The Connection Between Mind-Body Medicine & Good Health
“Why don’t you just look at the bright side?”
Has anyone ever said this to you when something bad has happened? Admittedly, it can be difficult to remain positive while life is handing you lemons, and advice such as this often comes off as a bit “new age,” or even as pseudoscience. After all, up until the 20th century, “mind over matter” has often been overlooked by Western medicine. But as it turns out, there may a strong correlation between your emotional and your physical health.
In fact, according to this article posted on the National Institute’s of Health MedlinePlus website, “Over the past 20 years, mind-body medicine has provided evidence that psychological factors can play a major role in such illnesses as heart disease, and that mind-body techniques can aid in their treatment. Clinical trials have indicated mind-body therapies to be helpful in managing arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. There is also evidence they can help to improve psychological functioning and quality of life, and may help to ease symptoms of disease.”
So when it comes down to it, what exactly is mind-body medicine, and how can you use it help you lead a happier, healthier life? Let’s take a look.
What is Mind-Body Medicine?
According to the NIH RePORT website, mind-body medicine focuses on 2 specific realms:
- The interactions among the brain, the rest of the body, the mind, and behavior.
- The ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, experiential, and behavioral factors can directly affect health.
In layman’s terms, this basically means that mind-body medicine practitioners are interested in how the normal “mental” ups and downs of our everyday lives affect our physical health, and what methods we can use to reduce the stress that these emotions cause. Without achieving this inner balance, a number of studies have found that it may lead to increased rates of heart disease, a weakened immune system, and premature aging.
In addition to preventing the above health problems, there is also mounting clinical evidence showing that a proper mind-body connection could also be effective for pain management, fighting fatigue, improving sleep, boosting mood and outlook on life. In addition, while mind-body medicine hasn’t uncovered a cure, it has been useful for treating symptoms related to diseases and medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, migraine headaches, menopausal hot flashes, psychological distress, osteoporosis, and many more.
While this is all certainly good news, what are some methods that you can implement in your everyday life to achieve mind-body balance? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Some Simple Mind-Body Techniques You Can Use to Improve Your Health?
“Going Within” Techniques
Techniques that focus on calming your mind and bringing into proper connection with your body.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – Uses a “combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful.” During these 8-week workshops, you’ll be guided by certified professionals to use the above techniques in order to center your mind and your body.
- Relaxation Therapy – Learning how to focus your mind and to induce the relaxation response, which works to counteract your body’s natural stress response.
- Meditation – Many studies have shown that three specific types of meditation can help bring your mind and body into alignment: Zen, Transcendental, and Loving-Kindness/Compassion.
Movement-based techniques include those that not only put your body into motion, but also calm your mind and bring it into focus. These include:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Sequentially contracting and relaxing specific muscles, which creates a sense of awareness and connection with your body.
- Yoga – Derived from the literal meaning of "yoking together," yoga focuses on maintaining specific poses while focusing on breathing.
- Tai Chi – Once a martial art, Tai Chi has now developed into a way of bringing your mind and body into connection.
These are techniques that don’t necessarily fit in with the above, but which have been shown to be beneficial in achieving a mind-body connection.
- Hypnosis – Hypnosis can gently bring individuals into a deep trance, which may help aid the process of connecting mind and body.
- Music & Art Therapy – Uses music and therapeutic techniques to help alleviate stress and a variety of other symptoms.
Would You Like to Know More About the Mind-Body Connection?
If so, be sure to call Advanced Family Medicine today at (425) 453-6838. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, while helping you to live a happier, healthier, and more productive life!