Physical and emotional pain are linked to the same part of our brains, so it is no surprise that chronic physical pain can trigger things like depression and our emotional struggles can cause physical illness or prevent us from healing. This is where mind-body medicine comes in. While this concept is nothing new in Eastern medicine, having been practiced for thousands of years, it is just in recent years becoming more widely accepted and acknowledged in Western medicine.
Energy healing techniques like reiki and acupuncture have been staples in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. The Chinese discovered energy meridians that flow through our bodies over 5,000 years ago and have developed their healing practices to keep these energies in balance in order to achieve optimal health.
If you are not ready to fully embrace the ways of Eastern medicine just yet, there are still ways that you can help balance both your mind and your body to achieve wellness. Whether you are looking to reduce emotional stress or physical pain, these simple strategies below can help.
Practicing deep breathing can actually shift your autonomic nervous system from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest & recovery), which puts your body into a state of relaxation.
Massage is so much more than just “pampering” yourself. There are actual physical and emotional benefits to be gained from it. Massage helps to reduce stress by stimulating the release of endorphins, which cause relaxation as well as reduce the levels of “stress chemicals” like cortisol in the body.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
This is an amazing healing tool that combines the physical benefits of acupuncture with the emotional benefits of therapy. It involves gentle tapping along the energy meridians of the head and torso while saying a positive affirmation aloud. It helps to clear any “emotional blockages” and rebalance your energy circuits.
Next time you’re feeling anxious or overstressed, trying turning on some tunes. Listening to music is a huge part of many peoples’ lives. It can help to calm your nerves, pump you up at the gym or help you just get lost in the moment. But there is actual science behind why so many people turn to music to de-stress. Music actually triggers a part of your brain that releases dopamine, a well-known “feel good” chemical in the brain. Different styles of music induce different reactions in everyone, so only you can determine what type of music is right to help you de-stress.
Meditation can reduce brain activity in the somatosensory cortex of the brain, an area that helps form the feeling of where and how intense a pain is perceived. By doing so, people have documented a reduction in their pain sensations. This is also a great stress reliever as well.
Not ready for some of the more ‘Eastern’ techniques? This one is for you! Simply laughing releases endorphins that activate brain receptors that cause euphoria-like feelings and decrease pain sensation.
Getting a massage can greatly reduce pain by relaxing any injured or overused muscles and by increasing joint flexibility, which can provide relief for those struggling with arthritis pain. Massage also increases circulation, or blood flow, and stimulates the lymphatic system, helping to flush out toxins.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
As explained above, EFT is used to help clear any emotional blockages you have within you. The belief is that these blockages are what are preventing people from achieving balance and being able to fully heal, whether it be emotionally or physically from an injury or ailment.
As you can see, a lot of these strategies can have an impact on both physical and emotional stressors. There’s that whole “mind-body” thing again that I was talking about! Whether you’re ready to try something more Eastern in nature like reiki or acupuncture or EFT, or you want to take it slow and try out a massage and maybe just making it a point to find the humor in things and laugh a little more, by becoming aware of these connections with your body and mind and it’s impact on your well-being, you can become empowered to better achieve optimal health in your everyday life.