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Connecting Mind, Body and Spirit

September 27, 2013


Recently SmartCare’s Behavioral Health Educators, who provide brief support within an environment of integrated behavioral health, reviewed the primary interventions they were providing with their patients and not surprisingly, identified “stress management” as a key intervention.  Whether their patients came to them and/or were referred to them by their health providers for such disparate concerns as smoking cessation, type II diabetes and weight management, substance abuse, high blood pressure, bereavement, anxiety and depression, loss of work, divorce or pain management, the primary focus of intervention they identified with their patients for their course of treatment was “stress management”.

Not that we are advocating a “one size fits all” course of action for our patients, but we are receiving powerful anecdotal feedback, as well as measurable statistics that increasing our patients’ ability to manage stress can have a profound affect in improving overall functioning for many of these physical and behavioral health issues.

As an integrated behavioral health model, we strive to address the mind-body connection, with the goal of assisting our patients to recognize how interconnected mind, body and spirit actually are.

Doctors have pondered the connection between our mental and physical health for centuries. Until the 1800s, most believed that emotions were linked to disease and so their advice to their patients was to prescribe a stay at a spa or seaside resort when they were ill. Gradually this fell out of favor as other causes of illness, such as bacteria or toxins, emerged, and new treatments such as antibiotics cured many illnesses.

However, at the same time, we began rediscovering the links between stress and health. Today, we accept that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect our health.  Over the past 20 years, mind-body medicine has provided evidence that psychological factors can play a major role in illnesses such as cardiovascular disorders, depression and infectious diseases, and that mind-body techniques can aid in their treatment. Clinical trials have also indicated mind-body therapies to be helpful in managing arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. In addition there is evidence they can help to improve psychological functioning and quality of life, and may help to ease the symptoms of many health disorders.

Mind-body medicine focuses on treatments that may promote health, including relaxation, hypnosis, visual imagery, meditation, yoga, and biofeedback.  Whether working individually with patients or with community members in our Wellness Activities, including children, adults and older adults, some of the most well received interventions have included Mindfulness Meditation, guided imagery, gratitude exercises and introduction to yoga.

Even if we aren’t experiencing highly stressful events, most of us experience “low-grade stressors” on an almost daily basis, just due to the nature of our schedules and circumstances, creating unhealthy conditions for the mind and body with lasting consequences.

One of our favorite interventions for stress management is to help others determine which things they do have control over (and how to let go of those they don’t).  You can control your breath, you can learn to control your thoughts (your “inner chatter”), you can choose who you spend time with.  Shannon Kaiser speaks of “stress-busting” foods as a way to master stress.

“When you ‘feel’ stress reduce, in whatever manner works for you, you feel your heart rate calm, your brainwaves organize, your vessels dilating, and your physical and emotional state return to a state of “norm”.  You cannot argue with the benefits of this!

Pamela Sachs, LCSW


2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2014 6:53 pm

    Wow that was strange.I just wrote aan really long comment
    but after I cicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say
    great blog!

  2. August 30, 2014 9:57 am

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