Mind-Body Connections

Have you ever wondered why some people always seem to be ill? They seem to have one ailment after another, whether it is a cold, flu, headache, upset stomach or more serious illnesses such as ulcers and/or serious infections. There have been many studies done to determine the cause of reactions to illness. It seems that the way in which we think and feel about certain events and problems in our lives may affect our general health and well being.

Our body responds to events in our life by trying to adapt to certain threats. Responses to danger or threat cause body chemicals, hormones and antibodies to be released to guard us from those dangers. Increased acid in the stomach is one chemical that is produced during stress, along with adrenaline, blood sugar and others to help fight or flee from a situation. Prolonged secretion of all these hormones and chemicals may hinder the biggest protection of all - our immune system. Long periods of exposure to all this weakens our immune defenses. Then, when we need it most, it cannot help. The simplest virus comes along and we are unable to defend against it. Some people seem able to cope in certain ways that allow their bodies to act less defensively thereby not depleting their immune system. They may feel less threatened, therefore, are less open and vulnerable to illness. This is a complex system but the answer to a healthier body may be to learn how to cope, think and feel less passively and to be more in control of our lives. So, how do we do this?

Awareness of how our body acts in certain situations may be of primary importance. Being able to feel the internal signs of sadness, anger, stress and being able to express those emotions helps to relieve the build up of stress-related body chemicals. Using all of our senses to perceive what is happening to our body is the beginning of growth and change.That is, feeling how the body responds in emotional events. Keeping track of those feelings might be very useful. Thinking and planning to react more appropriately can then begin.

Think about what can be done in the situation. A good example of this is when we experience physical pain - like a tooth ache. Before making an appointment with the dentist, some people may use ice packs or take aspirin to dull the pain - to avoid awareness. There are reasons why we avoid awareness of our feelings and environment. Yet, part of our growth as human beings depends upon us being aware of what we are doing and when and where we do it. We cannot control the world, but we can control our response to it.

The belief in personal control is important to be able to function more effectively. Positive thinking follows awareness. We may not always be entirely positive but we are aware of the choice - to be completely negative or at least to try to be more positive. There is usually something positive in most situations. Taking a positive action can lead to plan of action and a choice in how to deal with a situation or event. Therefore, how we think in a time of urgency or crisis may help us to feel more in control and less defeated. The body no longer feels threatened.

The mind and body respond in different ways, but they depend on each other. Our bodies will send us messages when they need to rest. Hopefully, we can listen to those messages. If we choose not to hear our body signals, the illness that we suffer will force us to rest. It might be easier to listen to the warning and take some needed action before we are made to take a longer time to heal ourselves.

Copyright 1994,1995 Lovina Pivin
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