The concept that the mind and positive thinking are essential elements to curing disease and achieving wellness dates back to ancient times. Contrary to popular belief, the mind and body are not separate entities but are intricately connected. Treating conditions with that understanding leads to better health outcomes.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine describes mind-body medicine as the focus on:
• The interactions of the brain, body, mind, and behavior, as well as,
• Emotional, mental, social, spiritual, experiential, and behavioral factors.
As the name implies, mind-body medicine addresses the mind and body at the same time. This health practice emphasizes various techniques, such as Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and relaxation techniques. Meditation is also a widespread mind-body practice.
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Benefits of the mind-body approach
Mind-body therapies are shown in clinical settings to address various conditions. As you may be aware, stress can cause various health problems, such as increased heart disease, compromised immune system function, and premature cellular and cognitive aging. In fact, burnout, a result of workplace stress, is now considered an official medical condition, according to the World Health Organization. Mind-body interventions can help minimize psychological stress.
A depressed mood or stress is associated with slow wound healing, so mind-body practices also help reduce pain and aid wound healing. Recent mind-body research is now confirming this observation.
What about obesity? Studies have shown that combining the mind-body practices of meditation with “mindful eating” with proper exercise can help reduce impulse eating, improve hormonal responses, and aid weight control, leading to fat loss.
A brief history of mind-body healing
Hippocrates, who is known as the father of medicine (circa 400 BC). was the first to recognize the moral and spiritual aspects of healing. Hippocrates believed successful treatment happens when a positive attitude intersects with proper environmental factors and natural remedies. Psychological factors have played a considerable role in the prevention, treatment, development, and progression of many diseases for many centuries.
However, conventional medicine approaches health and wellness by addressing the disease state versus the underlying causes of a chronic condition.
Meanwhile, there is substantive evidence demonstrating how mind-body interventions, such as meditation and massage therapy, have ideal effects on positive psychology and increased life quality. Mind-body medicine may be particularly helpful for clients coping with chronic illness and in need of palliative care.
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