5 min read
The Importance of the Mind Body Connection & How to Develop It
By: OHI on May 4, 2023 5:00:00 AM
There is a complex interrelationship between your mind and your body. The mind-body connection defines the connection between your mental health and your physical health. That means your behaviors, outlook, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and thoughts can directly affect your body’s physiological function. Conversely, how you care for your physical body — what you eat, how much you exercise, how well you sleep — can impact your mental state. Quite simply, your thoughts have a direct impact on your physical health, and the biology and chemistry of your body has a direct impact your mood and emotions. A great example of the mind-body connection is when you feel nervous your body starts to sweat and your heart races. Your thoughts had a direct impact on your physical state.
Scientists believe that the mind-body connection is a result of thousands of years of evolution. When our ancestors detected a threat, the mind-body connection triggered the physical responses that kept them alive. For example, when threatened by a predator, the mind triggered the “fight or flight” response, flooding the body with hormones and adrenaline to survive the physical threat.
Here's Why the Mind-Body Connection is Important
There are three key reasons why the study of the mind-body connection is so important:
- The mind-body connection plays an essential role in your overall wellness. Only by understanding how your thoughts and emotions impact your health are you able to heal your body with your mind to maintain the best and most healthy version of you.
- The mind-body connection teaches you how to express your emotions in a healthy way, acknowledging and releasing emotions before they can negatively impact the body’s physical health. For example, if you don’t learn how to manage chronic stress, it can physically manifest as headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues. Releasing negative emotions allows the mind to heal the body.
- The mind-body connection supports mindful living. As you become more aware of your mental state, you can learn how to change your thinking to head off negative health effects.
5 Simple Ways to Improve the Mind-Body Connection
1. Adopt Healthy Coping Strategies
When faced with stress, the brain and body connection kicks into fight or flight mode, and an instinctual response is to avoid dealing with the stress trigger. By stuffing down those negative emotions, you end up making your body sick. STOP! Adopting healthy coping strategies are the key to processing stress and worry in a productive way. Emotion-focused coping strategies include journaling, practicing mindfulness, or practicing gratitude. Problem-focused coping skills include establishing/maintaining boundaries, making To Do lists/setting goals, connecting with supportive people, or talking to a therapist. Each of these strategies helps you process negative feelings and embrace more positive ways of thinking. When you change your thoughts, you change your body’s response to those thoughts, and put yourself on a healthier path.
2. Meditate Regularly
Meditation is the practice of nonjudgmental, intentional awareness of the present moment, and can calm down your sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight response). It can also decrease emotional reactivity, stress, anxiety, and depression. To practice meditation, find a comfortable position, and bring your attention to your breath. Change your breathing rate from fast, shallow chest breathing to long, slow abdominal breathing. Your thoughts may wander, but simply notice the feelings without judgement, then bring your attention back to your breath. Meditating for 10-15 minutes should leave you better able to keep your mind focused on positive thoughts to keep your body calm and healthy. Regular meditation is the very foundation for an optimal mind-body connection.
3. Nourish Your Body with Whole, Healthy Foods
The body and brain function best when you consume a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods. Eating whole, organic foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants gives your body energy, fuels your body to fight off infection, and helps reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions (ie: high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.) allowing your body to perform at its best. The bacteria in your gut can also affect how you feel physically and mentally. Your digestive system doesn’t just have the job of digesting food, absorbing healthy nutrients, and getting rid of toxins, but 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract which has a huge impact on your emotions. So, nourish your body with whole healthy foods and you’ll power a strong mind-body connection with every bite.
4. Stay Active
All exercise is good exercise, so whether you go for a walk, take a swim, lift weights, or jump rope, physical activity is vital to optimal health. However, there are some forms of exercise that specifically combine body movement, mental focus, and controlled breathing to improve strength, balance, flexibility, and overall health. These mind-body exercises include yoga, tai chi, and qigong. These calming and empowering exercises have been proven to help strengthen the immune system and enhance the body’s ability to heal, decrease anxiety and pain, enhance sleep, and increase a sense of control and well-being. Practicing yoga, tai chi, or qigong provides a powerful way to actively deepen your mind-body connection.
5. Get Enough Rest and Downtime
Your body and brain need time each day to rest and reset. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. So, what’s the difference between “sleep” and “downtime”? “Downtime” are the breaks you give yourself from constantly processing information. That doesn’t mean you should read a book or scroll through your phone. It means shutting out all the input, quieting all the worry, and letting your mind wander. Take a nature walk or just close your eyes and daydream. Research has found that downtime can improve your mood, reduce stress, boost your performance, and increase your ability to concentrate, and focus. By giving your body sleep and your brain downtime, you’ll rejuvenate the mind-body connection, and set yourself on the path to optimal wellness.
Nurture Your Mind-Body Connection to Become the Best Version of You
There is a complex interrelationship between your mind and your body. The mind-body connection defines the connection between your mental health and your physical health. That means your behaviors, outlook, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and thoughts can directly affect your body’s physiological function. Conversely, how you care for your physical body — what you eat, how much you exercise, how well you sleep — can impact your mental state.
When you strengthen your mind-body connection, you’re able to heal your body with your mind. Understanding ways to achieve positive brain-body integration is the first step to bridging the disconnect between mind and body and achieving overall wellness. The top five techniques to strengthening your mind-body connection include adopting healthy coping strategies, meditating regularly, nourishing your body with healthy food, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest and downtime.
At OHI, we help you strengthen the mind-body connection, and set you on a productive path in your holistic healing journey. Book your next visit to OHI, and help your mind heal your body for a lifetime of optimal wellness!
Start your holistic healing journey today. Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 to learn more about our holistic approach to health and wellness. It will change your life for good!