How To Improve Your Mind-Body Connection, According To A Wellness Expert - Exclusive

Prioritizing self-care can be difficult because let's be honest: it can feel selfish or like something only privileged people can afford to indulge in. But there's no better way to celebrate Global Wellness Day on June 11 than putting your mental and physical health at the top of your priority list. Taking care of yourself isn't selfish; just like you can't pour from an empty cup, or drive a car with an empty gas tank, you can't expect your body to keep giving if you don't take care of it. "One day can change your whole life," the Global Wellness Day campaign slogan says, so why not change your life today?

The 2022 theme for Global Wellness Day is #ThinkMagenta, focused on thinking positively and "[adding] color" to otherwise dark thoughts. Living positively isn't about ignoring life's problems, explains Global Wellness Day founder Belgin Aksoy, "it's about being realistic. Things happen in our lives and we have the choice to call them good or bad things" (via Spa Opportunities).

Approaching problems from a positive mind frame is good for not just your mental health, but physical as well because of the mind-body connection. Positive thinking, and being able to take stressful situations and reframe them into learning experiences, all go towards helping support our physical health, per BetterHelp. Likewise, taking care of our physical health, like practicing a daily yoga routine, supports our mental health.

What is the mind-body connection?

The mind-body connection might sound made up, but it's actually a scientifically proven connection. Studies have shown that when you're stressed, your white blood cell production slows down, which means your body has a harder time fighting everything from infections to cancer, per PubMed. Wounds take longer to heal in chronically stressed individuals, these studies show, and vaccines can be less effective.

Mari Sierra, Head of Wellness for J Balvin's new interactive wellness app OYE, explained to The List exclusively that in the last decade, there has been "a paradigm shift in our understanding of our brain-gut axis, that integrates the nervous system with the gastrointestinal and immune systems." She added: "Gut disorders and psychological disorders like depression, anxiety or chronic stress, among many others, are better understood, treated and prevented if we look at our wellbeing as a connection between our minds and bodies."

This shift has led experts to endorse more holistic and homeopathic approaches to healthcare. Sierra mentioned that "functional nutrition, meditation, breathing, martial arts, yoga, dance, and massage" all benefit your body, which helps to lower stress and anxiety, among other psychological and physical issues. "This is the approach we've taken with OYE," she explains about the bilingual app, "by incorporating some of these same culturally conscious practices for everyone to try." Downloading the OYE app, subscribing to Headspace, or taking advantage of Spotify's available meditations are steps you can take on Global Wellness Day to improve your mind-body connection.

This is how you can improve your mind-body connection

There are a multitude of changes you can make, both big and small, that will positively impact your overall wellness. Talk therapy, for instance, has been proven to strengthen your immune system, per PubMed. According to the Neurology Centre of Toronto, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is another great way to support your mind-body connection because of its focus on mindfulness, which can help people manage chronic stress, pain, and conditions like post-concussion syndrome. MBSR can also help boost your memory, attention, and executive functioning.

If you're not ready for therapy, or want something else to add to your wellness routine, Mari Sierra, Head of Wellness for OYE, told The List exclusively that having a "daily practice of gentle movement, stretching, and breathing consciously helps release physical tension and stress that accumulates through the day." Physical movement, BetterHelp explains, produces endorphins and helps support healthy brain function. Taking a fitness class, like spin or barre, or even just going for a walk, are great ways to not only practice self care, but help your body awareness as well. 

Laughter, too, is another important part of being healthy. Not only does it help lower stress hormones in the body, BetterHelp explains, but it also helps strengthen your immune system. So share funny memes with your friends — The List's Instagram is full of them — listen to comedy podcasts, or just make time to connect with people who make you feel good.