If you’ve heard someone talking about the mind-body connection, you might have thought it sounded ambiguous and very “out there.” Like something you’d listen to in yoga class. Maybe your grandmother used to tell you that you’d get sick from stressing too much. Well, it now seems like it has some truth to it.
New science suggests that these old beliefs might actually be more accurate than we first thought.
The US National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health released an article that refers to a study from 2006. The study is called the Whitehall studies, where they wanted to test if stress had any effect on whether you’d get sick or not. They tested a group of workers from very demanding jobs, so-called “low-level” jobs. These people worked in an environment where the stress levels were very high and with very little autonomy. They compared it with a test group of people working in “high-level” jobs. The outcome was that the first test group had more than twice the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is a frontrunner to heart disease and diabetes. In the study, they also found that the workers from the first test group were more prone to die prematurely due to stress levels at work. They measured heart rate and cortisol levels (which is the hormone that gets released in the body due to stress).
According to this study and others, it is suggested that there is no actual division between mind and body, because of how the communication works between your brain and your nervous system. “According to the mind-body or biopsychosocial paradigm, which supersedes the older biomedical model, there is no real division between mind and body because of networks of communication that exist between the brain and neurological, endocrine and immune systems,” said Oakley Ray, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN, USA).”
So this idea suggests that you are what you think – and vice versa.
This means that if you care about staying healthy, you shouldn’t only tend to your physical health, but also take care of your mental health. You’ll most likely be healthier overall.
You have probably heard that you should take a deep breath when you’re feeling angry. Well, that doesn’t come from just anywhere. When we breathe deeply, it calms our nervous system and a process of letting out stress-reducing hormones begins. In yoga, for example, breathing is an essential part of the practice where you believe it to be healing for your body.
Maybe try some meditation to tend to your mental health. Studies are showing that people who practice meditation feel calmer, more at peace and suffer less from anxiety. Everyone is different, but some people testify to feeling happier than before.
We know that exercising is an excellent way to stay healthy, but did you know that it actually is beneficial for your mental health as well? After exercising, “happy hormones” gets released into your brain, and indeed, make you feel happier and more relaxed. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly generally have better mental health.