What Is The Mind-Body Connection?
By Julia Thomas
Updated December 11, 2018
Reviewer Patricia Corlew , LMFT, LPC,
The mind-body connection means that our thinking, outlook, viewpoints, and mindset can have a constructive or destructive impact on our biological functioning. The theory is that if we think and feel positive, upbeat, kind thoughts, our body will function like a well-oiled machine; conversely, if we feel downtrodden and think negative thoughts, this will invite pain and disease into our body.
There is no research needed to know that you feel better when you are in a good mood than when you are in a bad mood. This isn't to say that negative thoughts will cause disease. Many diseases have a genetic link that cannot be ignored. However, how we heal or get through an illness can be influenced by our thinking, outlook, viewpoints, and mindset. Let's see what we can do for ourselves to keep a good balance in the mind-body connection so that we can be our healthiest selves.
We are what we think, eat, drink, say and breathe so developing and applying mindfulness to all these aspects of life can help us to maintain joyful mind-body connections. Source: www.builtlean.com
Take Time for Yourself
Take time for self-care. This does not mean be selfish. It means to do something for yourself each day that has a positive effect on your mind, body, and soul. Choose something that keeps you present in the moment and is a mind-quieting activity. It is not selfish, but giving yourself the care you need in order to help others. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
*take a hot bath
*listen to music
*get a massage
*go for a walk
Food needs to nourish the body. Meals need to be balanced to provide the proper nutrition. One way to make sure that you are eating a balanced meal is to include the 6 Ayurvedic tastes in each meal: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent). Most American meals focus on sweet salty and sour, thus missing out on the balancing effects of pungent, bitter and astringent. It is important to include these additional 3 tastes because they have been knowing to be anti-inflammatory and increase metabolism. Of course, the fresher the food, the better with a variety of proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Source: http://www.chopra.com
*Sweet: builds tissues, calms nerves; fruits, grains, natural sugars, milk
*Sour: cleanses tissues, increase absorption of minerals; sour fruits, yogurt, fermented foods
*Salty: improves taste of food, lubricates tissues, stimulates digestion; natural salts, sea vegetables
*Bitter: detoxifies and lightens tissues; dark leafy greens, herbs, spices
*Pungent: stimulates digestion and metabolism; chili peppers, garlic, herbs, spices
*Astringent: absorbs water, tightens tissues, dries fats; legumes, raw fruits, and vegetables, herbs
You may have heard that a glass of wine each day can help with heart health. This may or may not be true. However, a bottle of wine each day will not help anyone's heart or head. Having an occasional alcoholic drink will not do harm to your mind-body connection. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can have an adverse effect on our physical body including weight gain, liver deterioration, headaches, and stomach issues. When in an inebriated state, our thoughts and worries may be exacerbated, or memory may become foggy.
Follow an Exercise Routine
Moving your body is an important way to support the mind-body connection. Getting the blood flowing and the heart pumping is a great way to keep your mind focused on something besides worry or negative thoughts. Endorphins, known as natural painkillers, are released in the body. Physical activity generates biological transformations that amplify the brain's capability to gain knowledge, adjust and execute other cognitive tasks.
When you get into an exercise routine, you become more fit and healthy so that you can focus on the positive, successes you have in your life. When you schedule regular workouts, your mind will be focused on the exercises you are doing instead of any negative worries or thoughts. Your immune system will be strengthened, and your body and mind will feel better.
Types of exercises for your routine:
Finding a Workout Location:
*check social media for local gyms and studios
*check group coupon sites for low price classes
*make sure that you find a connection with the gym or studio before you sign up for a long-term commitment
*choose a gym/studio that you enjoy going to, or you won't be motivated to go to workout
*try out classes at different gyms and studios; you may like one type of class at one place and another type of class at another place
You are Getting Sleepy
You should not be getting sleepy in the middle of the day. You should always aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Your body rests and repairs during sleep, so it is of vital importance to get consistent, restful sleep. "Over time, inadequate sleep disrupts the body's innate balance, weakens our immune system, contributes to weight gain and depression, and speeds up the aging process" (www.chopra.com). Just realizing that those are things that can occur due to a lack of sleep will make most people want to find ways to get a good night's sleep.
If you have ever had a bad night's sleep and then feel cranky, impatient, and stressed the next day, you have had a small glimpse into how important it is to have a good night's sleep. To have a restful night's sleep means that you fall asleep shortly after you turn out the light and you remain asleep throughout the night.
You know that you have had a restful night of sleep when you wake up alert and energized.
Tips for Restful Sleep:
*do not use a medical sleep aid or alcohol to fall asleep
*go to bed and awaken at the same time each day
*do not sleep more than an hour later on weekends/days off
*no technological devices in bed
*keep room dark and quiet
*comfortable temperature setting
*comfortable bed and pillow
Let It Go
We may hold onto many types of emotional pain in our mind and body. We may not even realize that we are holding this pain within us. Any type of emotional trauma that has affected us has taken a toll on our mind or body in some way. If you are not able to enter into a bond with another person or feel alone or sad about situations you have been in, you are probably holding onto some emotional pain. Letting go of this pain will result in an immense positive catharsis.
Ways to Let Go of Emotional Pain:
Develop Interpersonal Relationships
Having others to talk to, trust, rely on and interact with is one of the most important parts of being a human being. You don't have to have a huge group of friends, but several close, personal friends, and a partner can lead to a happier, healthier life. Being able to talk to someone who has gone through similar experiences and having people you can do things with helps keep your mind off your worries and the mind-body connection strong.
Ways to Increase your Network of Friends:
*join meet-up groups
*join parenting groups
*join a book club
*join a sports team
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Actually, it is! Laughter diminishes the creation of stress hormones in the body and improves the immune system. Who doesn't love to laugh? Making it a part of your daily routine needs to be a priority.
More Laughter in Your Life:
*subscribe to comedy podcasts or YouTube videos
*watch a favorite sitcom rerun every day
*get a joke of the day calendar
*like humorous pages on Facebook
*spend time with people who make you smile and laugh
Great Books About The Mind-Body Connection
*Come to Your Senses: Demystifying the Mind-Body Connection: Stanley Block
*Beyond Pain: Making the Mind-Body Connection: Angela Mailis-Gagnon
*The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain: John E. Sarno, MD
*The Mind Connection: How the Thoughts You Choose to Affect Your Mood, Behavior, and Decisions: Joyce Meyer
*The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Health, Longevity, and Success: Mario Martinez, PsyD
*Magical Mind, Magical Body: Mastering the Mind/Body Connection for Perfect Health and Total Well-Being: Deepak Chopra
If you feel that you need additional resources to assist you with the above techniques, you should contact a trained professional to assist you. Going to BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com/start/) can be your first step to getting the help you need.