Did you know that an important feedback loop runs between your body and your mind? The parts of the body are individual but not separate, meaning they are interconnected and strongly influence each other. In addiction recovery, this phenomenon is known as the mind-body connection.
Believe it or not, drug and alcohol abuse can negatively impact the mind-body connection and throw it out of balance. This fundamental scientific truth helps us understand the mental health implications of substance use disorder (SUD). Luckily, treatment and recovery provide opportunities to restore that balance. Improving the mind-body connection can help individuals maintain progress in sobriety.
Fact #1. Emotions Are Bodily Experiences
Many people think of emotions as happening in the mind. While this is not untrue, emotions also affect how the body functions. Intense emotions can trigger bodily reactions. For example, nervousness may cause a fluttering or tightening sensation in the gut and an increased heart rate. On the other hand, feeling relaxed may slow one’s breath and heart rate.
The same is true in reverse. Physical movement can enhance emotional health. For example, try standing tall and proud when one feels anxious or depressed. This posture can manufacture feelings of confidence which may improve the individual’s mental state. For this reason, movement-based experiential therapy often helps lift one’s mood. The mind-body connection can be an effective tool for emotional and physical self-care during recovery.
Fact #2. The Mind-Body Connection Is a Foundation of Addiction Recovery
Many therapies are designed around an understanding of the mind-body connection. Notably, the mind-body connection is a proven scientific concept. Therefore, recovery experts strive to bake mind-body concepts into many treatment programs. For example, since stress management is crucial for relapse prevention, certain physical activities can be used to manage stress responses.
People who develop substance dependency due to pain medications may find that mind-body interventions are essential for alleviating chronic pain. Though certain physical practices are necessary for treating chronic pain, mental and emotional awareness can also be beneficial. In addition, negative or difficult emotional or mental states can exacerbate chronic pain symptoms. For this reason, mind-body interventions can aid those with chronic pain in both the physical and emotional realms.
Fact #3. Stress Connects Brain and Body Responses
To understand the mind-body connection, one must better understand how stressful experiences influence our health. During evolution, the reactive stress response was a necessary survival tactic. This is sometimes referred to as the “fight or flight” response. When threats appear in the environment, an individual’s heart rate and blood pressure may increase due to an increase in stress hormones.
This “fight or flight” response can be helpful in the face of environmental threats. However, in the life of modern individuals living in today’s society, life-or-death scenarios are rare, though the stress response system remains. Though an individual may not be in danger, their body may respond in a heightened way. Stress starts in the mind, but it affects the body and, when not properly managed, can double back and cause further mental health concerns. For example, stress is a significant relapse trigger and can cause recovering individuals to reengage with substances, bringing co-occurring disorders back along with the addiction.
Stress is ubiquitous in modern society. But unfortunately, our bodies aren’t properly programmed to handle today’s low-level, long-term stressors. Stress energy from work deadlines or financial struggles doesn’t decrease quickly, so it remains in the body and influences how the mind processes information.
Fact #4. Holistic Approaches Are Founded on the Mind-Body Connection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), true, holistic well-being integrates mental health—the mind—and physical health—the body. Therefore, addiction recovery should incorporate holistic practices that honor the mind-body connection for the best chance of lasting recovery.
Many health professionals emphasize that a person’s overall health includes physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral aspects. Holistic approaches to addiction recovery treat each aspect simultaneously. After all, humans are more than just the sum of individual parts; those connections must be honored and used to the best advantage.
Fact #5. Behavioral Therapies Are Mind-Body Therapies
The most common addiction recovery methods include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT). Both are rooted in the scientific theory of the mind-body connection. For example, CBT assumes that individuals’ thoughts and beliefs influence their behavior. When individuals correct maladaptive thought patterns, their behaviors may change. DBT is similar and is suitable for treating people with a history of personality disorders or suicidal attempts.
Both these methods help improve emotional regulation and minimize stress responses to unrealistic threats. When combined with holistic approaches, including meditation, yoga, breathwork, and mindfulness, individuals can experience optimal treatment outcomes.
The importance of mind-body connection is never to be underestimated for long-term relapse prevention. People who practice self-care by focusing on mind-body relaxation can translate this awareness to a more successful recovery process and overall wellness.
Did you know that the mind-body connection works through the feedback loop between your body and your mind? The mind-body connection is the communication between your emotions and your body. This explains why what you feel influences the way that you think and vice versa. Laguna Shores Recovery advocates for a holistic approach to addiction treatment that addresses both mind and body for whole-person healing. Here, our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff understand the science behind emotional health, mental health, and long-term recovery. We apply evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated approach to recovery. We will walk alongside you to offer support and guidance. Our aftercare programs connect you with a community of recovering individuals. Call us today to discover how you can be part of our community. You will not regret this choice. For more information on our programs, call (954) 329-1118 today.