Mind-body practices are methods and therapies that aim to connect the body with the mind to help reduce stress and provide other health benefits. People who practice and teach mind-body therapies believe in the mind-body connection.
The mind-body connection refers to the mind's ability to potentially impact the body's wellbeing and experiences, both positively and negatively. The mind, in this case, is more than just the brain. It refers to the thoughts, feelings, and mentality a person has toward themselves. It also includes their personal experiences and the world around them.
Stress is known to play a role in the development and progression of many different physical and mental health-related conditions. Decreasing stress may improve overall health.1-3
How can mind-body practices help people with endometriosis?
According to the mind-body connection theory, focusing on having a positive, relaxed attitude and outlook toward a situation may improve physical outcomes. In turn, having a negative outlook and believing in poor outcomes may negatively impact the body. In this sense, a positive, relaxed outlook may decrease stress. This may improve a person's mental, emotional, and physical health.1-4
Some experts believe that pain, including endometriosis-related pain, exists in a cycle with a person's mental health. For example, endometriosis-related pelvic pain may lead to anxiety or depression. Anxiety and depression, in turn, can increase a person's physical pain. This cycle can continue to loop, and both pain and feelings of anxiety or depression can keep worsening. Halting this cycle and using mind-body practices may help break this loop.1-4
Improving a person's outlook on life may also help them better cope with other symptoms that arise. Some mind-body practices involve mindful movement, such as yoga and tai chi. These help reduce stress and relax muscles, which may decrease pain. Few studies have explored the impact of mind-body practices on endometriosis-related symptoms. More research needs to be done to better understand this possible link. However, results thus far have shown that mind-body practices may improve a person's overall quality of life.5-7
Examples of mind-body practices
Mind-body practices can take on many forms, including:2,8
- Meditation – A practice that involves focusing the mind. Many forms of meditation involve sitting quietly and alone. Meditation can also occur during prayer. While it is regularly used in some religions, it does not have to be a religious practice. Meditation may also take the form of using guided imagery. Guided imagery relies on the imagination to picture different relaxing situations or locations. The guiding can come from an in-person guide, tapes, or videos.
- Mindfulness – Mindfulness is often considered a type of meditation. However, it does not always have to take place alone or in 1 place. Mindfulness can happen at any time or anywhere. It involves being aware and present in each moment. The mind can go on autopilot during routine events, such as driving to work or watching TV. Making an effort in these moments to be present and taking special care to notice the things going on around you is considered practicing mindfulness.
- Yoga, tai chi, and qigong – These practices involve tapping into the mind-body connection via physical movement. They are sometimes called mindful movement. They can each take on many forms and intensities, making them accessible to most people. Mindful movement therapies can be performed at a studio or on your own at home with the help of self-guided videos or recordings.
- Hypnosis – Hypnosis can be performed by a trained professional on a person to induce a trance-like state of deep focus. This focus is generally directed at 1 thought, idea, task, or object. It causes the person experiencing it to have no other distractions. Hypnosis can also be self-guided in some situations.