Substance Use and the Mind-Body Connection

The mind-body connection is simply the feedback your body gives your mind and your mind gives your body on a daily basis. It’s a continuous loop that constantly supplies feedback and insight. Without it, we wouldn’t get the “gut feeling” we all get that leaves us thinking and feeling on a physical level when things are wrong. But the “gut feeling” isn’t all. Understanding your thoughts and feelings can help with mental health and substance use issues. The nonstop feedback loop of mind-body has a lot of influence on our everyday lives. Mostly, we don’t recognize that this loop is occurring. It just naturally occurs. But, it is absolutely powerful. 

The mind-body connection is used in addiction treatment. That’s because our thoughts and actions influence the way we feel. In addiction treatment this connection relies on mindfulness, which is about being fully aware: aware of ourselves, aware of our surroundings, and aware of the role we play. 

The mind-body connection is constantly communicating two things: your thoughts and your feelings. Feelings don’t exist only in our minds, they exist in our bodies as well. There is a physical sensation to what we feel. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the feeling of nervousness. We feel nervous when something bad happens or when we think something bad is going to happen. In our minds we feel anxiety, maybe a little sadness or hurt, but in our bodies we feel something too. The feeling usually exists in your gut. We can call this one of the body’s natural “gut feelings.” You might feel your heart rate go up. Your posture suddenly changes from open and tall to closed off and panicked. Feelings are physical sensations and they are visibly present on the body. We can see and feel when people are panicked. We can see, feel, and sense when we have panic in ourselves. The rest of this article will explore the mind-body connection and how it relates to a person’s mental health. We’ll also draw some important facts about how thoughts and feelings can be harnessed to help a person manage substance abuse and addiction. The mind and body are powerful, especially when used together. 

What You Feel Influences Your Thoughts 

What are some of the thoughts you have when you’re feeling nervous? You probably think nonstop about the thoughts that are making you nervous. You may also begin to think bad things about yourself: I’m not good enough, I’m a bad person. Now, what are some of the thoughts you have when you feel confident? Maybe you think about how good you look or how successful you are. What are the big differences between the two? What are the differences in those thoughts? Which thoughts would you consider negative and which thoughts are positive? When you’re nervous do you feel physically weak? Do you think of yourself as endangered or at risk? When you’re feeling powerful and resilient, the thoughts in your head often reflect that. The same thing happens when you’re feeling sad and upset. Your thoughts translate into how you feel. But, did you know it can work the other way too? If you’re feeling upset but you WANT to feel confident and in control there are things you can do to engage the mind-body connection for your benefit. For example, try standing tall and proud when you’re feeling down. This physical act will make you feel as though you ARE tall and proud. If you’re feeling sad, don’t frown. Instead, smile, smile, smile. Before you know it you will feel happy. Smiling and laughing make a person feel happy, so you can trick yourself into the feeling. You can actually change the state of your mind. This is true and it plays an important role in mental health and substance use disorder. You can use the mind-body connection to improve your overall health and wellbeing. By using the power of positive thoughts and positive affirming actions, you can change your outcome. It’s actually pretty simple. It just takes some practice but before you know it you’ll feel better and BE better. 

The Mind-Body Connection: Why Is it Important? 

The body has an undeniable influence on the mind, and vice versa. That’s why the mind-body connection is important for mental health and addiction recovery. Many addiction treatment programs today have activities dedicated to the mind-body connection. They understand that by treating the body they are also treating the mind. By introducing these concepts into a normal recovery program, you have better access to recovery tools that will help throughout life. The mind-body connection can have a profound impact on substance abuse recovery. That impact is evidenced in the following concepts, which use mindfulness and the mind-body connection as their central idea. 

  • Identifying triggers
  • Preventing relapse 
  • Improving overall quality of life
  • Improving success 
  • Managing stress response and anger

How Can the Mind-Body Connection Help with Substance Use and Abuse? 

The mind-body connection is great for a person’s mental health, but did you also know it’s great for helping a person with substance abuse issues? When you recognize that there is a connection, life will never be the same. Suddenly, being happier is much easier. Remember, the mind and body aren’t two separate things. Instead, they work in tandem to bring a person’s thoughts and feelings together on a holistic level. If you want to recover from mental health issues or substance use, employing these strategies is a great step. 

One great way to use the mind-body connection to help with substance abuse is to acknowledge that it can help greatly with chronic pain. That’s because chronic pain has physical and mental triggers. At the same time, chronic pain is a great indicator of how the mind-body connection truly influences everything. Chronic pain won’t simply start or stop by employing the mind-body connection, but action can make chronic pain either better or worse. Holistic approaches to drug addiction treatment can also help in these ways: 

  • By helping you to identify negative beliefs and thought patterns 
  • By helping you manage big emotions 
  • By helping you recognize maladaptive coping skills
  • By helping you positively deal with and tolerate stress
  • By helping you focus on mind-body therapies 

Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is very helpful. When used consistently it can actually help your central nervous system repair itself by affirming positive beliefs and letting go of negative thoughts, feelings, and processes. This therapy works because your thoughts and beliefs are what influence your behaviors. If you change negative and harmful thoughts to positive and helpful ones, your life will be greatly influenced. When you use these holistic approaches to mental health and substance abuse, success is on the horizon. Use CBT with other actions and therapies like:

Daily Use of the Mind-Body Connection 

Did you know you can improve the mind-body connection with daily practice? It’s true and it works. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR) is one such practice that can help improve the way the body and mind work together for your benefit. There are certain other practices you can put in place that help as well. Here they are:

In Conclusion 

By practicing holistic health and wellness you’ll improve the mind-body connection and improve your life overall. This practice will have a great effect on your daily life, especially if you use it on a daily basis. Just like starting a daily exercise and diet program, mindfulness will get you looking and feeling better. Your body will be stronger, more streamlined, and healthier – and your mind will do. Dedicate time and energy to understanding and achieving a healthy mind-body connection and watch as your life improves day by day. 

Virtual Treatment Center: Who Are We? 

At Virtual Treatment Center, we believe quality addiction recovery and mental health services should be easily accessible to those that want or need them, because ease of accessibility is what most often leads to success. That’s why we’re committed to providing top-tier virtual mental health teletherapy and addiction recovery services to all residents of California. Although we’re located in Orange County, our online teletherapy can be accessed throughout the state. In addition to providing addiction recovery services, we treat a variety of mental health issues and offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT),Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Our teletherapy sessions are done via two-way, live interactive video or by telephone. Therapeutic visits are conducted on Zoom most often, or on other virtual platforms that adhere to HIPAA compliance requirements.