Mind-Body Connection

What it meant by the term mind-body connection?

The mind-body connection is the link between a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors and their physical health. While scientists have long understood that our emotions can affect our bodies, they are just now beginning to understand how our thoughts and emotions influence health and longevity. Modern medicine has largely continued to treat the mind and body as two separate entities. Fortunately this is changing as more research shows how the mind affects the body.

An example of this mind-body connection is how your body responds to stress. Constant worry and stress over jobs, finances, or other problems can cause tense muscles, pain, headaches, and stomach problems. It may also lead to high blood pressure or other serious problems.

Mounting evidence for the role of the mind in disease and healing is leading to a greater acceptance of mind–body medicine. “According to the mind–body or biopsychosocial paradigm, which supersedes the older biomedical model, there is no real division between mind and body because of networks of communication that exist between the brain and neurological, endocrine and immune systems,” said Oakley Ray, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN, USA).  2

Your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act. This is one type of “mind/body connection.” When you are stressed, anxious, or upset, your body reacts in a way that might tell you that something isn’t right. The mind is powerful and a simple demonstration I do with clients, which I call the mind stretch, allows them to experience how the body doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined, from a physiological perspective.  Just like when you imagine one of your favorite foods or a sour lemon, your body will respond as though you are actually truly experiencing it.

The field of psychoneuroimmunology has witnessed an explosion of empirical findings during the last two decades. Research has documented the mechanisms through which stressful emotions alter white blood cell function. Stress diminishes white blood cell response to viral infected cells and to cancer cells. 1

According to Carla Manley, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author, people with mental illnesses can experience a range of physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, pain, headaches, insomnia, and feelings of restlessness.  Stress and day to day burdens can have a direct impact on your body and mind. Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. Unfortunately, stress that’s left unchecked can contribute too many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Chronic stress ultimately also changes the chemicals in the brain which modulate cognition and mood, including serotonin.  Which is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness.

A few examples of the psychological and emotional signs of stress that can be reflected in the body and mind are:

  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Anger, irritability, or restlessness.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Racing thoughts or constant worry.
  • Problems with your memory or concentration.

There are several natural options to help you manage stress to lower the impact it might have on both your mind and body. When the body is under stress or in the fight, flight, flee or freeze mode your adrenal glands go into overdrive secreting cortisol. Remaining in the high stress mode day after day can raise the levels of cortisol.  One natural solution that is getting the attention it deserves to lower not only cortisol but reduce inflammation is turmeric or curcumin.  According to research “It appears to elevate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, while lowering stress hormones, such as cortisol, and is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin also provides protection to the brain.

 Magnesium helps lower cortisol

An increase in cortisol leads to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. A study by Golf et al. noted that cortisol levels decreased when patients were administered supplementary magnesium, further cementing the mineral’s role as a mediator of stress.

6 Proven Ways to Reduce and Recover From Stress

  1. Slow Things Down. Our brains and bodies were designed to face acute stressors and then have a period of recovery to relax, eat, sleep, or procreate before facing the next one.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Get in the green-eat green and enjoy some time in nature to lower your stress.
  4. Get a massage.
  5. Stand upright and smile.
  6. Try to see your stress as a challenge that you will overcome

 Vitamin C helps reduce cortisol

Earlier studies showed that vitamin C abolished secretion of cortisol in animals that had been subjected to repeated stress. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Once it gets into the bloodstream, it is responsible for relaying the news of stress to all parts of the body and mind.

Ashwagandha-another natural solution to lower cortisol

Ashwagandha is best known for its stress-lowering effects. The medicinal herb appears to help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress. Research shows more specifically, daily doses of 125 mg to 5 grams for 1–3 months have shown to lower cortisol levels by 11–32%

 Zinc plays a significant role with respect to the stress response. Proper maintenance of zinc status can help to stabilize serum cortisol levels over time,1 and zinc intake has been shown to temporarily inhibit cortisol secretions. However, in turn, prolonged stress will deplete zinc concentrations in the blood.

Staying hydrated

Staying hydrated, like getting enough sleep, directly affects your body’s cortisol levels and can therefore reduce stress. Often, at the end of a workout or massage session, people are encouraged to remember to drink plenty of water. Researchers have found, for instance, that drinking tea lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And evidence of long-term health benefits is emerging, too: drinking at least 100 millilitres (about half a cup) of green tea a day seems to lower the risk of developing depression and dementia.

Animal studies have also indicated that ginger can influence serotonin levels and may treat, and reduce anxiety as successfully as benzodiazepine drugs

One of the key factors connecting the mind and body is the nervous system.  There are ways to help reset your nervous system.  Breathing deeply, with a slow and steady inhalation to exhalation ratio, signals our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body down. Long, deep breaths can also manage our stress responses to help decrease anxiety, fear, racing thoughts, a rapid heartbeat and shallow chest breathing.

It’s clear that there is a direct connection between the mind and body, and simple changes and additions to your lifestyle can have a positive impact on your mood, health and longevity.  At the Health Studio we offer a wide variety of services that can help relax both your body and mind, and provide you with a mini vacation from your day to day stress where you can head back out into the world calm and rejuvenated.  Contact our office today to schedule your session and give your mind and body the care it deserves.