The body’s healing process isn’t entirely physical. Along with eating right, sleeping well, and exercising, there are mental strategies that can boost your potential to heal.
Here are five mental and emotional tactics for maximizing your powers of recuperation.
Reduce Your Pain. Though pain may be a normal part of many conditions, it can interfere with healing by disrupting sleep or causing needless, recovery-delaying stress. If your are in pain, don’t be a hero… you may need some form of relief. It might be natural or medicinal. Ask your health care physician.
Consider Mind-Body Therapies. Meditation, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation are all risk-free treatments that can reduce stress hormones and strengthen the immune system. The essence of simply silencing or focusing the mind for a period of time has extraordinary health benefits. Study after study shows that meditation can be more effective than medication.
Monitor Your Mood. It’s a challenge to be in a good mood all the time… even when you’re well. But how you feel emotionally will have an effect on how you physically heal. So it is important not to give depression or anxiety the upper hand. A 1998 study of dental students at Ohio State University, small wounds that researchers created before a big exam took 40 percent longer to heal than identical wounds created during a summer vacation. Each day plan activities that make you feel good. Calling a good friend, taking a walking, getting a message, spending time with a cherished pet are all activities that can have a significant impact on your emotional health.
Surround Yourself with Love. When you’re not feeling well, it’s easy to withdraw. But people who care about you can help your physical healing with their support. In a study published in 2005, in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers found that when wounds of the same size, shape, and depth were experimentally induced in couples, healing was much faster if the couples were loving toward each other rather than hostile. If you are ill or injured, embrace those who reach out to you. And if you find yourself alone, seek out shoulders to lean on, whether of friends, relatives, colleagues, or a support group.
Tap into Your Spirituality. Daily prayer or reflection can help your body heal. Even if you don’t believe in Divine intervention, the process of quieting your mind and connecting to something greater than yourself can enhance relaxation and the sense of control. This in turn, directly affects blood pressure and other physiologic processes in the body.