How to have a healthy mind in a healthy body

 Mens sana incorpore sano……..How to have a healthy mind in a healthy body

Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin phrase from the Roman poet Juvenal who lived around the end of the first and the beginning of second century AD. Right, a long time ago. And obviously he was into food, exercise, and I guess meditation as well to come up with this phrase.

But back to “mens sana in corpora sano“. What does it mean? The phrase is usually translated as

“A healthy mind in a healthy body”

Today the phrase is mostly used to express the theory that physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being. Well, that’s not bad a bad idea and certainly understandable for all of us.

And obviously more of the great poets, philosophers etc. have known this, for example, an earlier, similar saying is attributed to the pre-Socratic philosopher Thales:

“What man is happy? He who has a healthy body, a resourceful mind and a docile nature”

And that message is also very clear, so where is the problem these days? Why do we have so much, I would almost say mental illness, depression, burn-out? Unhappiness and frustration? Why can’t people just live according to the saying and create a happy and healthy body and mind?

Speaking of exercise, these days people either love exercise and overdo it, or hate it, and are couch potatoes. Why is it so hard to find balance?  I am often faced with the extremes in my practice (and I admit, I lived an extreme life myself until my burnout). I am also surprised by the fact that my clients are getting younger and younger needing help to find balance in body and mind. Everybody is super overwhelmed, lost, and frustrated. 

As I said, I lived a life myself with lots of tasks, pressure, the belief that everything has to be perfect, I am not good enough, I do not deserve it, I am bad, I am fat, it’s my fault, and so on. Super unhappy, super frustrated. There was not one single healthy thought in my mind. For sure my body couldn’t be healthy either.  With all these negative beliefs and thoughts, your life becomes pretty miserable. And then you push yourself to exercise and create even more pressure because exercise is more like a punishment or it even has to be a punishment, (of course only subconsciously). It is not enough to run 10 minutes a day, no, you have to train for a marathon, a yoga class has to hurt so much, that you get the feeling you have gotten a great workout. I get the impression, that everything has to hurt these days. We do not allow ourselves to be nice and gentle with “our Self”.

Also the pressure in the job,– if you leave the office before your regular ending time (do not even think about it), you are ashamed, you feel lazy, so it’s better to add up hours and show your “love” for your job (even if you don’t love it). Anyway, your desk is so full, that you could stay there all night and get the feeling you are a bad person for going home at any point. Of course, you come home, frustrated and tired in body and mind, and the only thing that now helps is comfort food. Comfort, because it is food that creates happy hormones and calms the war and frustration inside you. Alcohol and sugar help to relax the body, of course, that’s what you need now to find the balance of yin and yang (stress of the day, relaxation at night). Great, another reason to feel guilty when we finally fall in bed. With some luck we fall asleep immediately just to wake up at 3:30 am with all the thoughts about the work, the to-do-list for the day, making up concepts of when you will find the right partner, when you will be pregnant, maybe a baby could be a solution for the situation you are in right now, or other nonsense going on in life –as there is a lot.

I could go on and on with these scenarios which I get to see daily with clients who would like to get out of this rut. What a pity we cannot ask Juvenal or Thales what they would recommend. Maybe we do not have to ask, maybe we know exactly what we need to do, but we are afraid! Afraid of change, afraid of seeing the truth, afraid of love ….afraid of life obviously.

 

I can only say:

YOU decide what you want to live! Take your life in your hands to have a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Make the right decision, find balance, get over the fear.

Otherwise, it will end badly with “an unhealthy mind in an unhealthy body”  (sorry, my seven years of learning Latin do not allow me to translate this, but who cares?)

Anyway, may I give you some advice to start slowly?

  • sit down every day for 5 min, do nothing, just feel your body
  • have 8 glasses of water every day
  • take time 3x a week for a 15 min walk
  • take a piece of fruit and nuts with you to have a snack in the afternoon
  • read one book a month
  • if you are more the overdoer: sloooow down in everything that you are doing
  • chew  your food 36 times
  • reduce TV and social media

If you are ready for more, here are some thoughts:

  • what would happen if you took more time for yourself?
  • what do you feel guilty for?
  • what do you regret?
  • what keeps you from setting boundaries?
  • what does it mean to you to practice more self-love?

 

If you would like to get more insight how I changed my life, feel free to grab my book on amazon  here

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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