Today, most of us have heard the phrase mind-body medicine and may have tried different mind-body techniques (relaxation training, meditation, yoga/mindful movement) to improve our health and well-being. A recent article in Time Magazine discussed “The Mindful Revolution,” which is occurring in the US and abroad, and how mindfulness skills are becoming the go-to “stress” antidote for people ranging from Silicon Valley techies to soccer moms to corporate executives. These mind-body health practices, some of which are thousands of years old, have survived because they work and are supported by mind-body medicine research which has shown them to help ease stress and tension, diminish depression and anxiety, improve one’s ability to cope with chronic pain and other health conditions, boost attention and performance, and even help us get a good night’s sleep.
I was first introduced to mind-body health almost 30 years ago by two pioneers in deciphering the mind-body connection in women’s lives and more specifically their reproductive health, Dr. Alice Domar and Dr. Christiane Northrup. Dr. Domar’s book, Healing Mind, Healthy Woman was one of my guideposts along with Dr. Northrup’s Women’s Bodies; Women’s Wisdom. I was just opening a psychotherapy practice in women’s reproductive mental health in St. Louis then and their expertise enabled me to understand the inter-connectedness between hormones, mood, stress, and women’s reproductive mind-body health issues including postpartum depression and anxiety, fertility issues, pregnancy loss, pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, PMS and menopause. They taught that treating women and couples experiencing these conditions with mind-body health techniques (relaxation training, deep breathing and guided imagery) could successfully reduce their dis-stress and suffering, and it did.
Through the use of these skills and counseling, I’ve seen hundreds of women and couples regain their health and reclaim their lives. Although their outcomes were positive, I still felt that something was missing. Then 10 years ago, I learned about mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “paying attention to the present moment on purpose without judgement.” This seemingly simple practice which encompasses multiple mind-body health skills (deep breathing, guided meditation, yoga and walking in nature), has been extremely effective in reducing stress, worry, anxiety, depression and emotional pain for many patients who come to see me for women’s reproductive health concerns including the ongoing challenges and stresses of infertility. It is easy to learn, goes with you wherever you go, and can be practiced during the day without adding anything, i.e. informal practice. If you want to try it, click here for my mindfulness exercises on YouTube.
Also, check out my new and improved website at http://www.drdianesanford.com which Stacey G, my co-author here at livingselfcare, designed for me for additional info on women’s mind-body health, my practice in St. Louis or contacting me about a phone or online consult.