Your brain and body are connected; that’s no secret. Trillions of nerve endings, neurotransmitters, and neural pathways deliver messages between our mind and our physical being every second of every day, even when we’re sleeping! They control things such as when we breathe, how we digest our food, and how we process pain – emotional or physical.
Our neurons can’t distinguish between emotional or physical pain. They just know pain for what it is. It’s the same with other sensations and emotions such as stress, fear, and exhaustion; your neurons don’t know the difference between physical stress and mental stress, so they just tell your body that stress is present!
James Gordon, the founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, says, “The brain and peripheral nervous system, the endocrine and immune systems, and indeed, all the organs of our body and all the emotional responses we have, share a common chemical language and are constantly communicating with one another." A common chemical language. That means that our physical bodies and our minds are linked more closely than we thought! This link or bond between the two elements of our being is called the mind-body connection, and it’s the crux of your health – both physically and mentally.
What is a Mind-Body Connection?
Let’s get one thing straight first: by “mind,” I don’t mean “brain,” per se. Your mind is the compilation of your mental states like beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and thoughts, while your brain is just the holding vessel for all of the grey matter and neurons powering those thoughts and feelings.
Why Does Mental State Matter for Your Physical State?
Every mental state you experience is associated with a physiological reaction. For instance, the mental state of fear causes your body to produce stress hormones that slow your digestion and tense your muscles. But since your mind and body are close allies, the same is true for physical states! Chronic pain or diabetes can trigger a mental state such as depression or anxiety, which affects your ability to cope with the illness and manage the symptoms.
On the flip side of the coin, your brain can release chemicals and hormones that benefit your health! Research has shown us that the substances your brain produces rely heavily on your emotions and beliefs. If you’re ill or injured, but you have a positive outlook and believe your body will heal, your brain will likely release substances that promote healing in your physical body1!
So – Which Comes First?
Of course, both physical health and mental health are essential for living a holistically healthy lifestyle. But remember this: you cannot have optimal physical health without a healthy mind.
Now, there are many ways that you can treat your mind and your body separately – you can go to your physician for your body and a counsellor for your mind. But does it really make sense to see two different specialists and treat it as two separate issues when your mind and body are so closely linked?
That’s why I have founded Inner Fix Wellness and Bristol Human Givens – to reach people in Bristol and the surrounding communities who are sick of feeling sick! I am a psychotherapist who can provide counselling and guide you towards healing, improving your mental health and physical health as one entity so that you can just feel better.
Do you want to improve your well-being, from mind to body? Visit Inner Fix Wellness for more.