A new year; a fresh start; our annual reminder to leave behind what no longer serves us in pursuit of a brighter, better, sexier lap around the sun.
Though I don’t stand behind the hype of resolutions, I do believe that with the first week of January comes a powerful reminder to reflect on what was, learn from the past, and make changes accordingly.
It’s this idea of checking in with ourselves – of taking a moment to pause, look within, and ask our minds and bodies what they need – that I want to discuss. In particular, I want to address the importance (now more than ever) of understanding the mind-body connection.
In the wake of a year more stressful than most, I began studying the effects of the mind on the body – in particular the effect of stress on the body and its ability to function optimally.
In my readings, I’ve come across a number of doctors and specialists that speak of compelling evidence pointing to the relationship between the brain and the immune system. Specifically, they address the theory than an individual’s emotional makeup and their response to stress is causative in a number of diseases whose sources are still unknown (such ailments include ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc).
In reading various case studies about the emotional nature, stress levels, and coping mechanisms of auto-immune disease patients, I have come to learn that understanding one’s emotions is paramount to discovering not only how to treat, but also how to prevent many diseases. Those teachings have affirmed for me just how important it is to prioritize the management of mental health.
As psychologist Walter Cannon says, there is a wisdom in our bodies, and I believe that tuning ourselves into that wisdom can only propel us forward.
I write this as a reminder not only to take the consequences of stress seriously, but more importantly to check in on the messages our bodies and minds give us, taking the time to nurse our minds the same way we would the break of a bone or the scrape of skin, so that we may ultimately make this upcoming year one for the books!