Psychosomatic has been known since ancient times, but the mechanism of this phenomenon has remained a mystery for a long time. Recent studies discovered interesting facts that shed light on the nature of psychosomatic and explained what helps us deal with stress.
How the mind is related to the body
Our thoughts originate in the cerebral cortex – the brain structure responsible for the highest mental activity. Hormones that are synthesized in the endocrine glands regulate many body functions, including stress responses. For example, the adrenal glands are responsible for producing adrenaline and norepinephrine. They released into the blood during stress and are responsible for the “hit or run” reaction.
Scientists have previously assumed that some areas of the cortex should control the work of the adrenal glands. But their number and location remained a mystery.
National Academy of Sciences of the United States published a study in 2016 – they found that there is a huge amount of neural connections between the cortex of the cerebral hemispheres and the medulla of the adrenal glands.
According to the new data, the greatest influence comes from the motor areas of the cortex, from the zones responsible for cognitive abilities and the areas that control the state of effect. This allows us to make several useful conclusions.
We can control the effect
In response to stress, various changes occur in our body: heartbeat increases and sweating increases. These changes help the body prepare for action and are part of the “hit or run” reaction. However, in the modern world, such reactions are more likely to hinder: they do not allow concentrating and acting effectively.
The body’s reaction to affect seems unmanageable, but research proves the opposite. Since the network of neurons connects the adrenal glands and areas of the cerebral cortex that are responsible for self-control, we can control our body’s response to stress.
Do not let the emotions and reactions of the body control you. Try different techniques to deal with stress: deep breathing, positive thoughts, concentration on the present moment, meditation.
Yoga and Pilates help fight stress
Scientists have discovered that the motor areas of the cortex, which are responsible for the intention to move and the movement itself, have a significant effect on the medulla of the adrenal glands. One of these areas is the part of the primary motor cortex that controls the axial movement of the body and posture.
This connection explains why bark muscle development exercises help to cope with stress. And why practices like yoga and pilates have a calming effect. They require proper body position, development of coordination, and flexibility. This positively affects the ability to maintain calm and control stress.
Negative memories are stressful
The study also found that areas of the cortex that are activated when we get into a conflict or make a mistake are also associated with the adrenal glands.
Peter Strick suggested that this also extends to imaginary errors. When you remembering your mistake, again and again, blame yourself for past events or recall traumatic events, the cortex sends signals to the adrenal medulla and the body reacts the same way as during real events: adrenaline and norepinephrine are released into the bloodstream.
This proves the benefits of positive thinking for physical and mental health. If there are no negative thoughts – there is no additional stress, which immediately reflects on the state of the body.
Final thoughts on how the mind affects the body and the level of stress
So, new discoveries prove that there is a real connection between the mind and the body. Psychosomatics has the anatomical mechanism. This means we can influence the state of our body with the help of the mind. We also can control the reaction to stress with the help of exercises, meditations, and positive thinking.
Cover photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash