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Discover the Power of Mindful Movement for Your Mind, Body, and Mood

Getting out of our heads and into our bodies and daily experiences can be difficult. Making time for ourselves can feel like just one more thing to do. Between work, school, caring for loved ones, and social interaction, fitting in time to focus on our physical and mental health often falls to the bottom of our priority list. 

Amidst the chaos of our lives, there's a simple yet powerful way to care for ourselves and our mental health. You might already be doing it, perhaps without even realizing: moving. 

  • Go for a short walk outside. Step out, walk for ten minutes, turn around, and return. You have 20 minutes of activity and some fresh air!

  • Do some evening stretches before bed.

  • Take the dog out for a walk. Your dog will love the time with you, and you both benefit!

  • Dance around the kitchen while cooking dinner.

  • Go for a bike ride.

Make the Movement Mindful

Let's delve into the concept of mindful movement.  It's about being fully present with your body in motion, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. This means focusing on how your body moves, rather than the end result.

Mindful movement engages your senses, thoughts, and feelings. While you are moving, notice how your body feels. How do your muscles feel? How do your joints feel? Do you feel a change in your breathing? Then, focus further inward and notice your thoughts and feelings. Do any emotions come up? What are you thinking about? Take stock of how you feel physically and mentally, and note what kind of movement makes you feel good. 

According to Linda Graham, MFT, mindful movement offers a wealth of personal benefits. It can boost your confidence, enhance your mood, increase your resiliency, and heighten your bodily awareness. It can also energize your body, producing serotonin and releasing endorphins, which can make you feel happier and less stressed. 

In a broader sense, incorporating mindful movement can also help us to:

mindful movement ideas

  • Rid our bodies of old physical patterns from stress or trauma, such as holding your shoulders up closer to your ears as if waiting for something to happen.

  • Help work out old patterns in the fascia and muscles from physical injury or stress patterns in response to negative emotions, experiences, or traumas.

  • If that happens, we should be fully present in the moment instead of being lost in our thoughts or dissociating. We can begin to bring together our mind and body again. 

  • Be more present in our day-to-day life by bringing ourselves jointly into our mind and body, enabling us to be more present with people, our space, animals, and nature.

  • Regulate our mood with the release and interaction of endorphins or neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine.

Remember that any mindfulness with your movement is good for your body, mind, feelings,

thoughts, and mood. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't need to work towards the goal of fitting into a pair of jeans you loved last year. It can look silly and clumsy with only the goal of feeling good. It may initially feel creaky, or you may feel a bit like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, but your body tissues will soften, and it will become easier. You may initially experience some negative emotions or feelings; let your body and mind work it out slowly, and don't overdo it. Engage with professionals to support you if you need to, such as your doctor, a therapist, a yoga instructor, etc. Find the expert that works for you.

Take a few minutes or an hour, whatever time you have, to better the connection between your mind and body without putting pressure on yourself. Move your body in a way that feels good to you. Ground your mind, slow your breathing, and bring your attention back to the present. It's surprising how much better you will feel afterward! Think of it as giving yourself the space to relax and unwind from the day, checking in with #1. We could all use a little more "me time," and mindful movement is a great place to start. 

What will you do to add mindful movement?

  • Dance!

  • Garden

  • Grab a pal and go for a walk!

  • Ride my bike with friends

You can vote for more than one answer.


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