Mind-Body Connection

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How the Mind-Body Connection Influences Substance Use and Mental Health 

The mind-body connection is the connection between your mind and body. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is pretty simple – and absolutely amazing at the same time! The mind-body connection is an ongoing mechanism that never stops to take a rest. The mind and body communicate, providing feedback to one another all day long. In short, how you think influences how you feel and how you feel influences how you think. 

People think that feelings exist in a bubble – that what’s in our mind stays there. This isn’t true at all. Your thoughts and feelings determine the aches, pains, and even the relaxation you feel in your body. Afterall, we call our thoughts “feelings” – that’s because we feel them! There’s an actual physical sensation to the things we’re thinking of. Anything you “feel” has a bodily reaction. Think about it for a second. Have you ever had tummy trouble after a fight with a loved one? Have you ever felt really confident about something, suddenly standing tall and proud? Our thoughts are a powerful thing. Understanding this concept helps us understand substance use and mental health better. 

Why is the Mind-Body Connection Important? 

The mind-body connection is important for understanding mental health and addiction recovery because the influence the mind has over the body (and vice versa) can help people understand themselves better. 

Nowadays many addiction recovery treatment programs incorporate activities involving the mind-body connection. When we recognize that the body and mind are connected, it helps us understand addiction in a different and more deep way. The mind-body connection can even be applied to understanding chronic pain in a more holistic way. Those suffering from chronic pain are likely to develop mental health and substance abuse issues, however, incorporating mind-body techniques can help understand the body’s response to chronic pain and prevent some of these issues from cropping up. Here are some examples of how the mind-body connection can be used in substance abuse recovery:

  • Improving overall quality of life
  • Improving overall health and wellness
  • Understanding relapse prevention
  • Understanding triggers 
  • Managing the body’s response to stress
  • Identifying addictive behaviors

Is the Mind-Body Connection a Scientific Concept?  

The mind-body connection is rooted in science, however, the scientific community has been debating over these concepts for years. The questions many scientists have are: how much influence does one have over the other? Does the mind completely control the body’s reactions? And, what is the “mind” exactly? Therefore, scientific evidence about the mind-body connection isn’t overwhelming but it does exist. According to this Psychology Today blog post created by a known Ph.D, the mind influences the body in odd ways. In the article the writer explains that after her mother passed away she was suddenly afflicted by a “frozen shoulder,” which caused immobility and a lot of pain. The writer attributes this affliction to her mother’s passing. Her sadness and stress caused a bodily reaction. 

Stress is a factor in the mind-body connection. In this post on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, the author explains that well-being is rooted in health in the physical and mental arena. The post urges US citizens to take a holistic approach to their health by stressing less. 

How do Yoga and Meditation Impact the Mind and Body? 

These findings about the connection between our bodies and minds are driving entire industries. For example, yoga and meditation are health services that promote physical health and mental well-being by calming the central nervous system. But, how do they work? 

In yoga, you control your body by holding specific poses. Usually, your yoga instructor will come over and correct your pose – because the proper posture in a pose is crucial to mastering yoga. The discomfort it causes teaches us to deal with stress. On the other hand, meditation is about recognizing your thoughts and sitting in them. You’re not taught to control your thoughts, but instead accept them and recognize that they don’t run your life. 

Both yoga and meditation focus on what a person can control in their own life. When a person feels stressed or anxious, they usually feel a complete lack of control. Yoga and meditation root a person back into themselves holistically. Both of these are considered mindfulness techniques. These techniques help with a person’s overall health and well-being. When applied in a drug rehabilitation treatment center, yoga and meditation can have a powerful impact on the lives of clients. 

Does Nutrition Impact the Mind-Body Connection? 

Yes! Nutrition has a very real impact on the connection. Simply put, you are what you eat. Eating nutritious, delicious, and healthy foods has a great effect on the way your brain and body function. Eating this way impacts how you feel in your body and how you feel about yourself. Unhealthy foods cause us to feel like junk. Eating too much sugar causes you to crash. At first, the sugar makes you feel great – but when your blood sugar spikes, it no longer feels good. On the other hand, eating a light, healthy meal makes you feel good all night long. Your body is revitalized by natural herbs, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. 

If you take this concept and apply it to substance abuse recovery, the end result can be monumentous. Leaving drugs and alcohol behind while filling the body with healthy vitamins has a wonderful effect, especially when someone is just starting on their recovery journey. 

To Sum it all Up

The mind-body connection is a concept rooted in science. Our brain is connected to our body in ways we feel on a daily basis – the evidence is all around us. Applying these concepts to substance abuse treatment can be very beneficial for those just starting out on their road to recovery AND for those who want to level up in their lives.

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