THE IMPORTANT MIND-BODY CONNECTION
The important mind body connection is real and greatly under-researched, under-funded and under-emphasized in mainstream science, medicine and human development! The proof is in the continued stigma around mental health. Also, the continued body shaming evident in the world (among other ways our minds are hurt by other individuals), the lack of mental health teaching in schools and the slow pace of including mind-body wellness in mainstream western medicine.
“Mind-Body Connection is the belief that the causes, development and outcomes of a physical illness are determined from the interaction of psychological, social factors and biological factors.” So says Johns Hopkins Medicine Healthcare Solutions.
Your emotional health includes:
- psychological well-being
- feelings about yourself
- quality of your relationships, at work and at home
- ability to create and use positive coping skills
- ability to manage your feelings
The Neurology Centre Toronto in The Mind-Body Connection talks about the ability of our mind, mental health and conscious state to influence our physical being. In reverse, they also say that our physical health can influence our mental health. The connection of the mind in neuroscience solidifies the idea that the neural networks in our brain are part of our physical make up. Every body has them. We have long chains of interconnected neurons throughout our body. These connections are the physical pathways that connect our mind to our bodies.
I am not going to get into more complicated medical information. It is important to note that there are physical findings that back up what is an ancient premise. How we experience the world affects us. The neuroscientist who founded The Centre for Mind-Body Medicine states “We’re finding that emotions and thoughts can alter neural pathways in the brain in relatively short amounts of time and even affect processes like gene expression and aging.”
MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA
Sometimes, this topic makes me want to SWEAR! I get so upset when people do not recognize mental health diagnoses as illness. People suffer when mental illness is ignored. There are people unable to get complete and inclusive mental health treatment. Why are governments in the year 2021 not completely funding mental health care?
If we develop diabetes, our pancreas is no longer working the way it should. NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) means our liver is unwell. Depression, anxiety and PTSD indicate chemical imbalance in our brain. Bipolar illness and schizophrenia are genetically predisposed. Our neural pathways can create illness. This illness is as REAL as any other! The scientific proof of the mind-body connection has yet to make a change in the way governments and indeed people view mental illness.
I have asked on Instagram if anyone has been fat shamed? I had a friend tell me she had indeed been skinny shammed. First of all, whose business is it anyways? Secondly, it is exactly that kind of unhealthy, unnecessary expressions of judgement that can lead from unhealthy thoughts to unhealthy lives!
Stop for a moment and imagine all the damage done when other people’s judgements are placed on tiny minds, teenage minds, and indeed adult minds. When one cannot find the worth in their own being, how can one find health? I mention body shaming as it is in the forefront of what affects people who I am working with daily, but there are so many other ways human beings are cruel to other human beings, without consideration of how they are shaping someones wellness outcomes!
MENTAL HEALTH TEACHING IN SCHOOLS
Back in my days of my grammar school and high school education, we had health class along with physical education. I do not recall this education including anything about mental well-being. Years later the standard curriculum in the Province of Ontario still does not teach mental health as illness.
Lives would be changed by teaching meditation and mindfulness to every child via public education. Teach kids coping skills would help them through crises! An ever increasing number of hotlines are becoming available in the western world to provide help after the fact, which is not proactive but reactive. The responsive nature of healthcare is another one of my pet peeves. Let’s get proactive with mental and physical health and start preventing illness.
I became a Registered Practical Nurse in the early 1990’s. My nursing college education did not include psychiatric nursing or indeed any education regarding mental health. RPNs are what I call the “jack of all trades” of nursing. Educated in basic medicine, we then learn to become experts in the field of medicine in which we work. THE BASICS do not include mental illness education.
Mainstream medicine is the system in which doctors and other medical practitioners treat symptoms of disease using various methods including medicine, therapies, surgery etc. In Ontario, there is a vast difference between a visit to a main-stream doctor, as compared to a holistic practitioner. Holistic medicine incorporates the entire body and seeks to achieve wellness for the entire being, mind and body.
I urge you to advocate for yourself with your healthcare providers. Be sure your Primary Care Provider is considering this mind-body connection when he or she is treating you.
Where can I start? This could be an essay on its’ own. The importance of your mind-body connection cannot be over stated! Daily, in fact, by the moment, we are all influencing our physical health! Our thoughts are finding their way along our neuropathways to other parts of our body. We are actively creating healthy mind-body connections or unhealthy mind-body connections. If you are not familiar with the name Louise Hay, Google her. Amazing!
MOST IMPORTANTLY consider how you speak to yourself and to others. Kindness is magic. Be aware of the mind-body connection and how it influences both your health and the health of those around you. This could be one of the most important lessons in health that you will ever learn.
Also Read Simple Meditation – My Way.