Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

Why Use These Therapies?

Have a headache? Stop and take stock. Did you just battle traffic, skip lunch to meet a tricky deadline, or quarrel with your spouse? Could these situations be contributing to your pain? How can you ease these hassles next time? And before you pop that aspirin, what about trying some deep breathing, or exercise, or meditation?

Paying attention to and exerting some control over your emotional and mental states—anxiety, anger, pessimism, and depression—may help you stay healthy, reduce the severity or frequency of symptoms, or recover more rapidly from illness.

How do mind-body therapies prevent disease?

Mind-body therapies and practices can help prevent stress. This is extremely important because research clearly shows that prolonged stress contributes to serious diseases such as high blood pressure, heart irregularities, anxiety, insomnia, persistent fatigue, digestive disorders, mental health issues, diminished fertility, and diabetes.

Stress also suppresses your immune system, which makes you more likely to get new diseases and experience reoccurrences of previous diseases.

How do mind-body therapies help manage symptoms?

Pregnant woman doing yogaMind-body therapies and practices can impact the way you experience symptoms. For example, the experience of pain can be radically transformed with mind-body therapies and practices. Any mother who has used mindful breathing during labor and delivery can tell you this. So can any child whose attention was diverted from a medical procedure by a story, a clown, or the simple presence of a caring parent.

Mind-body practices can foster a sense of control, enhance optimism, or provide social support that improve the quality of life or just allow you to cope better with symptoms.

For example, two people may have a similar arthritis condition. Person A is almost incapacitated, while Person B is functioning fairly well. Why? In part, it may be because of Person B's take-charge attitude about her disease, her strong support system, or the conscious steps she's taken to minimize stress in her life.

How can mind-body therapies help with treatment?

Mind-body therapies and practices can help treatment by facilitating the body's power to heal itself.

Research shows that mind-body therapies and practices can impact the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce damaging stress hormones, and reduce the need for some medications.

What's the bottom line?

In addition to the clear benefits listed above, mind-body therapies and practices are central to health in a fundamental way-they emphasize our capacity to use self-awareness and a variety of approaches to help ourselves physically and psychologically.

Equally if not more importantly, they increase our overall wellbeing. Many people find these improve their relationships, help them avoid "sweating the small stuff," or just make them feel happier!

Expert Contributor: 
Patricia Hart, MD

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