Welcome to the challenge!
I ran this challenge in my Facebook group, and it was a such a huge success, I wanted to spread the love.
Each day, there are 3 lessons. You can choose one challenge from each of the lessons to create your own wellbeing journey, OR, if you're really daring, you can attempt to complete all 21 challenges!
Check out Day 1 below, then click through to continue the remaining days of the challenge.
Day 1 - Move
Challenge #1: Move
Did you know that our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are?
It’s true! Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning. And, what we do with our physical body (what we eat, how much we exercise, even our posture) can impact our mental state (again positively or negatively).
Have you ever noticed how stress, anxiety, depression or common illnesses impact how you feel in your body?
For me, stress and anxiety have a huge impact on my digestive system. I can’t eat, and it often leads to an IBS flare-up.
How about the opposite? Do you recognize the connection from your physical body to your mood?
I feel happier and have more energy when I sleep well and drink a lot of water. Certain foods, like cheese, release endorphins that keep our mood elevated. And we all know that a glass of wine at the end of the day can relieve stress and help us relax.
Today’s challenge is to do something to move your body. Take a walk, go to the gym, play with your kids. Anything to get your body moving. Then notice how it affects your mood.
How will you move your body today?
Mindful eating is one way we can pay attention to our mind-body connection.
Mindful Eating is allowing ourselves to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting our own inner wisdom.
We can actually change our relationship with food by:
- using all our senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to us and nourishing to our body
- acknowledging our responses to food (likes, dislikes) without judgment
- becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide our decisions to begin and end eating
According to the Center for Mindful Eating, our relationship to food is a central one that reflects our attitudes toward our environment and ourselves. As a practice, mindful eating can bring us awareness of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, and insight into the roots of health and contentment.
Mindful eating involves:
- paying attention to how food smells, tastes and feels as you eat it
- choosing when and where to eat (at the table, in your favorite chair)
- listening to your body to determine what to eat from meal to meal
- enjoying the preparation of meals, instead of looking at it as a chore
- showing gratitude for food, the food process, and the origin of the food itself
This was an eye-opener for me. When I worked in the corporate world, I used to eat lunch by myself, at my desk, every day. I would multitask while eating, and most days, I barely had enough time to eat a full meal.
Now that I work from home, I make sure I set aside plenty of time to eat lunch and take a break. Some days, I even have time to prepare my own lunch if we don’t have leftovers.
I also rekindled my love of cooking. After being diagnosed with IBS and following a VERY restrictive (and often frustrating) low-FODMAP diet, cooking began to be scientific and rote.
After hearing about mindful eating, I’ve learned to enjoy the process, choose foods that make my body feel good, and discover new, delicious recipes that are fun to prepare.
How could you incorporate mindful eating into your meal routine?
Another way we can strengthen our mind-body connection is through mindful movement exercises like yoga, tai chi and qigong.
You’re probably familiar with yoga and tai chi, so I’m going to spend a little time talking about my favorite: qigong (pronounced chi-gong).
Qigong is a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the body moves through space.
Like tai chi, it focuses on integrating breathing and intent with subtle movement. But it’s much easier to learn!
It originated in China over 3000 years ago and boasts proven health benefits including:
- lowering blood pressure
- strengthening and toning muscles
- building our immune system
- relieving stress and anxiety
- improving focus and concentration
- improving skin elasticity
Y’all, this is the fountain of youth! I’m convinced it’s the reason my husband, who just turned 40, looks like he’s 25. He’s been practicing and teaching qigong and tai chi for 20 years.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait 20 years to experience the same benefits. Minor health improvements can be felt the first time you practice qigong!
Check out this video, follow along, then notice any physical or mental sensations you experience during your practice.