The Mind Body Connection

Dec 2, 2014 | blog, Uncategorized

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

These are some wise words from Jim Rohn, one of my favourite motivational guides.

So often, we get caught up in the day, and the hustle and bustle of our very busy lives, and we forget to “stop and smell the roses.” This occasionally makes me wonder if we are truly taking control of our lives, or if we are letting our lives run out of control-especially as we get caught up in the busy holiday season!

Personally, I am just wrapping up a healthy eating and living challenge. I have spent the last 9 weeks trying to create a healthier lifestyle, as well as take some time to myself each day. This was not an easy feat, especially with all the travelling that I did with NASP this fall! However, this challenge forced me to be very organized, and not only plan my meals, but also my entire day. I found that the structure of the challenge enabled me to run my day, and everything progressed very well, even if there were a few minor glitches. Once I got into the groove, it actually made life so much easier. No more wondering at the last minute what was for lunch or dinner! This left more time for other things, such as reading, and research for self-improvement. I spent some time perusing articles on work/life balance, balancing your life, reducing stress, and the importance of taking time for yourself every day.

Two articles from that really caught my attention were, firstly, one about Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS), and second, an artcile about Sleeplessness in Canada. We have all heard about the power of a good night’s sleep, and the repercussions of not getting enough sleep, especially over a long period of time. Our cognitive functions become impaired, our performance suffers, our stress levels increase, and our mood becomes altered. In fact, poor sleep can increase insulin secretions, decreasing the body’s ability to metabolize glucose, meaning that lack of sleep may lead to an increase risk for diabetes and weight gain. If that is not enough to motivate us, susceptibility increases for picking up flues and colds, when your immune system is compromised!

Are you getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night? I am talking about sleep, not just bedtime. If wake in the night, or like to watch a little TV before dozing off, you might want to climb into bed a little earlier, making sure you are refreshed and ready to take on the day. I know that I certainly do.

I have long since known that our bodies respond negatively to repeated levels of stress, and that certain maladies can be caused by stress. I did not realize that there was actually a name for this: Tension Myoneural Syndrome, or TMS. The mind/body connection is very strong, and repressed emotions associated with high levels of stress can lead to chronic problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, back, shoulder or neck pain, or even fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. My take on the article is that strong emotions that are too painful to deal with can trigger the brain to suppress the emotion, by causing pain in other areas of the body. To someone who suppresses extreme emotions, or deals with high levels of stress on a regular basis, this phenomenon makes complete sense. The body has a remarkable capability to heal itself, especially once we have become aware of the situation.

What are you doing to help deal with the stress in your life, and to keep your mind and body healthy? Hobbies are a great way to reduce stress. Vacations and weekends away, helping someone else, becoming involved with charitable organizations, and with good old exercise, are all great ways to reduce stress levels. So, remember, the next time you are stressed, and that back or headache starts, get up and move, and blow off that steam before it compounds and causes health issues.

We know we need to take charge of our lives, get a good night’s sleep, appreciate the good, forget the bad, and generally take better care of ourselves. But- how do you define balanced living? If you truly love what you do, is there anything wrong with working extra hours in the day, or going beyond basic requirements? What makes you sit back at the end of the day and say, “hey- I had a great day today?” We all encompass stress, negativity and hectic lifestyles, so maybe practicing to run our day is a good first step!

-Vicki Malo

Original articles appear on pages 56, and 74-76 of Viva Magazine, Fall 2014