The mind-body connection
The basic idea behind the mind-body connection is that you’ll feel your best when you’re happy, and healthier choices will make you feel good. But when your mind is uneasy or you feel stressed, anxious, or down, your body feels it, too. You may stop exercising, make bad food decisions, or have trouble sleeping. This may make you sick, which could leave you feeling blue and create a vicious cycle for your mental and physical health.
A few examples
Have you ever been scrambling to meet a deadline or plan the perfect event, only to come down with a cold? Think of a time when you didn’t get enough sleep. Didn’t you feel a little down the next day (along with being tired)? Now consider how invigorated you feel after a workout. Or how much clearer your thoughts get after a good meal or a massage.
These are basic examples of the close tie between the body and mind. But long-term exposure to stress has been linked to serious health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and more. And the pain or implications from a chronic illness may cause depression or feelings of sadness. Studies show how a positive attitude may lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life related to heart conditions, cancer diagnoses, diabetes, and other conditions.
I’m in. What can I do?
Self-care can take on many forms. Here are some tips, but look for things that work best for you:
- Schedule preventive care. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re up to date with immunizations, your physical, cancer screenings, or other recommended health screenings. Caring for your body can help put your mind at ease.
- Prioritize “you” time. This could mean reading a book, meditating, doing yoga, listening to music, crafting, or doing anything that brings you joy. Make it a part of your routine.
- Try meal planning. It’s easier to make good food choices when you have healthy snacks and a set menu. Spend some time each weekend to plan ahead and enjoy better-for-you meals throughout the week.
- Have an attitude of gratitude. Keep a journal and write down the good things in your life. Make a list of people you’re thankful for and send them a note to show you care.
- Remember it’s okay to say no. You can’t be everything to everyone – that’s a lot of pressure! Don’t feel badly about turning down someone’s request if you’re feeling overwhelmed. They’ll understand, and you can avoid some unnecessary stress.
Ask for help when you need it
You are not alone. Lean on family members and friends for support. You can also use your health plan’s benefits to help keep you well. Learn more about how your plan supports both your mental health and your physical health. Call Member Services at 1-800-251-7722 (TTY: 711), available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, for information on care management services or with any questions about your benefits and coverage.