Mental Health

Finding a better mind-body connection

Jul 31, 2023 | 5 minute read
Written by Guest Contributor

The mind and the body are not two separate entities, although they are often treated that way. Physical and mental health are closely intertwined, and people are increasingly seeing that connection. During my journey of losing 170 pounds, I saw firsthand the power of this mind-body connection. It was a real “a-ha moment.” 

Connecting physical fitness and mental health

I began my weight loss journey because I saw myself going down an unsustainable path. By my third year in college, I had gone from 200 pounds to 370 pounds, and my body felt completely different than what I was used to. In addition to the weight gain, I was going on 10 years of living with depression. Even as my life was being seriously impacted by both of these issues, I was not making a connection between the two, a common story for many people.  

My weight loss was motivated by an unfortunate discovery. During a routine visit with my doctor, I found out that my blood pressure was massively high. My doctor told me that I needed to start losing weight, or I’d likely face some major health issues in the near future. This was not something that I wanted to hear as a 21-year-old in college, but it was something I needed to address. 

Fear initially motivated me to lose weight, and the journey was not easy, nor was it a straight line. I tried fad diets, embraced quick fixes, and sought out whatever supplements could help me get the weight off fast. When none of these worked, I had to have a heart-to-heart with myself. I came to the realization that this was going to be the most challenging journey I’d ever had to face. 

An “a-ha” moment around the mind-body connection

During this time, I was also in counseling after my depression led me to my final suicide attempt. With counseling, I was starting to find a sense of healing and was getting on the road to recovery with my mental and emotional health. By working on both my physical and mental health, the seeds of my understanding of the mind-body connection had already been planted, but it wasn’t until a particularly difficult day at the gym that they really took root.

As I walked into the gym that day, an older gentleman greeted me and asked how I was doing. When I responded that I really wasn’t feeling it, his response to me was simple – your mind knows what your body needs and vice versa.  

Remember that “a-ha moment” I mentioned? This was it. That advice proved to be a revelation that stuck with me. I started to pay attention to my mood as I came into the gym, and my mood as I left. I also started doing research on what medical professionals call ‘overlapping conditions.’ That led me to find a host of studies that talk about the greater likelihood of individuals struggling with their mental health as they struggle with certain physical health conditions, such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and other physical ailments.  

Embracing the connection between mental and physical health

As my work has expanded in the realm of mental health, I’ve seen how these overlapping conditions show up among the people that I serve. More importantly, I’ve had a chance to see the healing that is made possible when people understand and embrace the connection between their physical and mental health. 

I encourage everyone to take a deeper look at their mind-body connection and take some action steps towards caring for both. This could mean scheduling your yearly visit with your primary care provider if you’ve been putting it off. Or you could set smaller personal goals like getting outside for a 15-minute walk every day.  

As people become more comfortable with prioritizing their mental health through therapy, it’s important to also address our physical health needs that may impact mental health. Understanding and acting on this connection can be scary, but beyond that fear lies the opportunity to discover how capable we are of reversing emerging issues within our body and better caring for our mental health in the process. I believe acknowledging and embracing this connection between mind and body can be the jumpstart many of us need to create a healthy and balanced life for ourselves! 

To hear more from Richard, tune into our “Mental Health Minute” series on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, where new episodes drop every Friday afternoon.

About Richard Taylor Jr
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Richard Taylor Jr. has created an impact over the past decade as a powerful leader and voice of impact for men, women, and children around the world. Taylor is the Founder of TaylorMade Empowerment, a self-published author of seven books, Board of Directors member for NAMI Eastside and host of a global podcast. He is also a highly sought-after speaker who brings an empowering message of victory by creating a unique way to make the conversation of mental health easier and digestible for all of his audiences. 

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor

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