Improving mental and emotional well-being will also prevent many of the physical illnesses that we have today. When we are depressed, have anxiety or stressed it shows in our bodies, it is a warning sign to make a change. The body cannot continue under these current conditions. Clinical psychologists have long recognized that there are psychological consequences associated with ill health. (Poole, Hunt Matheson, & Cox, 2005, p. 3)
There is a lack of attention to addressing illness at the mental and vital energy layers as the allopathic medicine system can only address issues once they manifest in the physical layer. It is suggested that emotional conflicts result in physiological systems. Probably the most well- known example of this relationship between the psychological conflict and the physical symptoms is the understanding that essential hypertension (high blood pressure) is connected to an inability to express feelings of anger in appropriate manner. (Poole et al., 2005, p. 4)
There was an interesting study that was done for children around exam time. (Glaser et al., 1993) Psychoneuroimmunology is where the child who is less stressed is aiding their immune system to function or to ward off any viruses or illness.
Daily practice of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness all contribute to help the immune system stay functioning. Studies show that depression increases mortality risk regardless of their age or sex. A more positive mood each day will have a direct impact on our health. Shekelle et al. (1981) found that clinical depression was linked to those that died of cancer. Interestingly it was noted from my study that independence of depression is related to decreased survival rates among younger people that have cancer. (Schulz et al., 1996) (Poole et al., 2005, p. 75) Depression and other negative mood states are related to increased risk of contracting cancer and of dying from it once contracted.
Indeed, childhood is an intense period of physical, emotional, social, and intellectual growth. Often when confronted with these stressors the body’s sympathetic nervous system is triggered, resulting in an elevated heart rate and blood pressure which, over time, contributes to a lowered immune system, low self-esteem, depression, and isolation.
Research has shown that school curriculums incorporating stress management programs improve academic performance, self-esteem, classroom behaviors, concentration, and emotional balance. In addition, there is a decrease in helplessness, aggression, and behavioral problems of students. (Henningsen, n.d) The idea that children are under stress is not a new idea, the latest research work showed a clear increase in stress consequences for younger children related to experience, behaviour and health (among other things, fear to fail and psychosomatic disorders). (Stuck & Gloeckner, 2003) Yet we are still experiencing the same issues 14 years later even though it is killing us as a nation. Our body’s physiological responses to stress may be adaptive in the face of the stressor but in the long run, they compromise our immune system. (Poole et al., 2005, p. 70)
Being stressed also results in us making food choices that are less likely to support our health. (Willenbring, Lyvine & Morley 1986) We know that if we move the physical body and we eat healthy we can maintain a good BMI which supports the well-being of the child and the parent. One of the largest health problems we have is obesity and it is ever growing in children. Interestingly education about prevention of obesity comes too late and treatment is required. (Poole, Hunt Matheson, & Cox, 2005, p. 248)
The social behaviors of children have changed over the years and we now see more children parked in front of the television and computer screens rather than playing outside.
Movement and physical education has taken a back seat in the education system and had to give way to the academic requirements and pressures – even though we have research showing children that do more physical studies get better academic results.
While yoga is often perceived as a passive activity, in reality it is extremely engaging. It is physical, yet safe, and encourages healthy and balanced living. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical (AAP) Education, yoga provides learning experiences in all major focus areas of a physically educated and active person. Thus, actively engaging in yoga on a regular basis is one way to strive toward the AAP’s activity requirements and help children remain within a healthy weight range. (Henningsen, n.d.)
If we model children from an early age, we can avoid such issues. Doing weight bearing exercise can also avoid conditions such as osteoporosis or brittle bones. Yoga is focused on supporting our own body weight and is excellent for the prevention of osteoporosis.
The physical aspects of our bodies are clearly linked to our emotional and mental well- being. In order for us to stay healthy physically, we must improve mental and emotional health. This is a prevention and a necessary part of whole health. The cost to our NHS is increasing and these areas of healthy such as obesity, depression, anxiety can be avoided if we have the correct tools such as mind body medicine
The perceptive reader will already note that many of the techniques of mind – body medicine of a previous chapter is designed to help us grow emotional intelligence, thus emotional intelligent is essential ingredient of good health maintenance and disease control (Goswami, Ph.D., 2004, p. 236)
Dr Kate Bartram Brown