Strong Body, Strong Mind: The Mind-Body Connection
The mind-body connection is absolutely critical. When it comes to your physical fitness and performance, it’s not enough to have a strong body. To really excel, whether in sports, business, or life in general, you’ve got to have a sound mind and body.
Just take it from Dr. Kellie Middleton, who lives by the motto, “Strong body, strong mind.” Dr. Middleton is a former professional fastpitch softball player and an orthopaedic surgery resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Middleton’s motto is certainly reflected in her passion for the prevention of chronic disease and emphasis on education to promote healthy behaviors, organized sports, physical fitness, and exercise.
If you want to be the best possible version of yourself, it’s essential that you give your body AND mind the tools that they need in order to thrive. Use this as your guide to unlock your true potential by understanding and implementing the mind-body connection in your everyday life.
What Is the Mind-Body Connection?
We humans are complex creatures with intricate physiological and psychological systems. If you’re only nurturing one of these areas, though, you’re only going to be able to achieve so much before hitting a brick wall. The idea of the mind-body connection is that your physical body and mental thoughts, feelings, and ideas work synergistically in everything you do.
Think about your athletic endeavors for a moment. If your body is in shape to run three miles, but your mind is cluttered, negative, and preoccupied with worries. Compare this to when you have a balanced, stable, and positive mindset. On a stressful day, the last mile feels like 10 miles. On a clear day, the last mile could easily turn into another 10 miles! Research shows that positive feedback, whether internally generated or from an outside source like a coach or team member, correlates to increased athletic performance and self-motivation.
Your internal speech can manifest itself within the body. If all you say to yourself is that you’re weak, well guess what, your body starts to believe you. Even if you are physically capable of pushing through those last 10 reps, you start to accept your negative self talk for truth. Your emotional health and your physical health are intertwined; your body doesn’t forget trauma if your brain can’t overcome it. Read the New York Times best seller “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” if you don’t believe me!
The importance of fostering a healthy mental attitude isn’t limited to reaching peak physical performance. It can also boost your overall wellness and even support a healthy immune system. When you think positively about yourself, those around you, and your environment or circumstances, you reduce stress, promote healthy sleep habits, and give your body the tools it needs to function and self-repair effectively and efficiently.
How to Keep a Positive Mental Attitude
So how can you improve your health, your life, and your physical performance using the power of positive thinking? Here are a few must-know tips to follow in your everyday tasks in order to build a positive mental attitude and fortify your mind-body connection.
1) Don’t dwell. What you think, you become. Instead of focusing on something negative that you can’t change, look toward the goals that you can accomplish in the future.
2) Surround yourself with positive support. It may be cliché, but it’s true: there really is no “I” in “team.” Build a positive network of support through friends, family, coaches, or even your doctor to give you the motivation and positive words that you need when you’re struggling on your own. Even when we’re not meeting together in person, Women’s Health Conversations is connecting healthy, happy, and thriving women all over the country to transform our health as individuals and as a country. Join us on Facebook to get connected!
3) Reframe your “problems” into “opportunities.” Simply changing the words that we use to describe and think about obstacles in our lives can have a profoundly positive effect on our mental attitudes. In fact, studies have shown that if we view stress as a positive thing, something that prepares our bodies to perform with heightened awareness, it can have a positive rather than negative effect on our bodies!
4) Celebrate small victories. Recognize and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. There is something worth celebrating every day, you just have to slow down to find it. Try journaling, meditating, or speaking aloud to yourself before going to bed every day to highlight the positive aspects of your day worth celebrating.
5) Remember that there’s always room to grow. Whether you’re a professional athlete or just beginning to train for your first marathon, there’s always something new to be learned and something to improve upon. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Remember that every professional was once a beginner, too.
The Bottom Line
No matter how hard you train, staying stuck in a mental rut is going to hinder your performance. Every aspect of your life can benefit from nurturing a positive mental attitude and a clear, calm mind. Combine excellent physical and mental health habits to keep your mind-body connection in a healthy place. You can reach your full potential and achieve your goals that you set for yourself, no matter how large or small.
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