Mind and Body – Inextricably Connected


A cartoon landed in my inbox recently, which had me chuckling, writes Eliza Oakley, Manager of the Mindful Employer program.

A doctor asks a patient, Have you experienced any stressful situations recently? to which the patient replies, ‘Yes, my stress is called Life’.

In order to manage the stress that often comes with everyday life, such as meeting work deadlines, running busy households and having active social lives, it’s important to ensure we look after both our body and mind. When we look after our body, we are looking after our mind and vice-versa.

I have five favourite things I do to look after my mind and body:

1. Have a laugh

I find having a good laugh with others is a great way to let go of thoughts, work my abs, and give me a sense of general well-being. Sometimes I laugh long and loud at a movie, even when alone. I find kids and the people around me give me the most laughs. And I do try to find a reason to laugh every day.

2. Slow down the mind

I enjoy colouring books as a way to switch off and focus solely on the activity of choosing what colour to use and staying within the lines. It seems like a form of meditation for me. Some people sit still, close their eyes and focus on their breath while others enjoy sitting in nature to calm the mind. Or it could be an evening spent with no TV, laptop or phone as a way to slow our minds down when they’ve been charged up all day. Slowing down the mind can make things seem less hectic.

3. Keep up with sleep

If I have not had a full night’s sleep, a 15 minute powernap during the day helps me to recharge. Lack of sleep, even if only an hour too little, creeps up on me and by the end of the next day everything seems less enjoyable. Getting the amount of sleep we need each night supports both our mind and body to rejuvenate and function at their best during waking hours.

4. Sensible drinking

I drink water throughout the day, especially hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice. For others, it’s coffee or fancy teas. One thing to avoid is a habit of drinking alcohol every day. Try to keep most days of the week alcohol-free, and keep to safe limits. Maintaining moderate alcohol consumption supports the body and mind to function well – it saves money too.

5. Stay alert with exercise

If feeling foggy or tired in the office, something as simple as stepping outside and going for a brisk 10 minute walk can be invigorating and help move sluggishness. Rather than staying ‘plugged in’, I leave the mobile behind and take some time to enjoy my immediate surroundings.

Mixing it up supports motivation: walking, swimming, jogging, yoga, bike riding - with friends, alone, before work, at lunchtime or after work.

We all have different ways to look our own mind and body. The aim is to include things in our regular daily routines, not just as an afterthought.

Sarah Earnshaw