When was the last time you enjoyed a quiet mind? Have you found yourself attached to an emotion or thought? Have you noticed that often thoughts and emotions produce physical symptoms? In order to improve the well-being of an individual, we need to view them from a mind-body-soul perspective.
We often have heard “just try taking a deep breath” when stressed. Why? We know that when we take a deep breath it signals to our brain to relax. Focusing on breathing has been found to have positive results on well-being. One way that psychologists teach this technique is through the use of biofeedback. Biofeedback is a form of treatment that teaches individuals to use signals from their body to improve their health. This leads to an awareness into how their minds and bodies work together in response to stress and anxiety. Learning about one’s heart and breathing rates when stressed is an example of how this awareness is achieved. Biofeedback can help many different conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Of equal importance is the awareness of our thought world. Our thoughts can have the capacity to lead to rumination and distortions. There is an interconnection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Often certain thoughts will trigger emotional, physical and behavioral reactions. It makes sense that paying attention to our thoughts and learning how to examine and challenge them are key skills to develop.
For many people, spiritual and religious practices play a significant role in their mental and physical health. This often involves prayer and meditation and a sense of truth and deeper connection. This often includes a social component that promotes the practice of kindness, unconditional love and forgiveness. These practices have been found to alleviate stress which are one of the risk factors for disease.
Cultivating your mind-body-soul connection may seem like a great task! This is already a part of you but the key is to focus on it. Here are some resources to assist you:
Interactive video about mental and physical health from the American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/flash/helpcenter/anatomy/index.aspx
Meditation and Mindfulness App: www.headspace.com
Books: How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman
Dr. Violet Theodos
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Athans and Associates
Behavioral Health Care Consultants
32 Main Street, Park Ridge, IL 60068
About the Author:
Dr. Vickie Theodos is a senior- level licensed clinical psychologist practicing at Athans and Associates for over ten years. She received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology and completed her clinical child psychology internship from The University of Chicago Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Theodos’ interests include family and marital issues, coping with medical illnesses, depression, anxiety, pain management, bereavement, effective parenting, behavioral issues, and working with pediatric patients. Dr. Theodos uses biofeedback to aid in stress-management as well as helping patients with pain. She is an experienced clinician, researcher, and presenter.