Let’s get them back together.
We consider ourselves made up two parts The mind, which is our feelings, personality and thoughts and The Body: a vessel with which we do, make and move. This concept extends so far that we don’t have a word in the English langue that describes them as one, the closest we come too is Self as in myself, yourself, ourselves. But it doesn’t quite convey the truth of a connected body and mind. It’s meaning is usually defined as the identity, character, or essential qualities of any person or thing.
However it’s what we have, so from here on when I refer to The Self it’s yourself as a whole being, mind and body as one. Because they are, they are completely intertwined with endless empathy for each other, when something effects one the other feels and responds to it too, we cannot separate them in any way but with words.
So how do they effect each other so dramatically?
Every thought releases some type of chemical. When positive thoughts are generated, when we’re feeling happy, or optimistic, cortisol decreases and the brain produces serotonin, creating a feeling of well-being. This puts our bodies into the parasympathetic part of our automates nervous system system, which relaxes our muscles, lowers our heart rate, improves sleep, optimises digestion, relaxes muscles and creates a feeling of calm.
However repeated negative thoughts, such as anger, resentment, fear, or depression, may cause our bodies to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This can trigger the sympathetic side of the automatic nervous system, it’s known as fight or flight and it readies us for danger, gives us extra strength and speed to keep us safe. But the down side is that it puts strain on the body by pausing it’s other activities, this can cause insomnia, poor digestion, muscle tension, low immunity, elevated heart rate and anxiety.
So we know that thoughts and feelings effect the body, what many people don’t consider is that the exchange goes both ways.
Exercises is known to produce endorphins, decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilise mood, improve sleep, and build self-esteem.
Various studies have noted the importance of posture in affecting one’s personally and relationship to people and the world. A straight backed open posture that takes up space can boost confidence and increases social interactions, whilst a slouched, contained and closed off posture can isolate and contribute to depression and low self esteem.
Now a persons posture isn’t always a choice, often we fall into patterns in how we sit and stand because muscle memory has decided that’s the most comfortable.
For example if get stuck in fight and flight mode due to a long period of stress or a traumatic event, then our muscles adapt and take on the tension as a new normal. So even when the stress has passed and our mind is calm, our body could still be trapped in the pattern, either curl up and hide or stand up and fight, this then effects our thoughts and feelings.
Contracting our muscles uses a large amount of energy and when we have chronically tense muscles the constant sapping can cause us to feel fatigued, unfocused, stiff and achy. When these aches progress into pain it can have have a dramatic effective on our emotional wellbeing and ability to function in day to day life. This creates it’s own stresses and anxieties, which causes more tension within our muscles, that brings on more stress, becoming a vicious circle.
Working on our mental heath will help us navigate stressful situations more smoothly and switch us back into our calm parasympathetic nervous system swiftly, reducing the negative effects on our physical health such as breathing difficulties, heart problems, digestive issues and poor posture. But it is also important to work from a physical side as well, breathing optimally, exercising regularly, eating well and carefully releasing the muscular tension caused by emotional triggers can have as much of an effect on preventing and improving depression and anxiety to help improve your mental heath.
So let’s Work on the body and mind together for optimal Self Heath