Connected Mind & Body
The Science Behind A Connected Mind And Body.
We take a look at the science the shows how deeply physical and mental health are interconnected.
A little over 15 years ago in the United Kingdom, the Whitehall studies were published. Scientists deep dived into the connection between low-level workers experiencing high stress levels, and the effect that had on developing Metabolic Syndrome. This condition is often the precursor to heart disease or diabetes.
The study revealed that those working in these situations were almost twice as likely to develop this syndrome. And they were more likely to die prematurely than their colleagues who worked at a higher level. You might ask how stress was defined. It’s a good point, and in this case meant having little control over their jobs or work goals.
But you can see the application right? For many of us, that feeling of having no control or self-autonomy is one we know well. Perhaps through a stressful job, a personal relationship or in some of the circumstances life throws at us. When we find ourselves spiralling into feeling out of control, it’s natural our stress levels rise.
And stress has a profound effect on our physical health.
How Stress Affects The Mind And Body
Let's take a quick detour to look at the impact of stress on the human body from another point of view.
At Sensate they've taken a long, hard look at stress from a medical and holistic viewpoint. They're particularly interested in how stress symptoms affect your Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is a part of your body that controls those functions you don't need to think about. That includes breathing, your heart rate, digestion and so on.
It's made up of two elements, the sympathetic (SNS) and the parasympathetic (PNS) functions. In short, the SNS is like your body's go button. If you're facing a sudden threat or in danger, you can rely on it to trigger your adrenaline. It will give you the option of fight-flight-freeze until you're out of danger. Once the threat has gone, your PNS function kicks in restoring your body to calm and restoring balance.
Stress In The Modern World
But here's the problem. In our modern world those threats we talked about aren't fleeting. You're not facing danger of extinction from a tiger or from consistent difficulty in finding food. The threats come at you every day from low level anxiety about work. You worry about your health, your children, or the state of the world. That constant murmuring of worry puts your body at the ready. Your SNS function is on almost all the time, and your body is under a constant state of tension.
Your PNS function doesn't have a chance to get to work and the symptoms of stress and anxiety keep compounding.
And, it works the other way. A body under physical duress has a significant impact on the mind. A vast number of people with a long-term chronic health condition also suffer significant bouts of depression and with symptoms of anxiety. The issue comes full cycle with the fact that depression often leads to a worsening severity of the physical symptoms.
Proof, if proof is needed, of how inextricable the mind body connection is.
With this knowledge it’s possible to treat mind body wellness in a whole different light. Traditional medicine, for the most part, has the body covered. There are therapies for those suffering a wide range of mental health issues, but seeing the two as connected and treating both? That’s where the smart approach lies.
And that's where we can look at some traditional methods as well as more modern treatments. It's absolutely right to talk to a medical professional to get help if you have trouble sleeping. But what if there was more you could do to help yourself?
Circle back for a moment to when we talked about the SNS function of the ANS on permanent standby. I mentioned how the PNS is needed to bring your body back to a state of calm.
There are several ways you can help your body do this.
Take a look at the vagus nerve. This nerve runs from the brain stem down through the body. It carries information to most of the major organs and is part of the PNS function. Tone this nerve and this can help to tone your body's ability to kick-start the PNS when needed.
Do you ever feel knots in your stomach when stressed? That’s the vagus nerve in action. This cranial nerve allows the main organs of the body to communicate, and is often called the gut-brain superhighway. The vagus nerve is responsible for the way your body reacts to stress, so toning this important nerve can play an important role in improving your digestion, heart health and breathing rate.
It makes a remarkable difference to your overall feelings of calm and sense of peace. And this has a knock-on effect to your physical health.
Toning The Vagus Nerve
When it comes to toning this nerve the practice of meditation is a perfect bridge to better mind body connection. Meditation tones the nerve, triggers the PNS and reduces stress throughout the body. It takes time and practise but is always worthwhile. That feeling of mind and body wellness is worth the effort and the hours you'll put in.
Mindfulness techniques and taking care of your physical and mental health can help and Sensate designed their device to help achieve a sense of peace.
Why not try the following
- Gratitude journaling
- Deep breathing
- Positive emotions - Exposing yourself to things that are beautiful, such as a sunset, spending time in nature , looking at pretty pictures, or playing with your pets
However you go about it, please remember your mind and body are part of the same ecosystem. Looking after the one has a direct result on looking after the other. It's a beautiful relationship and one that deserves nurturing.
Products from NobleBlu to help