Harnessing the power of your mind-body connection is how you accomplish your health and wellness goals. The communication between your body and mind is very important for both your physical and mental health.
Medicine is based on the observable, measurable, reported physical symptoms of a patient who needs help, but this physical-chemical-biological view of medicine ignores the importance of the psychological affect that our thoughts can have on our health.
5 Things You Need To Know About Your Mind-Body Connection
We already are well aware of how stress can affect our health. Higher cortisol can lead to poor cardiovascular health, for example. But our mind is what decides if a situation should be perceived as stressful or not.
Managing stress, for those who know about the mind-body connection, is as easy as deciding not to be stressed out by what happened. Without the mind thinking that what happened was stressful, the body can relax and the high blood pressure, etc. disappears.
When we talk about the mind-body connection, we need to know that our emotions are somewhere in between the mind and the body and should not be ignored. We’ve talked about trusting your gut before because your body senses fear before your mind does.
In our waking days, we encounter a stimulus (a person, event, conversation) and our body takes in information from our senses. Our gut (home of the gut instinct) makes a judgment call about the input from the senses and decides if it is safe or unsafe. Then our gut sends the information to the brain where we think about what happened and how we want to respond.
Let’s look at 5 things you need to know about the mind-body connection to harness your total health potential.
1. Understanding how to use the mind-body connection can heal chronic pain
Dr. John Sarno, author of Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection says the mind-body connection is important in the management of chronic back pain. Suppressed emotions, especially anger, can cause back pain. Dr. Sarno recommends being aware of your emotions and seeking to understand them is a good step to healing the emotional pain that you are storing in your body.
Researchers in the journal Holistic Nursing Practice have some advice for health care workers treating patients in pain. ‘Not understanding the patient’s past pain experiences, current emotional state, and personal and cultural meaning of pain can greatly decrease the health care provider’s ability to assess and treat the patient’s chronic pain.’
2. Suppressed emotions cause bodily symptoms
Sigmund Freud said that numbness or pain in the body can be the effect of a ‘subconscious process in which painful emotions were repressed and then discharged physically. He thought that the symptoms were symbolic and represented a discharge of emotional tension. It was his idea that the process of repression was a defense against the painful emotions. ‘
The neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered in the late 1800’s that patients who suffered from sudden limb paralysis could be cured by being hypnotized. This was evidence that the mind could control the body’s experience of sensations.
3. You can improve your mind-body connection with exercises
There are a few simple exercises you can do to help increase the power of your mind-body connection. Here are a few things that you can do to help your mind-body awareness:
Progressive muscle relaxation
Body balance training
Guided imagery meditation
Other things that help include having healthy outlets for emotions, awareness of emotions, and having a spiritual connection.
4. Awareness leads to the ability to control the mind-body connection
The first step to understanding the mind-body connection and its power is to become aware of your body. The feel of each of your muscles and how you can move is part of that knowledge, but being able to sense the messages that you are receiving from your gut and other organs is another.
Begin training yourself to recognize your feelings of hunger. Ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 how hungry you are. Pause to listen to your body as you eat your food. After how many bites can you tell that you are no longer hungry?
5. It may be easier to control the body before controlling the mind
Thoughts often come from patterns in our past. For example, how our parents thought of us may be how we think of our children. Thought patterns are harder to force yourself to change than it is for you to control the movements of your body.
Myclevelandclinic.com says ‘Research has shown that when you imagine an experience, you often have similar mental and physical responses to those you have when the event actually happens. For example, if you recall an upsetting or frightening experience, you may feel your heart beating faster, you may begin to sweat, and your hands may become cold and clammy.’
Most people know that they can control their breathing to reduce feelings of stress. Paying attention to the feeling of your breathing and heart rate can help you to work to slow down your rate of respiration and manage your body’s response. Rehearsing the feeling of calmness can help us use the mind-body connection to eliminate feelings of anxiety.