The More You Move, The Better Your Mood
Inspired by the HSE’s catchy mental health tip, the title of this blog is backed by science. Numerous studies demonstrate that physical exercise, even a gentle walk, can brighten your mood and change your perspective. The practice of mindful movement, often based on hatha yoga or tai chi, also has a positive impact on your mental well-being.
Neuroscience confirms that mindful movement can literally re-wire your brain, turning down the volume on negative thought patterns associated with anxiety, depression, pain and addictions. Mindfulness practices build mental and emotional resilience and can re-set our ‘happiness’ baseline so we feel happy more often, regardless of circumstances.
Being mindful means paying deliberate attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. We can develop the mindfulness habit by practising mindful movement, as well as lying, seated or walking meditation. Scientists use the term ‘interoception’ to describe the art of paying attention to subtle fluctuations in bodily sensations, a key component of any mindfulness practice. As well as increasing mental and emotional resilience, interoception also offers physical health benefits, such as:
1. Benefitting gut flora and boosting immunity
2. Strengthening the connective tissue matrix – bone, muscle, joint, tendon, skin
3. Improved circulation
Being happy and calm requires balance in our nervous system. Recent research has revealed that we can achieve this balance through short but frequent practice. The doorway to this calm contentment lies in the enteric nervous system or ‘belly brain’, a vast network of neurons that line the digestive tract. Tight abdominal tissue keeps our fight-or-flight response switched on and can cause digestive symptoms.
Simple techniques such as mindful belly breathing and tummy massage can reverse the stress response and change our mood in minutes. The little-and-often rule applies: practice for 2 minutes several times a day to re-set your happiness baseline and feel profound changes in your health and well-being.
Experience these benefits at Paula’s ‘Moving into Stillness’ workshop Saturday, 4th November. Through the practice of mindful movement, body scanning, seated and walking meditation, we will strengthen the mind-body connection, helping you to feel calm and centred. You will also learn simple 2-minute mindfulness techniques to reset your nervous system when you are feeling stressed or sad.