Staying in Motion
When one is accessing what is most important to reaching and maintaining a state of mental well-being, sometimes we forget the connection between the mind and body. A great part of our brain function, much of which is sub-conscious, is directed towards and in constant communication with our body and the many functions they perform in conjunction. Breathing, heartbeat and rhythm, and even our sleep state (which is our next and most simple approach) are a few examples.
Working the physical body into a healthy state not only raises esteem in oneself but also lessens the burden of our brain and its many subconscious functions. Simply walking outside in nature as often as possible, under the Sun. Evening strolls after work is also quite pleasant. Nature's membership is free.
In my forty-two years, I can't recall anyone I've ever known saying to me "I get the perfect amount of sleep". Typically, what I normally hear are people around me agonizing about how little sleep they were able to glean the night before, I see exhaustion all around and I would be remiss not to mention my propensity for lacking proper sleep and its effect on my daily struggle of perpetual exhaustion.
Just as the body can help regulate the mind, the mind also regulates the body. Balance is key, as in all things. During sleep states our mind is processing, our brain is rewiring and being optimized for the next wake cycle, and the vast amounts of information that will be processed all over again. As the mind optimizes, the body rebuilds and in conjunction with the mind, it allocates and distributes hormones and overall limbic function. Sleep and being well-rested also promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Get your beauty sleep, it's proverbial money in the bank.
Now that we've connected the mind to the body, it's time to consider our connection to each other and the importance it has on our overall mental well-being. I favor the hermit side of the social spectrum; you'll often hear of my love of solitude. You will rarely hear me talk of the equally valid feelings of depression and self-doubt that come with living with little human interaction and even less human contact.
In a May 8th, 2014, article out of Stanford University, written by Dr. Emma Seppala, she points to a 1988 landmark study that showed a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure combined. Arguably the hardest on our list, especially in a day and age of fear of lockdowns and pandemics, but I can attest to the life-changing effects of finding your soul tribe. Carl Jung says loneliness isn't so much an absence of people around you, but an absence of anyone to listen to what's most important to oneself.
Nature has given humanity all that it needs to flourish. However, life has a way of complicating the mind, so we look for complicated and often far too expensive solutions. Mental well-being is a balance between what is without and what is within. Tools are all around us and the actualization is within. Gentle balance.