Mind, Body, Spirit and Mental Health

Most of us have heard the phrase, mind, body spirit in one avenue or another but what does it really mean? Some may say that it means that we should give importance to or consider all three aspects in our daily lives because they all matter.   As humans, we all have a mind, a body and a spirit, therefore we should pay attention to and nurture each. This is true but there is more. Our mind, body and spirit are interconnected within our being and cannot be separated from one another. When I think of this, I visualize a venn diagram where each aspect overlaps at some point and cannot be separated without taking out a part of the others. It is not a secret to know that having a physical illness or possibly losing a physical function can lead to depression. Chronic illness can lead to chronic depression. The ways that anxiety is manifested in the body can cause gastrointestinal distress along with increased cortisol levels leading to increased heart rate and sometimes even heart disease.  

The mind is a fascinating and powerful component of ourselves.  The brain makes it possible for our mind to function but is not in itself our mind. The mind is capable of independent thought, learning new information and utilizing learned information for new experiences along with assigning meaning to experiences.  In short, the mind has more power and control over the physical body than most realize. Picture standing in line for a terrifying ride at the amusement park and as you wait you feel the anticipatory anxiety in your body. Heart rate increases, palms might get sweaty and breathing is more rapid. Your friend or family member decides they do not want to ride after all and you both decide to go a different direction. You experience immediate relief in your body as the heart rate returns to normal and there is a general sense of calm and normalcy again.  The only thing that has changed is what the mind is focusing on. It’s that powerful. The spirit, however, shows up in how we feel about ourselves, others, or a situation and presents as our affect or mood. While waiting in line for this ride and feeling anticipatory anxiety, are you pleasant, talkative and engaged or are you unusually quiet, grumpy or negative? How one is feeling and relating to others is an aspect of the spirit that has been affected by your thoughts/mind and physical symptoms experienced in the body.   Imagine this example: You are standing in line for a coffee and there is a parent with a young child next to you.  The child is crying and irrational as the parent tries to console and occupy him in order to get through the line. The parent turns to you and says, “I am so sorry it is nap time and he is cranky.”  The toddler has a mind and spirit/mood reaction to a physical need not being met- sleep. If you find yourself feeling unusually down or anxious, the first thing to consider is to examine how you are caring for yourself physically.  Sleep, nutrition and exercise are all components to evaluate along with substance usage. The health and care of our physical body directly affects the other two components, the mind and the spirit.  Some people benefit from professional help in the area of truly being able to evaluate themselves within these interconnected areas to determine a plan of action for feeling better. If you or a loved one struggles with difficult moods, uncomfortable anxiety, lack of motivation or symptoms of depression, please contact us today for an initial evaluation at 214 919-7177 or schedule@brightwaycounseling.com