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Close your eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Check-in with yourself: how are you feeling mentally? And emotionally? What about your body? See if you can notice any mental or physical tension or sensations.
When you’re ready, open your eyes. You might notice you feel different after that brief exercise. Perhaps you feel more relaxed or energized. If so, you’ve experienced the mind-body-soul connection.
So let’s take a look at what it really means, why it matters, and how to strengthen your mind, body, and soul connection in 13 steps.
The mind, body, and soul connection
If you’ve ever been so stressed it made you physically sick or witnessed such beauty it felt like a spiritual experience, you’ve experienced a mind-body-soul connection.
A holistic approach to well-being involves bringing these three aspects of the self into balance to create harmony and health.
Mind, body, and soul meaning
The phrase “mind, body, and soul” refers to the connection and relationship between these three aspects of yourself.
The mind, body, and soul conception is a way of understanding ourselves as "whole people." A Whole Person™ has personal and professional lives that interconnect — mental, physical, and spiritual components not only influence both spheres but also interact with each other.
Mind. Your mind is your thinking mind (both conscious and unconscious) that is responsible for your beliefs, thoughts, and actions.
Body. Your body is the physical aspect of yourself that carries you through life and allows you to experience the world through your five senses.
Soul. Your soul or spirit is that intangible part of you that you might refer to as your essence. If you belong to a particular faith, it may be easy for you to connect with the concept of your soul. If you are secular, you might find it outside of religions in actions such as spending time with yourself in nature, doing yoga, or meditating.
The distinction between mind, body, and soul isn't a strict one. For example, where do emotions sit? We feel them in the body, mind, and soul. From a scientific perspective, we know how deeply connected these three dimensions are — that's kind of the point. You can think of them as being connected by the nervous system, or understand the nervous system to be part of the mind.
There is research to support this concept of the mind-body-soul connection. Karen Jensen, author of “Three Brains: How the Heart, Brain, and Gut Influence Mental Identity,” suggests we have three brains that interact with one another to influence our physical and mental health.
The three brains represent the three aspects of the self. The brain is the mind, the gut is the body, and the heart is the soul. These three “control centers” are connected via the nervous system, and their interaction results in our overall state of being.
To understand them better, let’s take a look at each in more detail.
The mind corresponds to the brain inside your skull. Having a healthy mind gives you clarity, while mental imbalance or illness can cause physical sickness in the body.
Our mind is responsible for our:
The body corresponds to the gut-brain connection. A healthy body gives you strength, vitality, and energy. It also makes you more able to face life’s challenges. Physical health also strongly influences mood and mental and emotional well-being, as well as your mental fitness.
The soul corresponds to the heart-brain connection. A healthy soul helps you experience positive emotions such as:
- Joy and gratitude
- Emotional resilience
- Kindness and compassion toward others
- A sense of purpose and being connected to something greater than yourself
How to strengthen your mind, body, and soul in 13 steps
Let’s look at thirteen steps you can take to strengthen your mind, body, and soul.
First, let’s look at things you can do to specifically strengthen your mind.
There are many different ways to meditate. If you’re new to meditation, you might want to start with guided meditations.
A simple meditation technique you can try on your own is to sit with your eyes closed and observe your breath.
But you can also meditate through movement, such as dancing, or through activities such as drawing. For example, some people find painting mandalas an effective way to meditate.
2. Learn something new
You’re never too old to take up a new skill or hobby. Learning a new skill, such as a language or instrument, can help maintain your mental fitness at any age.
Just like a muscle, your brain needs exercise in order to stay fit. Learning helps to create and strengthen new neural connections that keep your brain active and healthy.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for your mind, body, and soul. The quality and quantity of your sleep can affect everything from your mood to your metabolism. And according to research, lack of sleep in middle age is linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later on.
The right amount of sleep depends on the person, but the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
4. Find your passion
Making time for the things you enjoy can help to regulate your mood and emotions. This contributes to greater energy, vitality, and overall health and well-being.
Finding your passion might mean making time for a hobby that lights you up. Or, you may want to change your career in order to pursue your passion professionally.
5. Take time off
In our always-on culture, burnout is often considered a badge of honor. But rest, relaxation, and allowing yourself to have fun and play can help you stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
Try to stick to your working hours and avoid working during weekends or holidays. Prioritize spending time with loved ones as.
6. Have a growth mindset
Now, let’s look at ways you can strengthen your body.
Not only is exercise essential for a healthy body, but it also elevates your mood, relieves stress, and helps maintain your brain health.
Many people struggle to stick with an exercise regimen because they try to force themselves to do things they don’t enjoy. Don’t pay for a membership you never use if you don’t like going to the gym.
Instead, look for activities that bring you joy. It might be joining a local volleyball team or taking up cycling or martial arts.
You can also find ways to be more active in your daily life, such as walking instead of driving or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
8. Eat a balanced diet
It may be a cliche, but you really are what you eat. The food you put in your body becomes your cells, and what you eat even influences your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
Some ways you can eat healthier include:
- Eat a wide range of vegetables and fruits
- Limit your consumption of meat, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar
- Drink at least two liters of water per day
9. Practice yoga
Yoga may be a physical practice, but it has profound effects on the mind and soul, too. It can help relieve emotional tension stored in the muscles and fibers of the body. At the same time, it calms the mind by bringing your attention to the present moment.
You might also want to consider incorporating breathwork into your yoga practice. Breathing techniques have many benefits, including reducing stress, increasing energy, and elevating mood and concentration.
Training yourself to breathe deeply throughout the day can also help you manage your emotions more effectively.
Finally, let’s look at some things you can do to strengthen your soul.
10. Practice gratitude
Gratitude trains your brain to let go of negative thoughts and look for things to be grateful for instead. This results in improved mood and overall mind-body-soul well-being.
11. Spend time in nature
A growing body of research known as ecopsychology shows that spending time in nature has benefits for the body, mind, and soul.
One study found that the minimum requirement needed to gain the benefits of spending time in nature is two hours per week.
12. Connect with something greater than yourself
Research shows that helping others is good for you, so look for ways to give back.
If you belong to a faith, this may be through your religious community. If you’re secular, you might find a greater sense of meaning and purpose through activism or volunteering.
13. Be compassionate to yourself and others
Self-compassion is more useful than self-confidence when it comes to accepting and living with your mistakes and failures.
Cultivating self-compassion also helps you develop greater compassion for others, leading to a loving and more peaceful life.
Finding balance in mind, body, and soul
The mind-body-soul connection is a shortcut to the happiest, healthiest, most vibrant version of you. Having a healthy mind, body, and soul can change the way you feel and impact the way you show up every day. Over time, this creates a ripple effect throughout your life.
Making the type of lifestyle changes required to find balance in mind, body, and soul is often easier with the support and accountability of a coach. Discover how BetterUp’s expert coaches can help you make changes that last.
Sr. Insights Manager