Mind-Body

Awareness of the mind-body connection can improve your health and quality of life. Through the mind-body health connection, our thoughts and emotions can play a central role in all aspects of our health. Research shows that by taking care of our psychological well-being we can sometimes prevent medical illness and often speed our recovery when we do get sick.

The mind and body are closely linked, and their relationship can exert a positive influence on health and quality of life. Attitudes, beliefs and emotional states ranging from love and compassion to fear and anger can trigger chain reactions that affect blood chemistry, heart rate and the activity of every cell and organ in the body — from the stomach and digestive tract to the immune system. Emotions can also affect your body’s reaction to stresses and strains, which can cause head and backaches and other physical problems.

The mind-body connection treats the whole person by addressing the stresses we face, particularly when illness occurs. Your health care providers can help you understand the nature and treatment of your illness and create a plan to help maximize your overall well-being.

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Awareness of the mind-body connection may be helpful in:

  • Reducing missed time from work
  • Speeding recovery from illness
  • Lessening pain and discomfort
  • Shortening hospital stays
  • Enabling patients and families to better cope with illness
  • Increasing mental alertness and activity

We can help ourselves stay healthy by paying attention to our emotional and mental states — including our worries, outlook and moods. For more information on the Mind-Body Connection and How to Use it to Improve Your Health, click here.

Tips

Relax at the end of your day with a 15-minute guided meditation. Keep guided meditations or podcasts on your phone or tablet for easy access. Guided meditations are available through:

Start your day with a basic Sun Salutation yoga sequence: http://hvrd.me/YFc2b (If you’re a beginner, try the modifications listed below and shown in this video: (http://hvrd.me/YFbW3)

Check in with your breath for 10 to 15 minutes for a midday break. Close your eyes and notice where you store stress in your body. As your breath becomes slower and smoother, imagine sending your breath to that area on your inhalation. Imagine a knot loosening as you exhale. Repeat this cycle with each inhalation and exhalation. Do a body scan for 10 to 15 minutes. Find a comfortable seat or lie down. Close your eyes and breathe more deeply and slowly. First, focus your attention on your feet. Notice any tension, pain, or stress.

Take deep, slow breaths as you focus your awareness on that area of your body. As if you are scanning your body with light, move your attention slowly upward. Notice how each section of your body feels as you continue to breathe slowly: your shins and knees, thighs and hips, lower back and abdomen, chest and upper back, neck and shoulders, and finally your head.

Try a variety of approaches to find what sticks. Daily practice works best, but if you have a busy schedule, aim to practice at least three or four times a week. And don’t give up if you feel like it’s not working right away. These techniques are like any other skill or workout — the more you do it, the stronger you will get.

 

Resources

Family Doctor

Breathing for Life