Mind-body healing. Sound new-agy? It may, but research tells us that there is a lot to this mind-body healing thing. If your body is giving you symptoms of chronic pain, stomach distress or IBS, headaches, or even skin issues, like eczema, it may be time to get your mind and body on your side.
You think we’d be beyond thinking of the mind and body as separate, but we still see it… a lot. Modern medicine tends to see the body as the source of problems and often doesn’t take into account the influence of the mind, even though it’s estimated that up to 75% of all primary care visits are for physical complaints related to stress.
The Body Wants to Heal Itself
The mind minds the body. There is incredible power in the brain’s control over the physical body and in turning the tides of chronic pain and distress into physical freedom.
Here are 4 Effective Ways to Get Started on Healing Your Mind and Body:
1. Start Connecting.
Begin checking-in with yourself. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Physical needs can be easily overlooked in our hectic lives. Checking-in isn’t just about what’s going on for you physically, but also about what you’re feeling emotionally and the types of thoughts that you are thinking.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
· What thoughts am I thinking?
· What emotions am I feeling & how do they feel in my body?
· Where am I holding physical tension in my body?
· What do I need right now? (This could be anything from a glass of water to fresh air).
· Do I need to move my body?
· Am I breathing fully and deeply into my stomach?
2. Breath In and Out Deeply. Repeat.
We’ve all heard “take a deep breath” so often that it may seem irrelevant at this point. At the risk of sounding cliché, spending a few minutes, or even a few moments, focusing on your breath can have profoundly positive benefits to your mind-body health.
How often do you pay attention to your breath?
When we’re stressed or in pain, the breath often shortens and shallow breathing becomes the norm. With shallow and shortened breath, the body cannot receive the vital oxygen it needs. This reduction in oxygen can lead to increased inflammation in the body, muscle tension, and muscle spasms. Short and shallow breath also has negative effects on our mental health, such as worsening anxiety.
Here’s a simple breath formula that can bring a sense of calm to your body and mind:
· Place your feet on the floor and sit up straight.
· Breathe slowly in through your nose.
· Pause slightly at the top of your inhale.
· Breathe out slowly through your mouth, emptying your lungs fully.
· Slightly pause at the end of your exhale.
· Repeat until you notice your mind calms.
3. Stop Resisting.
When you’re suffering, the first instinct might be to resist your suffering. Resistance is something I frequently did on my journey out of chronic pain. It’s common to do everything we can to avoid hurting. We may fight our pain with our thoughts, take medication, or distract ourselves. The problem with the strategy of resisting our experience, is that over time the problem can get worse, not better. What we resist persists.
Instead of resting, open up to your discomfort and be willing to have it.
This is not the same as liking our pain or accepting it, but being willing to have it creates the capacity for the change you want to happen.
4. Got Sun?
In the modern world, it’s not uncommon for most of our time to be spent indoors. Make it a practice to spend time in the sun everyday. Walking to and from your car doesn’t count. Research shows that giving our mind and body just 15 minutes of unadulterated sunlight is an antidote for depression and can help increase the strength of our immune system.
These 4 effective steps can get you started on your path to mind-body health: Start connecting, check-in, focus on taking deep breaths in through your nose and out of your mouth, practice willingness to experience what you've been resisting, and let the sun give your mind an anti-depressant, and your body the strength it needs.
To start on healing your mind & body, email me by clicking on Schedule an Appointment below.
Jennifer Huggins, Psy.D is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in West Los Angeles, specializing in Trauma and Chronic Pain. In addition to these specializations, she helps her clients heal depression, anxiety, and reduce stress though the use of cutting-edge treatments and empowering them to thrive in their lives. Her passion is helping clients find hope when its been lost.
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