An Introduction to the Connection Between Physical and Mental Health

The connection between physical and mental health

So much attention is paid to physical health in our country and too often mental health gets left behind. In truth, our physical and mental beings are interconnected to such a fine degree, that treating one without the other may be futile.

Many physicians and wellness professionals believe that nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. When the body and the mind are in sync, our life is in balance. When the mind and the body are out of sync, our emotional and physical well-being may very well be at risk. These two systems are so interrelated that one glitch in our mental health can cause a physical cascade, and one glitch in our physical health can lead to mental health problems.

For example, thyroid disorders are notorious for causing anxiety and depression, and after a heart attack, many people experience prolonged depression. But the mind-body connection eclipses these two examples. Emotional upset including chronic stress is linked to an increased risk for many life-changing diseases and disorders including heart disease, diabetes, various autoimmune diseases, certain types of cancer, obesity, and so much more.

The reason? When we feel stressed, our bodies produce and release hormones to aid in the fight.

For example, when we are angry, our body’s chemistry physically changes. Anger and fear fuel the body with hormones known as the fight or flight response. Adrenaline courses through our body and we end up in a hyper-state of arousal.1

man holding chest in pain

Health Detriments Over Time

In the long run, too much of these hormones can throw the harmony of our physical and mental health out of balance.  Stress affects us physically by:

  • Altering our internal chemistry
  • Accelerating our heart rate
  • Raising our blood pressure
  • Changing our sleep patterns
  • Altering our gut health

The counterbalance is that when we are filled with joy and peace, our body produces soothing hormones including dopamine and serotonin that help to slow down our body and mind. These happy hormones lower our blood pressure, make stress more manageable, encourage restful sleep, and actually make physical pain more tolerable.

holding hands talking

Placebos and Their Benefits

Do you still need more proof? Let’s chat for a moment about the placebo effect. There is no better proof of the mind-body connection than the placebo effect! Placebos are used in clinical trials for a reason—they are used to determine if a drug works or if participants in the study were just responding to a treatment.2

But now we know that the ritual of taking medicine, even if you know it is a placebo, may still be useful. In a 2014 study conducted by Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, individuals with migraines were divided into three groups to study this hypothesis:

  • Individuals received a drug with the name on the bottle
  • Individuals received a placebo with the word “placebo” on the bottle
  • Individuals received no pills of any type

At the conclusion of the trial, the researchers were surprised that the placebo was 50% as effective as the drug to relieve pain. Professor Kaptchuk surmised that the physical action of taking and swallowing a pill stimulated the brain to ease the migraine pain!

And if our brains can relieve pain without medication just with the power of thought—how much damage are we doing to our health with negative thoughts?

zen diffuser in peoples hand

In Conclusion

It is clear that any health approach that doesn’t take mental well-being into health is bound to fail. Consider how you can make your life more enriching and comfortable to increase your sense of self. And the great thing is, by increasing your sense of self, you’re increasing your ability to not be affected by negative stress! It’s a great relationship! MONQ personal aromatherapy diffusers are also a great way to de-stress and feel better. MONQ Zen is especially great for decreasing anxiety with its calming blend of frankincense, ylang-ylang, and sweet orange. Try today!

Photo credits: jesterpop/, Chaninny/

Savannah W.

By Savannah Wilson

Savannah is an aromatherapy enthusiast who takes pride in knowing everything about essential oils, from ylang-ylang to chamomile. When taking a break from learning more about essential oils, Savannah likes to spend her time reading books or working out.

Favorite MONQ blend: Sexy

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers.

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