Addiction and the Mind Body Connection
Body and mind – an unbreakable link
Have you ever noticed that when you feel stressed or angry, you get a sore back, a stomach ache, or other physical symptoms? Your mind isn’t imagining these symptoms. Your mental and emotional states can have a physical impact on your health. This phenomenon is known as the mind-body connection.
People who have strong, steady emotional health pay attention to their mental states. FamilyDoctor.org reports that these people come up with healthy coping strategies to deal with life problems and changes. This in turn helps them stay physically healthy! But others resort to unhealthy coping strategies, including drugs and alcohol, often due to an unstable emotional state. Some may use drugs and alcohol as a reaction to pain and other health problems, which can be intimately wrapped up with their emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.
Working to improve your emotional and mental health helps your body stay healthier and gives you another way to deal with problems besides drugs or alcohol. Even better: treatments that focus on the emotional aspects of addiction are able to help the recovery process.
The Connection Between Mind & Body
A 2008 literature review in the Social Work in Health Care journal detailed the ways that the mind impacts the body. It noted that stress affects white blood cells, inhibiting the body’s wound healing process and causing vaccines to work inefficiently. This review also discussed talk-therapy interventions, which are able to help the body fight disease more effectively. It seems that some mental and emotional therapies are able to improve the ability of the physical body to recover and become stronger.
But the mind-body connection is not just limited to fighting disease. A 2014 review in the Substance Use and Misuse journal noted that numerous studies have found mindfulness practices to be effective in treating addiction. Research by the Center for Mindfulness found that meditation can control a part of the brain involved in cigarette cravings, and that mindfulness can reduce cravings due to other addictions also.
How to Work on Your Mind-Body Connection
What sets the people with good emotional health apart?
It’s not simply genetic — anyone can develop healthier mental and emotional states. FamilyDoctor.org recommends that you begin by paying greater attention to your emotions and behaviors, and try to understand the reasons behind them. Address and express your feelings, rather than repressing them. Try to accept your emotions and move on, by focusing on the positive aspects of your life. And finally, try to come up with new perspectives for your situations and to find support from others who deal with similar problems.
But the mind-body connection works both ways, so don’t forget about your physical health! Your physical health will impact your emotional health. Focus on eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep for your body. It can also be beneficial to practice meditation, guided yoga, and other relaxing exercises which improve your state of mind, emotional balance, and ability to deal with stress.
Using the Mind-Body Connection Within Addiction Treatment
Understanding the connection between your emotional health and your physical health can open up new opportunities to deal with addiction. Employing both psychological and spiritual methods to improve your emotional health, and physical exercises which improve your physical health is important when recovering from addiction.
Tools like therapies and counseling to work on personal and family problems, as well as help focusing on a positive mindset for the future, including setting goals, making strong decisions, and cultivating skills which will help you stay on top of your daily life, will help to keep you on the right path..
A good addiction recovery program should focus on both the emotional and physical aspects of addiction in order to be truly effective. But the mind-body connection reaches beyond addiction recovery; it’s an effective way to approach putting your life into greater order each day, whether you’re battling an addiction or you’re already on the path to recovery.