Mind-Body Practices

Mind-body practices are techniques and therapies that aim to connect the body with the mind to help reduce stress and provide other health benefits. Individuals 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, positively and negatively. The mind, in this case, is more than just the brain. It refers to the thoughts, feelings, and mentality that an individual has toward themselves, 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, and decreasing it may improve overall health.1-3

How might mind-body practices help women with endometriosis?

According to the mind-body connection theory, connecting an individual’s mind and body, and focusing on having a positive, relaxed attitude and outlook toward a situation may improve physical outcomes. Alternatively, having a negative outlook and believing in poor outcomes with the mind, may negatively impact the body. In this sense, a positive, relaxed outlook may decrease stress, and therefore, improve an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Some experts believe that pain, including endometriosis-related pain, exists in a cycle with an individual’s mental health. For example, endometriosis-related pelvic pain may lead to anxiety or depression. Anxiety and depression, in turn, can increase an individual’s physical pain. This cycle can continue to loop, and both pain and feelings of anxiety or depression can keep escalating. Intervening in this cycle and using mind-body practices may help break this loop.1-4

Improving an individual’s outlook on life may also help them better cope with additional symptoms that arise. Furthermore, some mind-body practices involve mindful movement, such as yoga and tai chi. Not only do these help to reduce stress, they also help relax an individual’s muscles, potentially adding to improvements in pain. Few studies have investigated the impact of mind-body practices on endometriosis-related symptoms, and results have trended positively. Much more research needs to be done to further classify this potential relationship, however, outcomes thus far have indicated that mind-body practices may improve a woman’s overall quality of life.5-7

Examples of mind-body practices

Mind-body practices can take on a variety of forms. Common examples of mind-body practices include, but are not limited to:

  • Meditation: A practice that involves focusing the mind. Many forms of meditation involve sitting quietly and alone. Meditation can also occur during prayer, and although it is used regularly 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 doesn’t always have to take place alone or in one place. Mindfulness can happen at any time or anywhere, and 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 aware and present, and taking special care to notice the things that are 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, and are sometimes called mindful movement. They can each take on varying forms and intensities, making them accessible to many individuals. 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 an individual in order to induce a trance-like state of deep focus. This focus is generally directed at one thought, idea, task, or object, and it causes the individual experiencing it to have no other distractions. Hypnosis can also be self-guided in some situations.2,8
Written by: Casey Hribar | Last reviewed: June 2018
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