In his post, “You Want Mental Health? Get Into the Body,” Elisha Goldstein tells us to pay better attention to our legs and knees, our stomachs and arms, in order to help our mental health. He writes:
Just like we feel good when we’re loved, part of that includes loving our bodies. It can give us a tremendous mental boost if we are mindful of our bodies and recognizing not only the wonder that it functions the way it does, but also intentionally having gratitude for all the parts that work to facilitate that functionality.
I have much more gratitude today than I did 10 years ago. Why? This past winter, when every organ seemed to be inflicted with some illness, I realized that I take my good health for granted. I remembered my dad saying, “Without your health, you have nothing.”
Now I’m paying better attention to my aches and listening to what they are saying, because sometimes if I can catch an illness in its birth, I don’t have to go through four doctors to find out what is going on.
Dr. Golstein gives us this exercise:
See if you can notice how the knees or any joints in the bodies are often the unsung heroes allowing us to bend and move. Or even the hands, allowing us to pick up, grab, or write. Feel into the stomach, lungs, and heart, the autonomic pieces that allow for digestion, ventilation, and circulation without so much an acknowledgment or thank you most of the time.
Try and come down from the busy mind and bring mindfulness to this body, becoming aware of it and treating it well.
If you are already doing good things for it like exercise, eating healthy, getting a massage, or doing yoga, see if you can have the mindful awareness that you are loving your body in those moments, that you are really treating it well. Having this awareness makes the experience that much more meaningful and I believe supports your mental health and emotional well-being. It also reinforces the desire to do it more.