Mind-body Connection: Keeping your spirits up for a healthier life

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably already care about taking responsibility for your health and well-being. And you probably know that the connection between mind and body is irrefutable – if we can reduce our stress levels, increase our resilience and find satisfaction in life then our physical health will benefit too.

It seems a bit trite to say that a happier lifestyle will increase the chances of stronger health. How do we actually break this down into achievable steps? If we look at the specific traits or skills that are helpful in developing emotional strength and how to deal with the flip side of corrosive attitudes, then we can start to develop a stepped approach to better health.

Here are some starting points for improving our emotional outlook, with links to specific resources that are free to access online.

These resources are all taken from the mental health and self-help category of the Hepatitis SA online library’s catalogue which has a wealth of easy to access information. Hint: click on the Quick links headings ‘mental health’ or ‘self help’ (under the search box) for comprehensive lists and links to free resources.

…a balanced approach to managing… emotions could strengthen the ability to deal with physical illness and even strengthen our immune system.

Coping with stress, anxiety, depression and grief
Research shows that a balanced approach to managing these emotions could strengthen the ability to deal with physical illness and even strengthen our immune system. Here are some resources to help you start the process:

The Surprising Benefits of Stress (Greater Good Science Centre, Berkeley, 2015): looks at the difference between good stress and bad stress and how to respond to stress in a healthy way

Tips for finding motivation with depression (Medical News Today, Bexhill-on-Sea, 2017): advice and links to source materials about the benefits of physical activity, socialising, avoiding depression triggers, when to see a doctor and when to seek emergency treatment

Get to know anxiety (beyondblue, Melb, 2014): 10 short videos informed by stories and feedback from people who have experienced anxiety. They contain practical information about recognizing and dealing with the various aspects of anxiety

Staying strong through grief and depression (Aboriginal Health Council of SA, Adelaide, various dates): a series of videos about coping with sadness, depression and grief and outlining the importance of connecting with family, friends, music and culture

Drug use, chronic hep C and stress (AIVL, 2013) addresses the unique stresses in the lives of people who inject drugs and gives some lifestyle tips for reducing, or dealing with, stress.

Evaluations of therapies based on meditation and relaxation are overwhelmingly positive…

Relaxing into a stronger life
Evaluations of therapies based on meditation and relaxation are overwhelmingly positive and there are many free reputable meditation sites available – here are some from our catalogue:

Meditation toolkit (ABC Life Matters,Sydney, 2012) includes: explanation of  what meditation is and how to do it, how meditation can improve your health, audio practices of different styles of meditation and a diary to keep you motivated

Meditation on the breath (Hepatitis C Trust, London): a 14 minute audio file intended to increase your ability to relax and enjoy more of your life

Relax and dream: (made in conjunction with Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, UK): Seven short films of nature locations, with original music. The aim is to reduce the stress of modern living.

First aid for your emotions
And for some extra inspiration: have a look at this video by Psychologist Guy Winch: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid (TED talks & Linnaeus University, New York, 2014): “a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene – taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies”*.

…and there’s more…

Of course these are all just ‘tasters’ – starting points for making changes in your own life in whatever way is practical. We have many other useful, free online resources listed in our catalogue (see box above)…and most G.P.s are now able to give advice and referrals to allied health professionals for more tailored support.

*PS: if you like the idea of the TED talks: there’s a whole playlist of ‘what makes you happy?” at: http://bit.ly/tedplaylist_whatmakesyouhappy .

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