Mind & Body
We spend much of our lives constantly connected to events, screens and people - forgetting to be present with ourselves.
The practices listed on this page (see Boosters) are commonly called mind/body practices, in that they affect the brain/mind, body and behaviours. The consequence of these multiple interactions is thought to allow more opportunities for calmness and balance and has potential knock on effects for many significant health problems (anxiety, stress, gut disorders, blood pressure etc).
Taking time out improves our health by activating our parasympathetic nervous system - a real treat for our body. In turn periods of relaxing allow and increase productivity and our general performance. Relaxation is just as important as moving your body.
Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that prevent you from simply letting go and chilling out.
I'm just one of those people that has a busy mind
If we take this view then we are essentially justifying a position of not experimenting with another way of being. By telling ourselves that we can't chill out because we naturally have busy minds simply reinforces the idea that you can't. But we all have busy minds, and that is OK, but we can still learn to relax. Maybe start by saying to yourself - "I can feel relaxed at times, my body knows how to be calm and I can practice this state of being". Then we create opportunities for ourselves - little freedoms to deviate from the expected.
I've tried relaxing and it doesn't work for me
Sometimes it is easier to relax than at other times. Accept the variance, note the times when it is a bit easier or a bit harder. It is important to practise observing without judgement. As above, if you say to yourself it isn't working then you reinforce the idea that it can't in the future. So, be open to possibilities, that you can and have relaxed at times.
I can't afford the time to chill out
If you can't afford the time to relax occasionally, then you are probably not doing well in other aspects of your life. Relaxing takes many forms but it is important to find the things that relax you so that you can revive your body and mind. This in turn allows you to make better decisions and be more effective. Someone who has practiced relaxing is calmer, more receptive to others and in turn other people like to hang around you.
Below are some ideas to try which are often shown to benefit our wellbeing. There are many others but the important thing is that they focus on a combination of relaxation, activation and focus.
Meditation is being researched more and more to determine its effects on health and wellbeing and the research is certainly persuasive. Learn more about the benefits of meditation.
- View reviews of meditation apps, and meditation apps for Australians
- Undertake a course on mindfulness
- Find a meditation group to join
- See when the free university meditation classes are run
- Look at the options on the Smiling Mind site
- Visit Calm.com
- Live awake (youtube)
You can also view some meditation videos below to get a taster.
I don't think many of us need to be convinced about the benefits of using music for our wellbeing. Afterall there is an established music therapy field which operates in many countries around the world. When you wish to change your mood consider initially matching the music to your mood and then start shifting the quality of the music towards a more uplifting style for you. Note that individual preference plays a huge role here and what seems restful for one person will be anxiety producing for another!
Just listening to music has benefits as referenced in this music and health article. Playing an instrument also provides some particular benefits as the creative elements can be very uplifting for mood.
Here are some online lessons to get you started.
Yoga is actually an umbrella term that refers to multiple components which make up the practice of yoga. What most people think of as yoga is actually the component to train the body to move better (the Asanas), but there is a lot more to yoga for those who want to dig a little deeper. Nevertheless, learning some of the 100s of asanas (postures) is a great way to start, and many people feel a great deal of benefit, both in their body and in their mind, from practicing the asanas and learning some basic pranayama (breathing component). Learn more about the benefits of yoga.
So consider joining a class or look at the many online options - some of them remarkably good - that will get your started or advance your practice. There are also quite a few yoga apps.
Feldenkrais is a focus on very considered and better movement. The benefits of Feldenkrais are purported to be better balance and posture, less pain and an improved sense of wellbeing. Feldenkrais classes are a great way of recovering from an injury and re-training areas of the body to work more efficiently. It is not uncommon for sports people and performers to incorporate Feldenkrais into their training regime. These days quite a few physiotherapists do additional training in Feldenkrais so they can better support their clients.
Learn more about the Feldenkrais method.
Martial Arts is actually a very broad collection of styles of movement - many originally developed as a controlled means of combat, but some also for their meditative and focused movement (e.g. Tai Chi and Chi Gong). Learn more about the different categories of martial arts.
To find some classes or explore online classes near you, identify the type of martial art you are interested in and do a bit of a web search.
Here are some online options to get you started.
In recent years the benefits of dance have come under scientific scrutiny and the evidence is overwhelmingly positive. It is speculated that dancing provides a double whammy in terms of the benefits, in that music stimulates reward centres in the brain and the dancing movements stimulate sensory and motor circuits. The outcomes are the creation of new neural connections, significantly improved memory, spatial recognition and executive function.
To get started check out the following sites:
Or get inspired by the videos below.
Get into nature
Here are some ideas about getting back into nature
If nature is not that accessible to you at the moment consider these options:
- Stargazing or cloud watching
- Start a garden. If you’re short on space, try an indoor plant. Bringing the outdoors indoors can be an instant mood booster
- If you can, spend some time near a body of water
- Explore.org - has a whole range of live camera options of animals and landscapes
- At home outdoor education - USA based
- Nature sketching
- Create a sustainable garden
- Live stream Australian zoo
- Live stream options