By Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, HNB-BC
You are probably familiar with the phrase "mind over matter." It is often used when we are trying to persevere over a situation we find difficult. But what if this isn’t just a figure of speech but is actually literal? Well it is!
Science informs us that each thought carries an electrical charge that stimulates neurotransmitters to be released. Neurotransmitters basically carry information from the brain to the nervous system, which leads to a physical response. For example, norepinephrine is a chemical (hormone) released when one is experiencing a stressful situation. This chemical activates the muscles to contract in preparation for what is called the “flight or fight” stress response. Simply meaning that a person either runs from the stressful situation or fights the situation.
Now let’s talk for a moment about stress. Perception is the underlying basis for how we respond to stress. In other words, how we interpret a situation. Our brain responds to what the mind tells it. And the brain then chemically informs our body what to do. No two people will respond exactly the same way to a perceived situation. You have probably wondered how some people can handle stress better than others. The stressor is the same but their perception of it isn’t.
Then there are the stressors that are a little less obvious but that we are bombarded with everyday. Some are related to finance, relationships, work, the environment, social media, or school. On a daily basis, a cascade of stress chemicals charges our body in response to these stressors. Over time, our mental and physical health become compromised. Once we become aware that we are in stress we can take action by either changing how we perceive the situation or removing the situation. Our stress chemistry will change and subsequently relinquish our body from potential negative impact. Mind over matter.
So how do we live less stressful lives and bring more health to our body and mind? Mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness brings our attention to how we are choosing to respond to life experiences. It equips us with the ability to regulate our emotions and the capacity for self-control. This reduces the negative impact on our mind and body. Ultimately leading to a healthier and happier life.
If you plan to make a 2018 New Year’s resolution why not choose developing a mindfulness practice. This is a mind over matter that really matters!
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