Many of our readers grew up in a time where the connection between the mind and body was rarely talked about (if at all).
Emotions like sadness or experiences of anxiety presumably happened in a vacuum and were not thought to impact a person’s physical health or well-being.
Aches, pains, and tension headaches were simply treated as medical conditions without considering that their origin could be linked to emotions.
Today, however, the mind-body connection is better understood by health professionals and treated in more holistic ways. Rather than focusing solely on a medical explanation for ailments, professionals now use the connection between the mind and body in practice — even for more complicated ailments like high-blood pressure and ulcers.
How the Mind-Body Connection Works
As an individual experiences certain mental states, the chemicals processed by the brain affect biological functioning through the chemicals we know as hormones. These exchanges can either lead to healthy outcomes or to the development of disease.
Since this connection is available throughout our entire life cycle, it’s important to note significant experiences that can happen during each major life stage. These events could lead to the disruption of the mind-body connection so it’s essential to find ways to keep the connection healthy.
Tips For Keeping A Healthy Connection In Every Life-Stage
Each individual experiences the mind-body connection differently. We’re all exposed to a unique set of circumstances as we move through each stage of life.
Having said this, there are coping strategies we can all take advantage of. A few common coping strategies for any stage are moderate exercise, healthy eating, and taking care of your mental health. That being said, let’s look more closely at each stage of life and consider particular instances that may occur. This helps us identify healthy strategies that can help us to cope and strengthen the mind-body connection.
From the time an infant is born, environmental factors like their family of origin or the country they’re born in can have a large impact on the mind-body connection of a child.
For example, if a child is adopted they might feel uncertain or distrusting. This can lead to stress and even chronic illness. If the adoptive family turns out to be trustworthy and loving, the stress felt by this child can diminish over time; it’s often replaced by healthy coping strategies and positive feelings.
Healthy strategies to cope in childhood can include:
- A strong support system
- Healthy modeling of behaviour from adults
- Ability to self-soothe in stressful situations
- Having the chance to play and learn about the world on their own
Teenage years can be the most tumultuous ones for many people. This is the stage of life where many questions arise about the world, relationships, sexuality, gender, and so much more.
On top of trying to figure out their place in the world, teenagers are going through the process of puberty and experiencing the ebbs and flows of hormones as they progress towards early adulthood.
The stress of puberty alone can have significantly negative impacts on the mind-body connection. That’s alongside other changes that may be happening with family, relationships, or existential questioning.
Healthy strategies to cope in adolescence can include:
- A strong support system of peers and adults
- Seeking professional help from health or mental health professionals
- Safe experimentation with their bodies and the world
- Reflective questioning about themselves and the world
As a young person finally reaches maturity and enters adulthood, new responsibilities and questions can emerge.
Rather than feeling accomplished and understanding our place in the world, many of us feel a little lost. The stress of relationships, finances and careers can be overwhelming. Not to mention everything we must consider when starting a family.
Healthy strategies to cope in adulthood can include:
- A strong support system
- Ongoing professional help from doctors or specialists
- Mindfulness practices that help to slow down a busy life
- Discovering (and rediscovering) purpose and goals in life
Reflecting on experiences an individual has throughout their lifetime can undoubtedly help them avoid repeating mistakes of the past. We understand our own life lessons and can use them to better ourselves.
Many people experience a loss of self in late adulthood, which can lead to greater instances of mental health concerns like depression.
Yet, the mind-body connection can be quite strong in late adulthood, especially with ongoing strategies that help to strengthen this connection and defend against stress.
Healthy strategies to cope in late adulthood can include:
- A strong support system
- Strengthen the mind with new learning, socializing and brain games
- Reinvigorating the concept of ‘play’ with the aim to experience of the world through the lens of wonder and curiosity
Consider your own mind-body connection and the stage of life you are currently going through.
How can you strengthen your own connection and increase your own healthy strategies that can help you to cope through the inevitable difficulties we as humans can face throughout our life?
Create your own list of strategies or talk to a trusted friend or family member about strengthening the support you give to one another.
Please note: This article does not contain healthcare or therapeutic advice. If you are concerned about your health or well-being, speak with a health professional or visit your nearest medical facility in an emergency.