Imagine if your attitude could strengthen your immune system. Or if your outlook on life could help you live longer. According to emerging research on the mind-body connection, both of these statements may be true, which means that total wellness goes beyond physical fitness. It’s about supporting the powerful relationship between your emotions and your body.
What is the mind-body connection?
Mind-body connection theorizes that how we process our emotions has a direct impact on our physical health. It suggests that our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning. For example, if we are experiencing emotional stress and anxiety, we’re more likely to experience physical symptoms—think headaches, ulcers, and high blood pressure. Alternatively, if we can manage our emotions through healthy coping mechanisms, we’re more likely to feel better physically.
Why it’s important
Our minds are incredibly powerful. And they’re intrinsically tied to our bodies. How you think can affect how you feel, and how you feel can drastically change your way of thinking. But can your thoughts really affect your health? Consider a scenario with us.
Have you ever dragged yourself to the gym after a long workday and slogged through a workout, even though your heart wasn’t in it? Or headed into a Zumba class right after a stressful phone call or interaction? If so, the odds are good that you were distracted or had a more difficult time “getting into the zone” than usual. You might have even left feeling more drained and anxious than you started.
That’s because exercise can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s an incredibly effective way to boost endorphins and alleviate occasional stress. But if you’re in a constant state of stress, a grueling workout might actually make matters worse.
Improving your mind-body connection
First, recognize that your body responds to the way you think. If you’re thinking about stresses in your life—money concerns, buying a new house, relationship troubles—you might notice tension in your shoulders, an elevated heart rate, or a clenched jaw. That awareness is a crucial first step in building a stronger mind-body connection. The next step is working through stress.
Some mind-body stress regulation practices include:
- Gentle movement and meditation practices, like tai chi, Qigong, and yoga.
- Breathing exercises that help regulate your central nervous system and promote relaxation.
- Emotional shifting, where you make a conscious effort to shift from negative emotions to more positive ones through guided exercises.
While these practices take time and commitment to master, eventually, it eventually becomes easier to recognize and use your mind-body connection to improve your health—both mentally and physically.
At Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club, we believe in the power of living a healthy life and strive to be far more than just a gym—we are a community filled with passionately health-minded members and staff. Let us know how we can support you as you build better health through mind-body connection!