The link between mind and body
Do you know some of the problems that we can have when our body and mind connection is out of sync?
- Stress, anxiety, fear
- Over/under eating so weight gain/loss
- Lack of motivation
- Blood sugar peaks and troughs (potentially leading to diabetes issues)
- Loss of creativity
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Will power, self-discipline, and drive – reduction or complete absence of…
- Sleep disturbances
- Chronic physical conditions which are unexplainable such as:
- breathing problems,
- skin conditions … to name but a few
Our emotions (and mind) can provoke physical problems as well as mental ones. And, our body, particularly when fit and healthy and ACTIVE, can help mend or positively strengthen the signals and connectors from our mind.
The mind-body connection can be a vicious or a virtuous circle! And, guess what, we can choose how we influence this for the better… Don’t we all want to live a happier, healthier, bouncier life?
What you think about yourself, your beliefs about you and what is around you, your emotions, habits and even memories are things which can affect physical and mental health. The connection between mind and emotion, and what happens in your body, form what is called the psycho-emotional root of health and/or disease. This connection is both physical and chemical. Your brain, and its mental state, can positively or negatively affect your biological function. This is because of the chemical bond between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems which are continuously communicating through neurotransmitters and hormones. These neurological pathways link the emotion processing part of the mind with the cardiovascular system, spinal system, digestive system and muscles amongst others… So, emotions, stress, events, activities, can trigger physical symptoms – both negative and positive.
I will give you some examples:
Physical – As the mind has an influence on our endocrine system it can have an impact on diabetes, insulin sensitivity and management within the body.
Psychological – The impact of the brain’s serotonin production (serotonin is known as the feel-good chemical). It is a mood stabilizer and so influences our feelings of stress, anxiety etc, or happiness and positivity.
Other examples – butterflies when you are nervous; feeling physically sick/nauseous when you are scared; your heart pounding overly fast when you are majorly stressed; headaches when you are tense.
Another main problem can be the impact that these can cause on our resilience and immune system. An increase in stress hormones can suppress the immune system and open the body to infections developing, or cancer or other diseases…
Our body feels our emotions. Whether fear, anger, guilt, depression, anxiety, sadness, jealousy, these can all be felt within your body and cause more imbalance and disease. Just think of the example I gave of fear and digestive upset, tension and headaches…
When we develop the habit of reacting or thinking negatively about something, we are creating more and more messages from our mind to our body that increase the imbalance and provoke more and more possibilities of problems and illness.
But it is not a one-way street! When used positively it can help considerably. It can reverse the negative influence. Our body and its activity can improve our emotions, our mindset, our bodily functions, our physical reactions.
When we are physically active not only does it make our body fitter, our muscles better toned, increase our energy levels, but it also sends positive signals to our brain which can then neutralise the negative and improve the positive feedback, boost the balance and overall give our brain some very good and positive communication which produces the ‘good’ chemicals, increases resilience, strengthens the immune system and overall makes us healthier and also happier!
Our brain controls everything…
So, what can we do to optimise this mind body connection?
- We can help ourselves by remaining ‘present’, being aware of our emotions and processing them as they arise, and actively choosing our reaction.
- We can have a range of go-to actions that we know help us feel better. (For me it is walking in nature, communing with pets/animals and chatting to friends who have a sense of humour and can humorously relativise situations).
- We can meditate. A regular meditation practice has enormous benefits. It is particularly effective for helping the body regulate emotional responses and in turn the attendant neurochemical flow that otherwise can send out damaging stress hormones and communications to our body.
- We can practise mindful breathing exercises and pranayama.
- We can practise Yoga or Tai Chi. (Yoga saved me from a lot of health problems, both mental and physical, but I’ll save that story for another day).
- We can listen to relaxations and positively visualise using guided imagery…
For me, the magic pill is yoga, and all that surrounds yoga, supplemented with meditation and the right nutrition.
Feeding our brain well, and exercising well, keeps our body and mind energised and working smoothly so all functions have the opportunity to work at their holistic absolute best.
Happier thoughts lead to essentially a happier biochemistry. A happier, healthier body. Negative thoughts and stress have been shown to seriously degrade the body and the functioning of the brain, because it’s our thoughts and emotions that are continuously reassembling, reorganizing, re-creating our body. Dr John Hagelin
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Do you know some of the problems that we can have when our body and mind connection is out of sync? The mind-body connection can be a vicious or a virtuous circle! And, guess what, we can choose how we influence this for the better… Don’t we all want to live a happier, healthier, bouncier life?