Can treatment or activity with our bodies, actually help our overall mental and emotional health? Ongoing studies have overwhelmingly said absolutely. There are many activities that help both our bodies and our mental health, and we have decided to touch on three of these activities/therapies. Much of what is discussed in the article, can be applied to help you live a better life. Mobility can often be a challenge for seniors, however many of the topics examined below can be modified to accommodate.
So let’s dive into Bodywork, Meditation, and exercise. How can these three things help? First off, I know what you might be thinking. “Isn’t meditation for guru’s living in a forest or on a mountain somewhere?”
In fact, over 10 million American adults say they meditate frequently, and that number is continuing to climb. Before we dive into meditation however, lets first discuss Bodywork.
There is no doubt a connection between the mind and the body. In healthcare, research has been ongoing to determine how to heal the body not just from physical aliments, but also from emotional or even mental trauma.
There are a variety of Bodywork techniques such as “hypnosis, relaxation, yoga, biofeedback, tai chi, and spirituality.”
Bodywork is a broad term for many different kinds of therapeutic touch, and there are nearly 300 massage and bodywork methods.
So what exactly is Bodywork?
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, bodywork is any therapeutic or personal development technique that involves working with the human body in a form involving manipulative therapy, breath work, or energy medicine. Bodywork techniques also aim to assess or improve posture, promote awareness of the “bodymind connection” rather than the “mind-body connection”, or to manipulate the electromagnetic field alleged to surround the human body and affect health
Bodywork doesn’t have to be painful in order to be effective. Sometimes certain techniques can be intense, however painful bodywork can ultimately be counterproductive.
Some of the emotional benefits of bodywork is the relaxation you have and a real sense of peace and self-awareness. If you have certain tension in your body or other types of dysfunction due to emotional trauma bodywork can be a great help in releasing that and finding inner peace.
In addition it is a great treatment for stress. Stress ultimately causes a variety of issues but often times it results in tightening up of our muscles, and we carry around this tension in our day-to-day lives. Bodywork can actually lower stress hormone levels in our bodies, and help you sleep better at night and have better digestion.
Bodywork can also help with release of endorphins within the brain that ultimately help us feel better and happy.
When done properly, meditation can alter consciousness, help you find awareness, and unlock inner peace.
There are many different types of mediation techniques, however the six most popular types of meditation practice are mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, and transcendental meditation.
In order to do transcendental meditation you generally want to set aside anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.
You want to relax and typically be somewhere where you can sit down in a comfortable position, either a chair, on the floor, or somewhere where you have some back support.
Take a moment to relax your body and try and clear your head, often times deep breath’s are a great way to do this.
During the session you will typically repeat some sort of mantra in your mind. This can be anything, but often times it’s better to have some sort of a sound such, as a Sanskrit sound that you repeat over and over.
The idea behind this is having a mantra will prevent thoughts from entering your mind, which is what you are trying to accomplish so that you can just focus on being in that moment.
Once your session is over you can sit for a few minutes open your eyes and get ready to start your day.
Usually when you do this this can help you have a sense of calm and often times will help you have more energy and feel much more stress-free and focused on the day.
Finally, there are many benefits of exercise as well. Statistically exercise has been proven to help reduce stress anxiety and also risk of stroke or heart attack. Generally when we exercise we feel much more mentally sound and sharp.
Similar to some of the positive effects that body work has, exercise and other physical activity helps produce endorphins in the brain.
Doctors have also found that for people who have anxiety that just five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety affects according to ADAA.org
For seniors who have mobility issues, water aerobics can be a great method of exercise. Many health plans now offer benefits such as Silver Sneakers, or other gym membership programs.
Want to learn more? Below are some great links for more information about exercise and mental health:
Great resource on different types of meditations
The Difference Between Bodywork and Massage
Exercise & How it Reduces Stress and Anxiety
What is Transendental Meditation?