The Connection Between The Mind And Body

The Connection between the Mind and Body

During the 17th century, Western medicine began seeing the mind and body as two distinct entities; however, many years later, this view began to gradually change. Scientists began to study the mind-body connection and saw how complex this connection really is. We now know that our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning.  In other words, our minds can have an impact on how healthy our bodies are!

pic-HealthyMindBodyWhat are characteristics of good emotional health?

People with good emotional health often times lean towards healthy coping skills during periods of stress.  They feel good about themselves and maintain healthy relationships with others.

Many life changes can have an impact on your emotional health.  These can lead to intense feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety. Some of these events can include:

  • Losing your job
  • Having to deal with the loss of a loved one
  • Divorce/Separation
  • Health issues
  • Financial Instability
  • Adjusting to a new environment

How can your emotions affect your physical well-being?

Your body can react to the way you feel, think and behave. Often times, this is called the “mind-body connection”.  During periods of stress or anxiety, your body may develop physiological changes. For instance, an individual going through a death of a loved one, may develop high blood pressure or digestive problems. The following are some physiological changes that may develop in response to poor emotional health:

  • Chest pain
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Changes in your sleeping pattern
  • Digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Changes in libido
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in weight
  • Chronic pain
  • Other physical symptoms

Why should your doctor know about your emotional health?

It may be foreign to you when it comes to talking to your doctor about your personal life. However, it is important that you are honest with your doctor when feeling stressed, anxious or upset.  He or she will first rule out any other medical problems that may be the cause of your symptoms.  Afterwards, they will aid you in the right direction to seek proper treatment.

What are some ways to improve your emotional well-being?

It is important to first recognize your emotions and better understand why you have having them. Hashing out the causes of stress, sadness or anxiety can help you manage emotional health. The following may be some useful tools on how to take better control of them.

  • Learn ways to express your feelings in healthy ways- If stress, depression and anxiety are causing physical symptoms, suppressing them can make your symptoms worse. Let your friends and family know when something is bothering you. It’s important to note that although your loved ones may help you, some issues may be better addressed with someone outside of your social network- such as a family doctor, therapist or religious advisor.
  • Maintain a balanced life- Try to avoid ruminating on problems at work, school or home that can lead to negative feelings. Although it’s important to talk about your negative feelings, try to focus on the positive aspects of your life as well. Journaling and keeping track of your thoughts and feelings can bring in self-awareness and insight on ways to handle challenging problems. All of us encounter difficult moments in our lives; it’s the way we respond to these challenges that makes a world of difference.
  • Keep your mind and body calm- Engaging in relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can bring your emotions into balance. Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. Practicing mindfulness helps us stay in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
  • Self-care- it is important to take care of your body by exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep. Avoid overeating and using drugs or alcohol. Try to maintain healthy boundaries with others and don’t shy away from asking help when needed.  The PLEASE skills focus on things you do to engage in healthy forms of self-care.
  • treat Physical iLlness
  • Eat healthy
  • Avoid mood-altering drugs
  • Sleep well
  • Exercise
  • Mastery- do something daily that give you a sense of accomplishment

P&L: Take care of your physical health. Take medications as prescribed and see a doctor when needed.

E: Balance Eating- Nourish your body with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you notice your energy level is low, eat small meals throughout the day and avoid skipping breakfast.

A: Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs- Alcohol and drugs can lower resistance to certain negative emotions.

S: Balance Sleep- Learn to plan your schedule so that you get the sleep you need. Both sleeping too much and sleeping too little can have an impact on your energy level, mood and concentration.

E: Get Exercise- Regular exercise stimulates chemicals in your brain called endorphins, which are natural antidepressants. Try to put in least 20 minutes of physical activity in your day.

MASTER: Build MASTERY- Set personal and meaningful goals for yourself. What kinds of things give you a sense of mastery, of being good at something or meeting a challenge?