What is International
Mind-Body Wellness Day?
Before we dive into how you can improve your wellness by fostering certain habits, it is essential to understand what International Mind-Body Wellness Day is. January 3rd of every year is known as International Mind-Body Wellness Day (1). This is a day to reassess the practices in your life that can help build and maintain a more balanced mind-body connection (2).
Finding balance in life and creating a better version of yourself is as old as human existence. From the ancient Vedic culture of India that practiced Ayurveda(3,4),to ancient Greek medicine (5,6), to modern-day mindfulness (7,8), the pursuit of creating a more balanced life has always been sought.
January ushers in the new year, and what better way to start the new year than by looking at how you can cultivate your personal mind-body wellness!
Tip 1: Some form of Meditative Breathing
Meditation is a very effective way to help relieve stress and allow you to focus on the here and now. Getting to that meditative state can take various forms. For example, breathing exercises, Tai Chi, and yoga are fantastic ways to get your mind and body in the present moment (9,10,11,12)!
Mindfulness breathing is where you pick a calming word or sound that you repeat slowly while inhaling and exhaling. Focus on the word or sound to remain present if your mind begins to drift. Diaphragmatic breathing is another breathing technique that can help with relaxation and stress. This approach involves deep breathing that contracts the diaphragm and expands the belly and is most commonly practiced while meditating or doing Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is a mind-body practice. This martial art allows you to center with movement and breathing. It also improves strength, balance, and the brain. Studies have found it effective in combating Alzheimers (13). Yoga is another mind body practice that incorporates movements that help strengthen the body and allow you to center your mind in the here and now while moving in various poses. Not only does yoga help you physically, but it can also improve your mental health (14).
Tip 2: Regular Exercise - Movement is Medicine
Physical activity is excellent for not only the body but also for your mind. Exercise is a crucial piece of the puzzle to balance your overall physical, mental, and emotional health (15). Regular exercise has been shown to leave a person with improved brain health, sleep, and cognitive function!
Now, this doesn't mean you have to train for a bodybuilding competition (unless that's your thing, then go for it)! It can be as simple as making more time for walks or walking the dog more frequently. Again, it's about moving your body; ideally, you find some form of physical activity you enjoy. And yes, Tai Chi and yoga count! Other options include weight lifting, running, kickboxing, swimming, and cycling.
Tip 3: Regular Sleep
Sleep is perhaps one of the most neglected aspects of mind-body wellness. Sleep tends to suffer in a world where we're meeting deadlines and constantly on the go. In 2022 the average individual gets less than seven hours of sleep. In the United States alone, 70 million people are impacted by sleep disorders (16)! To top it off, about 44% of adults worldwide reported that the quality of sleep they experience has diminished over the past five years.
Proper sleep hygiene ensures you are less tired throughout the day and improves your cognitive function strengthening memory and concentration. In addition, adequate sleep is excellent for your immune system and may even combat weight gain (17).
Tip 4: Mindful Foods and Hydration
Diet is another critical piece of the mind-body wellness puzzle. Poor nutrition can lead to a poor mood. Bad moods can impact how you interact with others and treat yourself (18,19). In addition, foods full of preservatives that are not healthy or clean can damage physically and contribute to poor brain function and mental health.
Eating clean foods with mindful ingredients that are good for your body can go a long way to bringing about a more balanced you. A clean diet means your food consumption primarily consists of whole, unprocessed foods. It is also about being mindful of food labels to ensure that items are made with nutritious ingredients to help your body.
Lack of water intake is another problem that can lead to an imbalance of mind and body. Proper hydration keeps the body and mind working. Dehydration can lead to many issues, including reduced cognitive function, lack of focus, mood swings, and lack of emotional empathy or energy. In addition, it can wreak havoc on your memory (20).
Drinking plenty of water is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get on track with your mind-body wellness. So don't ignore when your body is letting you know it's time to drink some water. Staying hydrated will help keep you tip-top!
Tip 5: Having Fun and Staying ConnectedThe social aspects of health can often be overlooked. We tend to focus on exercise, sleep, and diet. We then forget that being connected to family, friends, and loved ones elevates us and can improve our overall health (21). Cognitive decline was 70% lower in people who maintained frequent social activities.
Try something new! You can join a class, go to an event, or make an effort to spend more time with family and your community. You can volunteer to help give back or start a new hobby you've always been interested in with others that share that interest. Putting yourself out there and engaging in activities you are drawn to will help your overall mood and wellbeing giving a positive outlook on what can be accomplished in the coming year!