Mental health is no joke. The struggle with anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and panic can feel endless. The search for answers can seem fruitless. When you don’t have resources, outlets, or guidance, it can all appear to be hopeless. Fortunately, you can implement small changes in your lifestyle today that can have an immediate positive impact. In both the short and the long term, integrating meditation and movement can be transformative.
The Mind-Body Connection
One of the most troubling failures of Western medicine has been an inability to see the connection between mind and body. Eastern medicine has grasped this concept for millennia. Ayurveda, Buddhism, and traditional Chinese medicine all include these teachings. Across the East, practices like meditation are combined with daily walks. Herbal remedies are offered after bones are set to relax the mind and remain calm. Maintaining a healthy mind has always been important to maintaining a healthy body.
In the West, the focus has long been on immediate answers to urgent problems. Surgery and pharmaceuticals are the foundations of medicine here. Of course, surgery and pharmaceuticals have their place. Sometimes you need to cut out a cancerous tumor or repair internal bleeding. Other times you need relief from intense pain or chemical intervention for a hormonal imbalance. The problems arise when we rely too heavily on immediate interventions and forget about holistic approaches.
Mental Health Issues and Finding Relief
In terms of mental health, surgery typically has no place. Pharmaceuticals can help, particularly when you’re in desperate need of some relief. In those situations, online mental health medication can offer a reprieve from disorders like anxiety and depression. Lives have been helped by mental health drugs that interrupt negative thought patterns. But real, long-term mental health approaches have to be multi-pronged. Yes, get the medicine, and integrate lifestyle changes that will help and last.
When you start doing healthy things, like meditating and moving your body, you start to feel better. The world opens up. You can gain more clarity about your life and other lifestyle changes you might want to make. The nice thing about meditation and physical movement is that they’re free. Aside from a comfortable pair of walking shoes and maybe a yoga mat, you don’t have to buy anything. You can start today with whatever shoes you have and a chair or the bare floor. And you can find almost immediate relief.
Why Meditation Helps
Meditation, the ancient art of relaxing the mind and body, has been a spiritual practice for millennia. Eastern medicine taught meditation to connect with the sacred, to raise consciousness, and to transcend the material world. Alongside those ethereal benefits, meditation has also always had a healing element. Meditating offers huge benefits, like relieving stress, easing anxiety, and even treating depression. Today, science is catching up with what ancient practitioners knew.
The Mayo Clinic encourages meditation to help improve symptoms of serious illnesses. Evidence shows it lowers your risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and even helps manage cancer side effects and chronic pain. Take five minutes to sit quietly, breath deeply, and quiet your mind. You’ll feel the difference. Your stress levels will drop, anxiety pulls back, and depression eases up. As you grow your practice, you can expand it to include other elements, like movement.
Why Physical Movement Helps
Physical movement is one of the best ways to quickly improve your mental health. Stressed? Go for a walk. Anxious? Go for a walk. Depressed? Go for a walk. Taking a 30 to 45-minute walk can lift your mood and calm you down. Sometimes, you’ll start to feel better halfway through the exercise. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a walk. Swimming, yoga, riding a bike, and any other physical activity count. The point is to get your body moving, your blood pumping, and your lungs working.
The benefits of physical movement are above reproach. Physical activity has been an answer to the problem of poor physical health for centuries. Now, however, physical activity is becoming a solution to poor mental health as well. Therapists are increasingly asking their patients about their physical activity and even prescribing it. This shift is not intended to negate the benefits of pharmaceuticals. Rather, physical fitness can be another tool in a kit aimed at total wellness. And who knows? Maybe it, together with meditation and other natural practices, can eventually replace medication for some. That’s how powerful it is.
Combining Meditation and Physical Movement Maximizes Results
So, you have abundant evidence from reputable sources that meditation and physical movement improve mental health. It is not a stretch from there to see how combining the two can have an even greater impact. You can integrate meditation and movement into your day in several ways. Waking up in the morning for a stroll in the early sunshine is an excellent mood booster. Follow your walk up with a few minutes of meditation, and you set yourself up for a beautiful day.
When you feel ready, you can even take meditative walks and do both at once. A practice called forest bathing is popular in Japan; people walk among the trees expressly for relaxation purposes. You can create your own practice that includes walking somewhere calming, focusing your thoughts, and regulating your breathing. However you decide to build your practice, start today. There is no downside to meditating and physical movement, and your mental health will surely thank you for it.