Mental Health is Physical Health
Mar 07, 2022
I recently interviewed Dr. Jennifer Heisz, author of the new book Move the Body, Heal the Mind. As the title might suggest, movement heals us, the whole of us. There is no separation of our being. We are an interwoven experience and expression of body, mind, emotions, and soul. And as we teach in Original Strength, we were made to move and when we move as we were designed, everything about us just works better.
Perhaps my favorite chapter in Dr Heisz’s book is “Mental Health is Physical Health.” This chapter is full of interesting and hopeful information, appropriate to the times we now live in. We are in an era of mental health struggles; depression, anxiety, and trauma all abound in today’s succotash crisis mixture of inequality, pandemic, political divide, war, and identity. But one thing we all have at our disposal, the one thing we can all do to help heal our minds, soothe our emotions, and calm our anxieties is move.
Dr. Heisz’s research shows that movement helps to heal the mind and it can be more effective than medications that are often prescribed for anxiety and depression. In fact, her research shows that a sedentary lifestyle puts a person at a greater risk to acquiring dementia than their genetics. But when we move often, like we were designed, we can actually help to heal our minds and emotions. Any movement, any exercise, any intensity - it all helps, it all matters. We were clearly designed to move.
But it makes me wonder. Could certain movements be more powerful than others? Or, could certain movements help restore a person’s mind and emotions faster than others? The answer is “Yes.”
One of the fastest ways to introduce peace to out of control emotions is through breathing the way we were designed; to breathe nasally, filling the lungs up from the bottom to the top with our diaphragm. Another way to instantly regulate disregulated emotions is to rock back and forth. It helps to settle the mind and calm the soul. And easier still, would be to perform a midline crossing movement, like a cross-crawl or a hook-up. This is almost instant relief from agitation and worry. Basically, the very movements we were born to make, the ones that build our nervous system and tie our bodies together, are also the movements that soothe our minds and emotions. They can take us from fight or flight, from depressed and hopeless, to rest and digest, to engaged and hope-filled. We were born with these miracle movements, these keys to the kingdom of living a full, thriving life.
What a wonderful design…
Times have been rough lately. Uncertainty is still shouting from the roof tops. But one thing is certain: We were made to move, we were made to endure, we were made to feel amazing, and we were made to thrive - through uncertainty.
None of us were made to be fragile. If you want to build your mental and emotional resilience, do these things every day. It really does help. Breathe. Pick your head up (head nods). Roll out the tension. Rock away the cares. Cross-connect your body and mind. Smile just because you can. Let the wonder of your movement design of being build and restore the whole of you in body, mind, emotion, and soul.
The BodCast Episode with Dr. Heisz will be out on Friday, March 11th. Move the Body, Heal the Mind will also be available on Tuesday, March 8th and can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Move-Body-Heal-Mind-Depression-ebook/dp/B09NQYNZM3/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1646403618&sr=8-1