What is Mind-Body Medicine?
According to “Integrative Medicine Principles for Practice” by Dr. Benjamin Kliger and Dr. Roberta Lee, Mind-Body Medicine (MBM) is the interplay of mind, emotions, and physical processes in health and illness, and encompasses a philosophy of care, a body of research, and an approach to therapy.
MBM draws on disciplines from neurobiology, developmental psychology, behavioral medicine, and spiritual healing. The origins of MBM are found in holistic and ancient healing traditions which focus on the unity of mind, body, and spirit.
MBM is an evolving field. Studies by Dr. Herbert Benson, dating back to the 1970’s, focused on the relaxation response. Dr. Benson reported that patients trained in meditation could reduce their impact of stress on blood pressure and other autonomic responses.
The 1980’s saw the beginnings of the self-help movement with millions exploring the use of complementary and alternative therapies. Then, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Office of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (CAM) in 1998. The NIH conducts research and presents scientific evidence on the benefits of using CAM. They also provide insight into how individuals cope with illness and attempt to explain the connection between stress, behavior, and health.
How does MBM relate to our daily lives and how can we benefit
from integrating it into our business practices?
Self-care is our foundation and is essential in decreasing stress. Stress can be defined as the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. This reaction can be physical, mental, or emotional or a combination of all three. Caring for others requires that we are conscious of our own state of health and wellness in order to provide the highest quality care to patients, experience the fruits of our work, maintain longevity in our career, and ensure time spent with family and friends is full of joy and fun.
So, how do we accomplish this? Answering the following questions that assess our stress level and present coping mechanisms is a great place to start.
The Effects of Chronic Stress
The American Medical Association states that “stress is the cause of 80-85% of all human illness and disease or at least has a detrimental effect on our health”. Every week 95 million Americans suffer some kind of stress-related symptom for which they take medication. American businesses lose 200-300 billion dollars per year to stress-related productivity. Ninety percent of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related disorders.
We may not be aware that we are experiencing chronic stress. The negative effects of prolonged stress disrupt the homeostatic balance and set into motion a cascade of responses such as increases in respiratory rate, blood sugar, heart rate, and platelet production. According to Suzanne Little, PHD, the most common physiological response patterns occurring under stress include: autonomic reactivity (anxiety and hypertension), musculoskeletal disorders such as TMJ and tension headaches, and Immune-related disorders such as allergies, infections, and autoimmune diseases.
What We Can Do
There are simple, yet highly effective practices for combating chronic stress. The first is to create a special place inside our homes or somewhere in nature that can be used for daily reflection and grounding. Journaling for five minutes each morning may also release anxiety, stress, and fears that are being held in our thoughts and bodies.
Lastly, the following well-researched tools may also be helpful in lowering stress levels: meditation, guided imagery, emotional freedom technique and a breath practice. These tools can be used in the morning as part of our health and wellness ritual. Powerfully used at breaks and before and after business practices. The tools are intended to release stress, reset your stress level, and empower your overall wellness thereby increasing your energy level and resiliency to life’s daily demands.