The Mind - Body Connection
Written by Kathryn DePlanque, Ph.D
There is a great deal of literature to support the mind-body connection and the major contribution of stress in the development of disease. Healing is facilitated by the reduction of stress with attention given to the spiritual and emotional development of children and adults. Self - awareness is the key to change.
Being aware of your body and how it reacts to the environment, food choices, lack of sleep, emotional stress factors, as well as positive influences, such as laughter and play is important.
Children in our society today experience more stress at a younger age than in previous generations. They seem to be involved in programmed activities, rather than free play from toddlerhood. Less time is spent with family at the nightly dinner table or in group discussion, and more time is spent watching television or video games.
Self–awareness is less likely to occur among children unless it is encouraged by an adult.
Ongoing communication and support is necessary, especially with children who have chronic diseases. In Hans Selye’s classic book, The Stress of Life, Selye showed that adrenal exhaustion could be caused by emotional tension, such as frustration or suppressed rage. He emphasized the detrimental impact negative emotions have on body chemistry. Without an avenue to release these negative emotions, physical ramifications occur.
Physical conditions, including scleroderma, are aggravated by chronic tension, anxiety, or other negative emotional states of being. Children with any differences or physical challenges seem to deal with more emotional tensions. Therefore, attention to the whole child is essential in supporting children’s health and well-being.
Dr. Norman Cousins’ work has produced evidence that positive emotions play a significant role in the healing process. Specifically, laughter was studied, which improved the immune system in cancer patients.
All children need to be encouraged to see the lighter side of life and be given positive coping skills when challenges occur. Love and time given by parents remain the essential ingredients that a parent may help to provide for their children, no matter what the illness may be.
Children can learn self-hypnosis and visualization techniques that help in the healing process. Meditation can also be as effective in helping children as it is in helping adults. In fact, some children are more open to these alternative methods than adults. Most children are easily brought into the world of fantasy, which aides in the imagery process that assists in natural healing and relaxation techniques are learned by the entire family and are reinforced at home. This is a natural process that requires time spent together in a therapeutic and loving interaction, which is fun as well.
My hope is that more families will consider learning mind – body techniques that will benefit the entire family.
Please keep in mind, this webpage is for your information only.
Please check with your child's physician for any treatments.
For more information on Juvenile Scleroderma, contact:
Juvenile Scleroderma Network, Inc.
1204 W. 13th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731
Tel: (310)519-9511 (Pacific Time)
24 Hour Support Line: 1-866-338-5892 (toll-free)
Speak to another JSD parent for emotional and logistical support
provided by home-based JSD volunteers. For medical advice, please
contact your child's physician.
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