Can you recall a time you were hit with an upset stomach that seemingly came out of nowhere and went away just as fast? Or maybe you’ve experienced a rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath. Naturally, these symptoms tend to pop up during stressful times, such as right before a major work presentation, while your in-laws are spending the weekend, or maybe even before a much-anticipated date.
Everyday occurrences like these prove that our emotions and actions are directly linked to our physical health. This is also known as the mind-body connection. There is so much overlap between physical and mental wellness. Looking at the whole person allows us to find additional factors that may contribute to a patient’s condition.
The mind-body connection
It’s not uncommon for physical symptoms to exist even if there’s nothing wrong with the body. We can do a number of tests and they may all come back normal even though the physical evidence suggests otherwise.
But does this mean you can ignore your symptoms if they’re not tied to a physical condition? Not so fast. Stress, anxiety, and other emotional problems can manifest in the body. These issues can result in a lowered immune system, restless nights, and making poor health decisions.
Improving overall wellness
I recommend the following to help improve physical and emotional wellness:
- Make lifestyle changes. Improving your diet, exercising regularly, and getting between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep each night can lead to better health. To help support you in making these changes, Shawnee Mission Health (SMH) offers wellness services and classes.
- Try complementary therapies. These are often recommended to improve overall health and allow the body and mind to heal naturally. Getting regular massages, practicing yoga or tai chi to relieve stress, and even receiving music therapy can all help you feel better. It also helps to build a strong support structure, whether that includes your family, local church or participating in a support group.
- Work with a team. Working with a multidisciplinary team helps treat the whole person. SMH’s approach includes physicians, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, dietitians, social workers and chaplains. Our goal is to actively pursue health rather than only being reactive in treating illness.