Psychosomaticism: The Mind and Body Connection
By Sara Novak
As human beings, we understand the innate connection of the mind and body. The two are intimately intertwined. This brings us to the psychosomatic nature of human beings (psycho meaning psyche and soma meaning body).
The mind and body connection has become a widely used term to reference how the mental and physical are connected. The health of one depends on the health of the other. There are so many examples that show the power the mind has over our physical wellbeing. This is something we have known for millennia but are just now finding in Western medicine. Here are some examples of how the mind (whether unconsciously or not) is connected with the health of the physical body.
Table Of Contents:
- Psychosomatic Illnesses
- Negative Emotions And Your Health
- What Causes Negative Emotions
- Cleansing the Body Of Negative Emotions
Psychosomatic illnesses happen when stress in the body causes any number of physical illnesses. Remember: Stress is a killer likely just as problematic for the body as a bad diet, inactivity, smoking, and abuse of alcohol and drugs. It is caused by the involuntary activation of the nervous system and the release of stress hormones in the body. Here are just a few of the physical conditions that can have their root in our minds:
- Digestive issues
- Tension headaches
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Respiratory ailments
Negative Emotions And Your Health:
Many times, this can go unnoticed by people as they experience trauma of some sort whether it be physical or emotional. Suppression is the conscious denial of the feelings and emotions that you feel while repression is the subconscious denial, when the individual might not even be aware of the feelings, and one day, out of nowhere, they are reminded of them.
The action of repression causes trauma to become active only in the subconscious mind, which then leads to a heightened stress state of mind manifesting itself as illness in the body. Usually, this starts off as increased stress hormones in the body and leads to cascading issues later on down the line, often called “unconsciously thinking ourselves into illness.”
Many people suppress emotions that are difficult to deal with whether it is anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, or what have you. Suppression of these emotions does not get rid of them, rather, it can cause a low level of stress to constantly be present in the body. Dealing with these emotions and learning how to handle and dissipate them over time is the best strategy to get rid of them.
Learn More: 12 Ways To Skyrocket Energy Levels
What Causes Negative Emotions?:
Trauma is of course a source of negative emotions but there are others. It is not what happens to us but rather how the mind perceives it. This means it is our interpretation mechanism in the brain that leaves us with emotions, good or bad. For example, you might look out the window and see rain falling from the sky and you are automatically sad because it’s gray and gloomy. While another person might look outside and see puddles that they cannot wait to go jump in and enjoy. Maybe it gives them an excuse to stay inside reading their favorite book. Unfortunately, our negative bias is also a tendency in our brains that is ingrained after millions of years of evolution. Looking at a glass as half empty was an important tool for our very survival, always looking out of the corners of our eyes for threats. However, you can take steps to make your perspective a little less gloomy. Yes, scientifically speaking you can change your brain to lean towards the light. Here is how:
Cleansing The Body Of Negative Emotions:
Emotions are really energy. They come and they go, often moving quickly from one to the next. Only sometimes, they are stagnant—nasty emotions like fear, greed, guilt, jealousy, and anger hanging over your head like a dark cloud waiting for a rainstorm. Stagnant, stale emotions sometimes need a nudge in the right direction and a few simple steps can help.
Research has shown that meditation can change your brain helping your cloudy sky lean in towards the sunshine. A study published in the Journal of American College Health found that students who participated in a semester long meditation program had reduced levels of anxiety and increased levels of happiness. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that Rajyoga meditation increased the brain’s reward system which is responsible for our happiness. Meditation changes your brain because it teaches you over time to witness your emotions rather than immediately reacting and interpreting them. Something is not good or bad, it just is. Of course this takes quite a bit of practice but after a while it can come more naturally.
Steps to meditation:
- Find a place in your home where you will not be distracted.
- Meditate for the same amount of time at the same time everyday. As you improve, you can add a few minutes to your allotted time.
- Use a pillow to boost your seat and provide comfort.
- Set a timer.
- Close your eyes.
- First, look for any places of tension in your body and breathe into them.
- Follow your breath.
- Every once in a while, scan your body for tension once again.
- When a thought comes into your mind, start over by following your breath.
- Try to avoid judging your thoughts, just watch them.
- Repeat the process until the timer goes off. Thoughts will creep in again and again. It is not the thoughts, but the process that matters.
2. Identify Sources Of Negativity
After you have spent a while sitting with your thoughts in meditation, it is a good time to take stock of the sources of bad energy that are pulling you down. For example, the news, social media, Debbie downer friends, a nasty boss, or busyness. Sometimes, just having too much to do leads to a cycle of negativity because no matter how hard you work you cannot possibly get it all done. Once you have identified the sources of negativity in your life, it is time to start cutting. The more deliberate you are about your daily sources of negativity, the more of it you can eliminate from your life.
3. Problem Solve, Don't Just Complain
According to Dr. Guy Winch on Psychology Today, a licensed psychologist and author, “one such incident won't harm our mental health, but we have so many complaints, this scenario happens many times a day. This accumulation of frustration and helplessness can add up over time and impact our mood, our self-esteem, and even our general mental health.” There is a difference between identifying problems that you intend to solve and simply brooding over problems without doing anything about it. The former is effective and the ladder is not.
Ok, this is getting a bit whoo whoo, but still, many enthusiasts love smudging. If your space is filled with negative energy, you may need to give your home a good energy spring cleaning. Gather your dried sage, perfect for smudging, and get to work. Start with the doorway and work clockwise around your home, thoughtfully keeping your mind on what you are doing. Move into closets, hidden spaces, and dark corners, do not leave any place untouched. You can also use the Tibetan mantra “Om mani padme hum”, the mantra of compassion as you smudge.
5. Be Grateful
Start each day with gratitude, thankful that you have another day on this beautiful planet. Research published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality found that individuals who were grateful tended to also be happier and better adjusted. Another study out of Hofstra University found that “[g]ratitude is a critical part of an adolescent’s healthy development. The experience and expression of gratitude may promote appreciation, positive emotions, social support, and overall subjective well-being.” There are a number of ways you can express gratitude:
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Saying thank you
- Writing thank you notes
- Counting your blessings
All of these methods, according to Harvard Health, “strongly and consistently [are] associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
6. Relish In Nature
It is a relatively new phenomenon that most of us spend the majority of our days indoors. Before electricity, heating, cooling, and the list goes on, we were outside, much more closely connected to nature. Before agriculture, we did not even have a place to call home. We were hunter gatherers, roaming from one place to the next, linked wholly to Mother Nature. The bottom line is that nature is built into who we are and many of us experience negative emotions because we are too often disconnected from it. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that children who were more connected to nature were also happier. The authors write, “children who perceive themselves as more connected to nature tend to perform more sustainable behaviors; also, the more pro-ecological, frugal, altruistic, and equitable the children are, the greater their perceived happiness will be.” Another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research “provides evidence that everyday exposure to natural environments is associated with a more positive body image and greater happiness.”
Smiling is a way of fooling the body into positive thoughts. Even if you are not happy, a simple smile through your doom and gloom can make you feel better. It is the whole “fake it until you make it” bit. Try to go complain-free and try to smile even when you do not necessarily feel like it.
“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”
– Dalai Lama
8. Try Hypnosis
It is thought, though to be clear there is no research to back this up, that Past Lives Regression Therapy can help us release the negativity from past lives that is still weighing us down today. According to Ann Barham on Organic Authority, certified Regression Therapist and author of the new book The Past Life Perspective, “Past life regression therapy is about going to the very heart of the issue, where it all started,” says Barham. She says that negative emotions usually stem from negative events in a past life and going back hypnotically in a therapy session can help to look at the event that caused the issue and alleviate negative emotional energy.
9. Watch What You Say
Just like you do not need to be around people who speak negatively, you also do not want to be one of them. Gossiping and speaking badly about others makes you feel a lot worse than it does the person whom you are speaking about. Before you say something, it is important to ask yourself three important questions:
-Does it need to be said?
-Is it kind?
-Does it need to be said by me?
Gossiping, according to Jenn Michaels, life coach, energy healer, and author, is often caused by an imbalance in your throat or third chakra. “the yogic and Ayurvedic belief that there are seven specific energy spots throughout the body--when the third chakra (located at the throat) gets out of balance it can cause us to either talk too much or talk too little. Specifically, it can cause us to say things we don’t mean and later wish we hadn’t said.”
Need a mood boost today?
Sometimes we need a little kick in the positivity tail. Theacrine is a naturally produced chemical similar to caffeine. It has been shown in clinical studies to enhance the effects of caffeine, giving you a natural mood boost. Pair it with caffeine for a stimulating, yet enjoyable and productive, sensation so you can get more done. Research published in the journal Nutrients found that symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep issues decreased with the use of theacrine while cognitive function increased. It is found in UMZU’s MORNING MIRACLE along with l-theanine, which has also been shown to provide a clean rush of energy in the morning along with improved mental clarity, memory, and a mood boost. It is about getting up and being positive all day long.