Understanding the connection between mind and body is integral to reaching our full wellbeing potential. When we talk about mind-body connection, we refer to the link between our emotional health and physical health.
Our body will always respond to how we feel or think. A great example of this is how we handle stress. Our emotions impact our body chemistry and biology, and vice versa. To elaborate, when we experience stress, this triggers a combination of signals from hormones and nerves, including adrenaline and cortisol. Due to these hormones, our heart rate elevates, the blood flows into our limbs (getting ready to fight or flight), we may start breathing more heavily, etc. When these signals are triggered and the body’s stress response is constantly on high alert, this is chronic stress. As a result we may experience weight gain (because our bodies don’t have the chance to rest and digest), high blood pressure, irritability, and more.
How can we better understand our mind-body connection? It starts with mindfulness: recognizing the sensations in our body that occur when we experience a specific emotion. It isn’t always possible to control our emotions, but by being more aware of them and their effects on our physical body, we can feel better connected with bodies.
Furthermore, mind-body medicine works with modalities that have clearly shown improvement in many physical illnesses. These practices include mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and breathwork. Through these practices, we can cultivate that mindfulness to help us deepen our mind-body connection. This is a holistic approach to wellbeing–one that acknowledges that many modern chronic illnesses are related to not only our physical health, but our emotional and mental health.
Our physical health and emotional health are uniquely intertwined. Through mind-body work, we can better understand ourselves, and maybe even love ourselves better, too.