Mind-Body Health Connection

What is the mind-body health connection?

Through the mind-body health connection, our thoughts and emotions can play a central role in all aspects of our health. Research shows that by taking care of our psychological well-being we can sometimes prevent medical illness and often speed our recovery when we do get sick.

Whom does it help?

Awareness of the mind-body connection may improve the quality of life of healthy, active people as well as those who have long-term or life-threatening illness. Call the Michigan Psychological Association today at 800.270.9070 to get in touch with a psychologist in your community.

How does the mind-body health connection work?

The mind and body are closely linked, and their relationship can exert a positive influence on health and quality of life. Attitudes, beliefs and emotional states ranging from love and compassion to fear and anger can trigger chain reactions that affect blood chemistry, heart rate and the activity of every cell and organ in the body — from the stomach and digestive tract to the immune system. Emotions can also affect your body's reaction to stresses and strains, which can cause head and backaches and other physical problems.

We can help ourselves stsay healthy by paying attention to our emotional and mental states — including our worries, outlook and moods.

What does improving the mind-body health connection involve?

Many psychological therapies make use of the mind-body connection through stress management, support groups, individual psychotherapy, biofeedback, hypnosis and relaxation techniques. These are designed to improve both emotional and physical well-being. Psychologists often use one or more of these methods to help people live healthy lifestyles and to provide support and guidance to those who are sick.

Treatment that increases the awareness of the mind-body connection can help with:

  • Stress
  • Weight control
  • Smoking cessation
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic pain
  • Fatigue

How can the mind-body connection help me?

The mind-body connection treats the whole person by addressing the stresses we face, particularly when illness occurs. Psychologists use the mind-body connection to work closely with other health care providers to assess the lifestyles, attitudes and family support of those who do become ill. They can help us understand the nature and treatment of our illness and create a plan to help maximize psychological well-being.

Psychologists work with us so that we can be active in our own health care choices and decisions. Awareness of the mind-body connection may be helpful in:

  • Reducing missed time from work
  • Speeding recovery from illness
  • Lessening pain and discomfort
  • Shortening hospital stays
  • Enabling patients and families to better cope with illness
  • Increasing mental alertness and activity