= Gabi Kaplan, Laura Diamond, Jenni Diamond, OT Reg. (Ont.), & Evan Cole Lewis, MD =
What is the mind-body connection?
Our mental and conscious states, including our emotions and behaviours, may have the ability to significantly influence our physical health outcomes, and reciprocally, our bodily health can impact our mental well-being.
This is referred to as the “mind-body connection” – the interconnectedness of our minds and bodies through various communication networks between our brain and the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems of our body (1).
How can you use this connection to better your mental and physical health?
In recent years, there has been rising interest in the use and effectiveness of holistic mind-body practices, such as (1, 2):
- Deep breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Group therapy
- Stress-reduction techniques
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
These interventions not only provide psychological benefits, but additionally may play a significant role in mediating our cognitive and physical health (2).
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is one example of a highly effective mind-body practice. MBSR incorporates mindfulness to manage a variety of conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, cancer, and post-concussion syndrome (3). Participating in a MBSR program may increase the volume of important brain structures and improve cognitive functions (2), including:
- Executive functioning
- Stress tolerance
Using mind-body interventions following concussion:
A 2013 pilot study investigated the role of MBSRafter concussion (3). The study found that practicing MSBR led to improved regulation of attention, working memory, quality of life, and ability to cope with the participants’ cognitive and emotional concussion symptoms (3).
The mind-body connection evidently plays an important and dynamic role in regulating both our physical and mental well-being. As research in this emerging field continues, we anticipate many more exciting discoveries of holistic interventions and techniques that can be used to improve our overall health and healing.
Whether it be Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, yoga, or meditation, try giving some of these mind-body practices a try and see the benefits for yourself!
1. Wolinsky, H. (2006). Mind-body research moves towards the mainstream. EMBO Reports, 7(4), 354–358. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.embor.7400670
2. Link, J. S., Barker, T., Serpa, S., Pinjala, M., Oswald, T., & Lashley, L. K. (2016). Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: A Review. Archives of Assessment Psychology, 6(1), 7–32.
3. Azulay, J., Smart, C. M., Mott, T., Cicerone, K. D. (2013). A pilot study examining the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on symptoms of chronic mild traumatic brain injury/postconcussive syndrome. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 28(4):323-31. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e318250ebda.