#Mental Health #Mindfulness

Meditation, nature and exercise for more body awareness and confidence

For this contribution, we at Humanoo put our heads together and came up with 5 practical tips to help you appreciate your body every day and, building on this, to deal with it more consciously. 

In our latest blog contribution we took you along on a journey around our body awareness topic. We’ve learnt that well-developed body awareness automatically leads to more self-confidence – scientists and experts also agree on this.

The reason? When we start to feel and acknowledge our bodies, we are more grateful to them and generally feel better in our own skin. And that impacts on many levels of our lives.

Experts also assume that good body awareness:

  • allows to express your feelings better
  • makes you less susceptible to addictions
  • strengthens your social skills

The end result: In the long term, more self-confidence and with it, more serenity in your life. So, what are you waiting for?

1. Start your day with a morning routine that wakes up your body  

Actually, a morning routine is not so much about what you do, but rather that you start every morning in a similar… let’s say „frame“. This signals to your body and mind: „Hey, let’s get going, get ready!“

This gives your system time to engage with itself within a certain period of time in the morning. The advantage: instead of looking at your phone or checking emails, you are dedicating the first part of the day to the most important person, namely yourself.

How you start your day is an important factor that will shape the entire day.

study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology shows that morning people are more productive during the day than those of us who prefer to be active at night. Lots of well-known personalities swear by a standardised morning routine, including Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who gets up at 4:30 every morning.

The question remains: What should one ideally do during such a morning routine to kickstart the day?

Well, there are lots of ways to gently wake your body and mind very early in the morning and prepare them for the day ahead.

We have compiled a few for you in the following:

  • Yoga exercises for waking up

Yoga has been proven to have a positive effect on both body and mind. Even 15 minutes will have a lasting effect on the rest of your day.

The asanas also strengthen your body awareness and are amazing at letting you come into contact with yourself, so that the Monkey Mind takes a break.

  • Ayurvedic dry brushing

Not everyone is familiar with this, but it’s utterly pleasant and useful too.

These days it’s possible to buy dry brushes in many pharmacies or online, and use them to boost your blood circulation in the morning. You brush or stroke your whole body with a special brush – from bottom to top (from the feet to the face) and from the outside in (towards the heart).

What effect does that have? It improves the supply of blood to the skin and supports the lymphatic flow. Apart from that, you come into contact with every part of your body and develop a connection to the vessel in which your soul is allowed to live.

  • Looking inward by meditating

If you meditate in the morning, you start the day by connecting with your inner self. That is good because feelings raging within you that might otherwise have been ignored, are acknowledged.

It doesn’t need to go on for long at all; even 5 minutes daily can help you to feel better the entire day. You can sit on your couch or you bed, for example, and try to think about nothing at all for a while. Likewise, you can also ask a question in your mind (or aloud) that is close to your heart and that troubles you. Who knows, you might even get an answer 🙂

2. Take a little dancing break in between

Sure… If you’re not used to it, this point can sound funny at first. Should I just get up from the couch and dance? The answer is: Yes, exactly!

Dancing not only reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol, it also promotes the release of our body’s own happiness hormones, oxytocin and endorphin. So: It makes you happier!

When you’re dancing, you’re working on your body’s flexibility, speed and coordination and in this way you’re developing more endurance and body awareness.

Positive young lady in wireless headphones and casual clothes listening to music with pleasure and dancing of sofa in light modern living room

Studies on dancing prove its healing effects: a Parkinson’s study proved that the tremors could be alleviated by dancing. It also promotes the formation of new nerve cells, which reduces the risk of dementia by 20 percent.

But the most important thing is that dancing is a helluva lot of fun. So why not get up in the middle of your home office day, throw on „Hot Stuff“ by Donna Summer and groove along.

If you’re wondering how to start, the answer is simple: put on one of your favourite songs, close the curtains, and just start moving to the music intuitively. The good news is that it doesn’t have to look good.

If you’ve never done it before, it might feel a bit weird in the beginning, but after a while it will really be fun. To make it easier for your to start, we have selected a playlist that will wake the boogie in you and you won’t be able to keep still.

3. Get out into nature

Surrounding ourselves with nature has an immediate and proven effect on our well-being. The study Experiencing Nature and Health has shown that people who are in contact with nature are healthier in general and less likely to develop cancer.

People who regularly exercise in nature have a 20-30% lower mortality risk than people who are not physically active.

You’re probably familiar with this: once again you have your head full and are caught in the downward spiral of the monkey mind. You can’t stand being at home for a moment longer and decide to go for a walk in the park of the forest (best case scenario). Then you relax and the situation doesn’t seem so hopeless anymore.

That is no coincidence. Studies have shown that the sounds of birdsong etc. stimulate a certain function in the brain that is responsible for relaxation. That means we can use the pleasant sounds of the forest, the sea or the wind as a stress valve and to reduce stress. By the way, going barefoot apparently increases this effect.

But the nicest thing about nature is that it makes us understand one thing above all: Our connection to all life. We understand that we are not just lone warriors, but part of a large whole that is miraculously connected. That on its own already makes it easier to breathe in many situations.

4. Build in breaks to perceive your body consciously 

It sounds almost unnecessary to describe this, but unfortunately it’s true that very few of us can consciously perceive our bodies or locate sensations in everyday life.

Already Buddha defined very specific steps for getting inside your body and understanding what is going on there. It’s very easy to integrate those steps into your everyday life – yes, even with a full-time job, family and your daily chores. Doing this exercise regularly will have a positive impact on both your physical and mental well-being and thus help you to enjoy life in the long term.

You can do the following exercise any time (especially when things become too much again):

  • Sit on a chair or lie down and take root deep in your body by paying full attention to your breath.
  • Now, in your mind go through the individual parts of your body — starting at the top, with your head.
  • How does your head feel right now? What do your forehead and ears have to say? Are your eyes strained or relaxed? Are you frowning right now?
  • This exercise is not about evaluating the reason for your forehead being tense, for example. It’s about just consciously observing what is going on in your body and letting go.

It sounds easy, but it does require regular practice. This technique is called „body scanning“. As little as 3-15 minutes per day is sufficient to dive down into and listen to your body.

You can also use this technique to consciously observe your body in stress situations. The trick: With the attention shift, you manoeuvre attention away from the stress towards you – thus creating distance between you and the stress. That on its own is worth its weight in gold, isn’t it?

If, for example, you get angry (and that happens to all of us every now and then, after all – luckily!), ask yourself: Where exactly is this anger located and how does it feel? Is it the colour red rising up to your head or is it your chest that suddenly constricts?

This will help you to get to know your body and its reactions better and, based on this, to develop a healthy body awareness. In the long term it will enable you to be more relaxed in situations and not to fall into old reaction patterns.

5. Integrate exercise into your everyday life

Exercise doesn’t always have to be a pain. If the gym gets on your nerves, you don’t have to go. Rather ask yourself: What have you always wanted to learn? Inline skating, skateboarding, skating, boxing, pole dancing or the tango?

If you enjoy something, it won’t seem like an obligation, but more like a pleasure and some variety to stressful everyday life.

Fortunately, we have a plethora of sporting activities to choose from these days – online or in the studio. So you can either persuade a good friend to accompany you, or just overcome the inner bastard and go on your own.

Hippocrates once said: „If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.“ This hits the nail on the head in the most amazing way, as a lack of exercise can actually lead to a whole lot of diseases:

  • cardiovascular and metabolic diseases
  • psychological ailments like depression
  • chronic pain in the back, neck or hip area and herniated discs

A round on your skateboard here, a table tennis duel with your neighbour there and just running to work in the morning instead of driving. And whoops, there is significantly more exercise in your everyday life and with it more vitality – and all that without too much effort.

Exercise as medicine: when do you start?

At this point it’s important that we emphasise that no matter how great these practical tips may sound, the drive for this usually comes from within. Exercise is natural and something that your body yearns for and certainly asks you for regularly – if only you would listen to it.

If you don’t notice this prompting, or can’t pull yourself together for all the money in the world, it doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or unathletic. Sometimes there are deeper reasons, anchored in the mind, and they’re not always clear to us. In such cases, you shouldn’t force yourself to look beyond your own limits, but try to find out where the lack of motivation comes from and how you can work on it. Because then the motivation to exercise will come as if by itself – we promise!

PS: It is important that we point out that routines take time, which can vary from person to person – on average it takes 21 days before we get used to a new routine. With that we mean: don’t be discouraged if after one week you don’t jump out of bed when it comes to exercise or taking care of the body. Both your body and mind are always sceptical at first when something new happens. But you’ll notice that it will become a lot easier after about 21 days.

We at Humanoo make every effort to offer you a diverse selection of holistic training – for both your physical and mental health. This includes individually tailored training units from the fields of physio, mental training, workouts and nutrition. In this way you foster your own physical and mental health and discover your own strength again – which also stimulates your self-healing powers.

We hope that this post will inspire you to invite more exercise into your life and in this way strengthen your body awareness in the long term. If you have more tips, ideas or feedback, we look forward to hearing from you!

We wish you all the best on your very own journey,
Your Humanoo team

Written by HUMANOO Experts Team

Originally published on 13. August 2020

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