Think back to a time when you were engrossed in an activity you enjoy. The time flew by and you were in a good mood. Your mind felt calm, focused and relaxed. If you suffer from physical ailments, you may even have found that your aches and pains didn't seem so bad.
This scenario demonstrates the mind-body connection, and how the mind can impact the body.
The Mind Impacts the Body
A healthy, happy, relaxed state of mind imparts benefits to your body, through a number of biochemical and physiological mechanisms. Improving your mental state can have a dramatic healing effect on a variety of physical conditions, such as high blood pressure, back pain, asthma, and headaches.
Meditation and visualization both take advantage of the mind-body connection. As you focus on engaging your mind, your body also experiences the impact.
On the other hand, a continually agitated, fearful, or stressed state of mind wears down the body's organs, leading to compromised physical health. The hormones released (e.g.: cortisol, adrenaline) when you experience these emotions for an extended period weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to all kinds of illnesses and diseases.
The Body Impacts the Mind
Just as your mind has a direct impact on your body, your body also has a direct impact on your mind. Most people have had one of those busy days where you find yourself going longer than usual without eating, or skipping a meal altogether. Even the most even-tempered person can start to feel cranky, irritable, and impatient when this happens.
Failing to take care of your body, whether by eating poorly or skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, or some other means, impacts your mind in myriad ways. Mood, memory, learning ability, mental sharpness, and problem-solving abilities can all be affected.
Adopting a Holistic Mind-Body Approach
Focusing on the health and well-being of either your mind or your body will undoubtedly yield some benefits. However, given the complex and constant interplay between your mind and body, adopting a holistic mind-body approach is needed to truly achieve optimal health and total well-being.
As you strive to take hold of wellness in your life, consider how the mind-body connection is always at work. By taking a whole-person, integrated approach, everything you do will work together synergistically, for greater overall gain.
Here are some ways you can nourish and protect both your body and your mind:
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