How Your Mind Can Affect Your Body

Whenever the idea of a mind and body connection is discussed in relation to our health, people often think about more alternative types of practices. Often classified as a complementary and alternative medicine, activities like yoga or meditation are the most common ways for individuals to tap into this mind-body element.

While many types of practices can help us to tune into our physical well being, scientists have found that our thoughts can impact our health from a more direct standpoint. Not only does our mental health play a role in our overall level of health, but the way we think about our own physical activity can actually shape our outcomes.

The Mind Body Connection

While it’s not entirely surprising, the aspect of mental health and its link to physical health isn’t as widely discussed as you might think. However, according to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word “health,” elements of mind, body, and spirit are all encompassed within this one word. Examining your own mental health can often shine a light on how your emotional state is affecting your body.

Mental illness is becoming an increasingly common condition, as nearly 44 million people are affected by a mental health concern in any given year. These diagnoses can range from mild depression to paranoia or schizophrenia, and the ways in which symptoms manifest themselves can vary dramatically. The common thread, however, is that whatever may be affecting us mentally also shows up in our bodies.

Let’s examine depression, a well-known issue that plagues many people around the world. Physical symptoms of this condition can include insomnia, chronic fatigue, and even aches and pains throughout your body. On a wider scale, those with mental health concerns can be subject to obesity, asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Beyond Just Mental Health 

This connection between how we think and how we feel is even further proven with the study of psychosomatic pain, a condition where the body and mind are intimately linked to a particular set of emotions and symptoms. Many who struggle with this disorder are often sent from doctor to doctor, as it’s difficult for Western medical practitioners to diagnose and treat it. However, as more research develops, it’s becoming clear that a true mind-body link can be attributed to these conditions.

Chronic pain has been linked to psychosomatic causes, as the mind can produce or exacerbate physical symptoms. John Sarno, a leading expert in psychosomatic medicine, developed a theory that many symptoms are an unconscious distraction to aid in repression of deep emotional issues. In layman terms, people start to feel physical pain rather than experience emotional pain. There have been hundreds of cases of different health issues, ranging from temporary blindness, muscle pain, inability to walk, etc, that have been tied back to psychosomatic reasons.

Case Study About Exercise

While the mind-body link is fascinating, you may be wondering how it relates to your specific health challenges. Perhaps you are conscious of your mental health and take measures to create balance in your life. You might even exercise a few times per week but find that losing weight or lowering your blood pressure seems to be out of reach. Once again, how you think about your health may actually be contributing to the effects you’re seeing.

Scientists at Stanford University embarked upon a 21-year project which examined 61,000 adults and their patterns of thought around exercise. The data collected included how often the participants engaged in physical activity as well as how they felt about their own efforts compared to their peers.

Some of the individuals died during the study from a wide range of health issues, but the overall trend that was discovered is quite surprising. Those who thought they were not engaging in as much activity as their peers actually died younger than others, despite implementing the exact same amount of exercise as others.

What caused this pattern to emerge? Researchers attribute it to a number of possible factors, all of which continue to support the strong notion of the mind-body connection:

  • Comparing ourselves to others may encourage a demotivation, where if we believe we are less fit than our friends and family, we may not even bother trying to exercise in the first place.
  • Placing strict expectations on ourselves can create undue stress and may lead to negative health conditions. This outcome is also supported by the data examining how our mental health and emotions can dictate our physical health.
  • The final reason for early death in those who thought they were less active might be attributed to what is being called the “nocebo effect.” The simple act of a negative thought can be enough to lessen the amount of benefit, so if you believe you aren’t exercising enough, then your body will not reap the same amount of benefit compared to those who have a positive outlook.

When it comes to your mindset around physical activity and your overall health, it’s important to remember that you get to determine what elements encompass an active lifestyle. Working with your primary care physician to develop a diet and exercise plan that meets your needs is your best bet to seeing results, as long as you keep your thought process positive!

by Courtney Elder
Reposted with permission. Original article: https://www.singlecare.com/blog/how-your-mind-can-affect-your-body/

How I broke out of my current writing slump.

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Have you ever committed to doing something you loved, but once you’ve done it for a while you’re uninterested? Although you still have a heart to pursue your passions, you may find yourself in a slump when it comes to enjoying it. As you try to partake in the activity you get bogged down and suddenly have ideas to do something else. Huh? I thought you loved doing this though? If you’re like me then you’ve started to panic, just a little.

I love writing and made the decision to use my writing as my income. I initially was excited to begin a new career, but I recently started to feel a lot less enthusiastic about it. Then I started to stress because of my writing slump. I realized I didn’t have the motivation needed to write even though I was on my computer daily. One day I figured out what to do.

Here are 3 ways to get your writing passion back.

Change Your Workstation
I decided to make sure the area that I do most of my work in was comfortable. I purchased a new chair that had a mesh backing and super comfortable bottom. I also bought a new mouse and traditional keyboard so that I didn’t have to use my laptop. Then I elevated my main monitor to eye level. This prevented me from having to look down at a screen which was damaging to my neck and shoulders.

Clean Your Room
Next, I cleaned my room. A clean room helped me to focus on writing because it helped to clear my mind. I guess a clean room equals a clean mind. Before I cleaned it, I never realized that the clutter in my room contributed to the clutter in my head. It only makes sense that the organization of my room contributes to the coordination of thoughts in my head. I also noticed that I breathe better – but that’s probably because I cleaned up some smelly stuff in the room. However, I will remind myself to clean my room weekly.

Exercise Your Wrists
My final step to getting out of my writing slump was doing exercises for my arms and wrists. My hands were getting sore with every minute of typing when I was in a slump. To solve this problem, I found some good exercises that worked out and stretched the muscles in my wrists, hands, and shoulders. When you’re a writer, they tend to get stiff and sore when typing and sitting.

I hope the things that helped me get my passion for writing back will help you do the same. Even if it’s not writing that you love, some of these things will help you too. If you’ve ever been in a slump, tell me what you did to change your life and increase motivation.

 

Here are the exercises I’ve done for my wrist and hands.

These are the exercises I do for my shoulder:

Fasting in Prison Camp

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They say fasting has benefits for the mind, spirit, and body. Many people have to fast for medical procedures and some do it for religious reasons. I did it fit none of those reasons, but I still experienced the benefits of a cleansing fast.

My fast was purely accidental. Since I missed the 3:30 pm short line (the food line for food service workers), I decided to fast. I found that if I didn’t think about food, I wasn’t hungry. I had been practicing a lot of vibrational states. and a lot of it became stronger in my mind. I had happier thoughts because of it. In this lower physical state, I learned to make myself happier. This state also helped me understand my inner demons.

Now that I understood them, I could get rid of them and free my mind for the real God within. I began to feel that people were important, their happiness was too. I also understood that some people are miserable and by getting angry with me, they are only reflecting themselves. In order to have the meaningful conversations and relationships I wanted to have I had to reflect how I feel about myself. I allowed my words to express my feelings and obtain what I wanted in life as I wrote it on paper.

After twenty-four hours, I was happier than I’ve ever been. It was because I fasted, looked at my problems, and forgave those I needed to forgive. My fast also helped me remove anger and hatred from my body and mind. My yoga teacher informed me that what I had done was cleanse all my emotional baggage. The vibrational states sent chills down my body and I felt strong sensations in my left hand and up my left arm that day. I had them strongly and sporadically. Off and on, my left hand would get cold and I had a sensation, but my face and body felt normal.

Next day after fasting, I stopped eating my fourth meal and had one of the best workouts I had ever had in prison. I still ate a snack after I returned from the library. I think I will get stronger because of eating less.

Beware Of Snitches At Herlong Prison Camp

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“Snitches get stitches” is a powerful statement that implies that tattle tales or snitches deserve the consequence of being beat up various people. The outside community never favors a snitch and neither does the prison community. I spent a little time in Herlong Prison Camp and encountered snitches. Here’s a little story about why you have to be aware of snitches in prison camp and why you need to stay away from them.

One day, my friend and I were in the library. We watched a correctional officer (CO) on the baseball diamond open a garbage bag and put in some type of container, then tossed it out. He also looked through a box, pulled out clothes and something else that looked like clothes. Then he began digging with a shovel. I remember hearing that some inmates hide their phones in the dirt around the baseball diamond or the track.  Seeing him with a shovel told me he was looking for phones or other contraband. My friend said, “That had to be a snitch.” He knew that the CO wouldn’t come out of his office unless he had a good reason to do so.

Snitches are the cheapest way to govern and regulate the system. Snitching provides a passive way to get revenge or power over someone else. The government officials and CO’s encourage snitching (or at least they did at Herlong) because it helps them save money on cameras and other security equipment. I’ve heard of some snitches turn in their own people for the smallest rewards. The threat of snitching makes inmates more discreet with their activities. They only disclose their activities around the people they trust. I believe this is part of the reason inmates can be antisocial or form cliques.

However, I feel snitching is a cowardly way to solve a problem. People are so quick to tell on someone else because they can’t fight. I ran into two people that told me straight up—they have no problem snitching. They felt that they were empowered by their lack of fear of snitching. If it was me, then I would try to talk it out or have another inmate that we both trust help us work it out. We couldn’t talk to a CO because they could have their own agenda that would ultimately benefit them instead of us.

However, snitching only made inmates look like bitches to other inmates and the authorities. Although snitching made a CO’s job easier, the CO didn’t respect a snitch because he saw him as someone who couldn’t fight for himself or who didn’t have problem-solving skills. They knew that the only reason they were snitching was to get someone else in trouble or to kiss the CO’s ass to get some perks that made their prison experience easier. For whatever reason, the snitch thinks it gives them power. However, a CO could change his mind, put the snitch in the hole or SHU and no one, not even the CO would remember him.

Remember, “snitches get stitches”. They aren’t respected by anyone even though the governmental system uses it to control security. Never be part of that system.