing, gardening, and swimming can also boost your body awareness and keep you active and healthy.
Wellness encompasses physical and mental health. Making an effort to address your body’s needs and take care of your emotional and physical well-being will help you stay healthy and more productive.
To stay on top of your physical needs, you should ensure that you prioritize proper rest, nutrition, and exercise. Getting enough sleep each night can make an immense difference in your ability to function mentally and physically because it gives your body a chance to recharge and repair itself. Eating a balanced diet is also important to give your body the nutrients it needs to function. Frequently skipping meals and consuming mostly processed foods can have a detrimental impact on your health, so avoiding these practices benefits your health.
Some activities like yoga and dancing help you get in touch with your body and also provide great exercise. By getting your heart rate up, engaging your muscles, and working up a sweat you can effectively boost your energy levels, reduce your stress, and have more confidence.
Getting in touch with your body can improve your mental and physical health through increased awareness, connection, and activity. Being disconnected from your body makes dealing with pain and displeasure easier in the short term, but dissociation is a problematic technique that leads to a lack of body awareness and can limit your emotional regulation. A healthy mind-body connection is essential for optimal health and many of us do not have a strong or steady relationship with our physical bodies. Improving this relationship helps you to be more aware of your physical and emotional struggles. You may also find it easier to achieve a higher quality of life through your heightened body awareness. At our men’s facility in Denver, Colorado, we aim to give you the support and guidance you need to control your life and live more fully. By getting in touch with your body, you can reconnect with your physical self, address its needs, and improve your overall wellness through mindfulness practices, self-care, and more. To learn more about how Valiant Living can help, call us today at (303) 952-5035.