Organization: Erin Falco RDN, Inc.
Author: Veronica Rechten
Publish Date: 10-31-22
What is Mind-Body Medicine?
Mind-Body medicine is the practice of embracing techniques and therapies that enhance the body's natural ability to heal and promote relaxation. Physical and/or emotional stress can be a challenge many of us face day to day. Which is why "eliminating stress" may seem unrealistic at times. By regularly engaging in mind-body practices, our bodies can have the power to manage stressors or emotions in much more manageable and holistic way.
How it Works
Mind-body practices work on activating our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the “rest & digest” mode of our nervous system. Regularly activating our parasympathetic response helps reduce chronic stress, improve blood pressure, blood sugar sensitivity, enhance digestion and promote restful sleep. Practicing mind-body practices has also shown to reduce emotional stress, strengthen our relationships, and increase empathy and overall well-being.
Taking some time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes, to practice mindfulness, gratitude and stress management techniques is all you need to get started on your mind-body health journey.
3 Examples of Mind-Body Practices:
Meditation is a technique of focus and mindfulness, often guided by breathing methods. Meditation can be done anywhere and at any time. Whether you can find a quiet
place to be still with your thoughts, or while in the midst of a more stressful situation, you can still practice meditation.
Try closing your eyes. Take in slow, deep breaths. With every inhale, focus on the mantra: “I am grateful for____.” The blank can be literally anything that brings you joy or comfort:
Family who loves you
Friends who support you
Pets that give you company & joy
The fresh flowers on your table
Doing this at meal-times can be helpful for mindful eating, and food enjoyment. Before taking a bite, take a look at what’s on your plate and think about:
Being grateful for the farmers who grew/raised the food
Being grateful for the person who created the recipe you’re enjoying
Being grateful for the fact that you have food on your plate.
Being thankful for the colors/textures/flavors of the food you’re eating.
Journaling the things you are thankful for seems like a no-brainer when it comes to gratitude, but some find it very difficult to start, or keep up with. The hardest part is getting started, but it can easily become a habit over time.
Some tips for effective journaling:
Start small: you don’t have to write a whole page every day. Thinking of just one thing from the day and starting there, is a great way to maintain your practice.
Be specific. It may be tempting to write “I’m thankful for my best friend.” Try to drill down the WHYs of that gratitude: “I am thankful for the safety I feel in my friend’s home.” “I am thankful for the way my friend snorts when she laughs.”
Focus on some things that surprised you. When a serious co-worker cracks a joke, a stranger bought your coffee, or your kid washed the dishes without being asked…remember to put it in the journal!
Yoga is not only a way to joyfully move your body, but it also allows you to clear your mind, and access your feelings and emotions. There are several yoga poses that are especially good for practicing gratitude and, much like with meditation, allow you to think on things you can be thankful for. Here are 4 you can try daily:
1. Mountain pose: Standing with feet together, both arms go straight up to the sky while also lifting your face upwards. This both opens your heart, and grounds your feet. Take in 3 deep breaths, and think about gratitude for the sky and the earth.
2. Camel pose: opens your heart and throat, and works tension from the shoulders. Focus on seeing the world from a different perspective and be thankful for those in your life who challenge you
3. Forward bend: Feel tension moving down your body and out through your feet as you increase the circulation of blood to your brain. Take a couple of deep breaths, and find gratitude for the intricate ways that your body functions.
4. Child’s pose: bowing towards the earth is a humbling pose that reminds one of being vulnerable. Take several deep breaths and remember those who have helped you in tough situations when you were at your most vulnerable, or those who are there for you now.
Whether you're struggling to feel grateful this year, or if you just want to remind yourself of what you have to be thankful for, we can all use some help being thoughtful and still. We encourage you to try at least one of these practices for yourself and feel the benefits of gratitude all year!
If you need more nutritional support, visit us at www.erinfalcordn.com for more posts and webinars, or contact us for a discovery call to become a patient.