Sunday, 17 August 2014

Healthy mind healthy body

You've probably heard the phrase "healthy mind healthy body" a million and one times. But how often have you stopped to think about what it actually means and what it represents in your daily life? Probably not very often.

The world we live in encourages us to always be busy, to keep up with trends, to go to events, to buy the latest piece of technology, to work hard play hard; and of course these all represent what's remarkable about the 21st century - it's an exciting time to be alive and life is most certainly meant to be full of such experiences. But in amongst all the craziness our minds can often be neglected, resulting in an unhealthy mind, and by extension an unhealthy body.

I'm not about to go all religious on you, but there are three quotes that I like to think about from time to time when I neglect to look after my mind. The first is from Proverbs 14:30 in the Bible and it says: "A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body." The other two are both from the Dalai Lama: "Spend some time alone everyday" and "World peace must develop from inner peace". If we break down these quotes it can give us an insight into what "healthy mind healthy body" actually means.


Taking time out for yoga in the park with my best friend

To me having a healthy mind is a number of different things, but so this post doesn't turn into an essay I'll list the most important five things: knowing that you are in control of your own happiness; having the strength to allow yourself to be happy; knowing that your external circumstances will change but that your mind is strong enough to handle it; being grateful for what you have; and having inner peace. Put like that it seems pretty manageable, but life is never constant - every day is different - and so to have a healthy mind we have to allow ourselves time to process and time to breakaway from the fast-pace of life.

But how does this relate to having a healthy body? Surely there are "healthy" people out there who don't look after their minds but can run a marathon, who eat super healthy food, or can swim across the channel. And this may well be so, but I honestly don't believe that you can have a truly healthy body without having a healthy mind. I'm not claiming to be a psychologist, but surely there is truth in the connection between mind and body. From personal experience, when I am most content in my mind is when I feel most physically strong and truly healthy.

So The Beautifully Healthy Project is here to encourage you to look after your mind as well as your body, and here are my top tips for helping you to do this:

1. Exercise. And after you've exercised take at least 5 minutes to appreciate the energy you've given to your body. Just sit or lie or have a cup of tea and thank yourself for taking the time to do something that's good for you.

2. Be silent and still for 10 minutes (or more) each day. Call it prayer, call it mediation, call it savasana, call it nothing, but just be still, breathe, and think about whatever you need to think about at that specific time. Or think about nothing at all. Just be silent and still.

3. Be grateful. Be grateful for your family, your friends, for the cup of tea someone made you today, for the small things, the big things - but just remember to appreciate what you have in life and not to dwell on what you don't have. Something I've really got into recently is the GratitudeDiary app - each day I try to make a small note of something I'm grateful for that day. You can download it here.

4. Be present. Don't live in the past. Don't live in the future. Live in the moment and appreciate what you have in the moment. Of course it's good to learn from past mistakes and to make future plans, but don't make a habit of letting these thoughts consume you. You are in this moment, right now, so be present.

5. Love. Those people who love the most, and who express love the most, generally come across as the happiest and healthiest people I know. They always have time for others and being around them is genuinely life-giving - to love and to express love is something that is in all of us, just don't be afraid to let that show. Even just a smile to a fellow commuter can make you feel better, and you never know that they might have needed that smile right there and then.

As I said, I am no psychologist, these things are all part of what I'm learning about life on my own journey, but if they can help you in any way at all I will be content. Having a healthy mind is a hugely important part of life, and only when you have a healthy mind can you truly have a fulfilling life and healthy body. Just give yourself some time out from the craziness every now and again and I am certain that you won't regret it.

Love Lucy x

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