What is Mind-body Psychology?

What is Mind-body Psychology?

Mind-body psychology, also known as psychophysiology or biopsychology, is a field of study that explores the complex interactions between the mind (mental processes and emotions) and the body (physiological functions and bodily responses). It examines how psychological factors can influence physical health and how bodily processes can, in turn, affect mental well-being.

The fundamental principle of mind-body psychology is that the mind and body are interconnected and constantly interact with each other. This means that our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can have a significant impact on our physical health and vice versa. For example:

Psychological factors affecting physical health: Stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional states can influence the immune system, cardiovascular health, and other physiological functions. Chronic stress, for instance, may weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility to illnesses.

Physical factors affecting mental well-being: Physical health conditions, chronic pain, or hormonal imbalances can impact mood, cognition, and overall mental health. For example, some medical conditions may contribute to symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Mind-body psychologists study these connections to better understand the role of psychological and physiological factors in overall health and well-being. They employ various research methodologies, including laboratory experiments, observational studies, and clinical trials.

The field also explores the use of mind-body interventions to promote health and treat certain medical conditions. Mind-body interventions include practices like mindfulness meditation, biofeedback, yoga, and relaxation techniques. These approaches aim to harness the power of the mind-body connection to improve health outcomes and enhance overall quality of life.

Mind-body psychology plays a significant role in integrative medicine, where conventional medical practices are combined with complementary and alternative therapies to provide a more holistic approach to healthcare. The recognition of the mind-body connection has led to a growing interest in psychosomatic medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, and other related disciplines.

Want to continue learning more about the mind-body connection? 

Check one this article on: psychologytoday.com

Self Care: The Whys and Hows

Self Care: The Whys and Hows

We’ve all heard the directions for the oxygen mask on the airplane, right? Before takeoff, the flight attendants remind you that you have to put your mask on before you help others with theirs. So it goes with the concept of self care: We have to help ourselves first, otherwise we can’t truly be of assistance to anyone else. 

But what happens when life happens? When parent guilt sets in because we feel we haven’t spent enough time with our kids? When we are experiencing grief, trauma, anxiety, or overwhelm?  Or – perhaps most commonly – when we are just “too busy?” 

More often than not, it seems that when life happens, self-care doesn’t. 

To define the term, self-care is taking care of ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually. And there is good reason to engage in self-care:  Research suggests that self-care can help us manage stress, increase our resilience, and even live longer.

Self care is also important in our relationships. Psychology Today notes that, “It’s essential that parents care for themselves…When parents “fill their own cups,” they have more patience, energy, and passion to spread to their families.” Likewise with other relationships in our lives. Practicing self-care can “minimize the effects of burnout, including depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and stress perception.”

But how do you do self-care? See below for some practical ways to nurture yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and be sure to check out the links at the bottom too for additional ideas.

Physical Health: The mind-body connection is an important one to consider. When the body feels good, the mind does too. Self care strategies to increase physical health include exercise, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and eating nutritious meals that feed both your body and your brain.

Mental Health: MBHA’s Holly Dunn says she takes care of her mental health by, “Bringing myself back into the present when my thoughts get too future focused/worried or past focused/regretful or ruminative, doing my best to refocus back to what is within my control when I am over-focusing on others/things that annoy me, and letting go of the illusion I have control over anyone/anything but myself.”

Spiritual Health: Care for yourself spiritually by journaling, practicing meditation, or praying. And don’t forget to practice kindness and compassion, especially with yourself. 

The flight attendants tell us in simple terms: your oxygen mask has to go on first. So take a deep breath and commit to your own self-care practice. Remember, the paradox of self care is that ultimately you are doing it for others.

*You can find more ideas for self-care on these websites:







Practice Makes Present

Practice Makes Present

Open HandsLetting go is a lifetime practice but often feels very cerebral. “Easier said than done,” we might say. So if you’re practicing an attitude of release, here are a few things to support your practice.

  1. Focus on your exhale. Notice what it feels like to release the breath. Take your time exhaling, putting a brief pause at the bottom of the breath. Notice the space you have to begin to take in the next inhale.

  2. Practice the mantra: This no longer serves me.

  3. Use your hands. When sitting in meditation or prayer, or even just to begin a meeting or other daily activity, pause and uncurl your fingers from your fists. Take a moment to let your body come into a pose of non-grasping so that you can receive.

  4. Sit with it. Perhaps the best way to let go is to sit with the feelings you have around what you need to release.

  5. Write yourself a permission note. It’s okay to make a decision and release yourself of guilt and shame.

The Beginning of Knowledge

The Beginning of Knowledge

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

Jon Kabat Zinn uses the concept of the Beginner’s Mind in his 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness. This way of thinking asks a person to come into a situation without assumptions or expectations, and it’s the posture for true learning. The Beginner’s Mind allows for “I don’t know yet” and frees you to listen deeply before making any decisions or judgments. 

Practicing the Beginner’s Mind is essential because it’s not natural to our brain’s protective wiring. If you have ever researched buying a new car, you may have experienced that suddenly every car you see on the road is the car you’re considering. The world did not suddenly produce more Honda Odysseys once you decided you wanted one, but rather your brain picks up on that information, positive or negative, and associates it with the information it’s currently processing. We do this – pick up information and associate it with our daily experiences, beliefs, and behaviors – because the mind tends to be dualistic, categorizing things into good/bad, safe/unsafe, and other groups. 

The Beginner’s Mind asks us to momentarily set aside what we already know for the opportunity to learn something new about our present situation. 

Over the past several months, the Beginner’s Mind has been one of our best friends. Taking such an approach, we can offer ourselves grace. The Beginner’s Mind reminds us we’ve never been here before. This is new. And there is always something to learn from newness. 

Parenting Amid A Pandemic

Parenting Amid A Pandemic

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator
As if parenting wasn’t enough of a challenge, we now get to navigate tweens, teens, toddlers and everyone in-between, all while social distancing and explaining the very real need for us to take action against a disease.
This is a good time to remember one of Holly Schweitzer Dunn’s top three mantras: Parent emotion drives child emotion.
When parents are mindful of their emotional state they are more prone to recognize the impact they have on their children.  The brain hears tone before it hears anything else.  When a parent’s tone is off, children become aware of this more than they are aware of the actual words being said.  How many times have you sworn to your child you are “not angry” only to hear back from him that he knows you are angry because he can “hear it in your voice?”  Our kids know so much more than we give them credit for.
What parents can do:
1.  Model self care and self awareness.
2.  Model honesty with emotions and accountability to managing those emotions in respectful, healthy ways.
3.  Create home environments where honest discussion of the pandemic (in developmentally appropriate ways) takes place.
4.  Model how to acknowledge the fear and uncertainty of the quarantine while also acknowledging awareness of good, normal, neutral.
This might look like:
  •  A parent becoming tearful at the dinner table while voicing both sadness and appreciation for the bad germs making people sick and the brave workers who are taking care of everyone.
  • A parent pausing to take a deep breath while walking outside, mentioning gratitude for healthy lungs and the smell of spring while also acknowledging how strange and eerie it feels to see empty neighborhood streets.
  • A parent recognizing that their frustration at not-quite-right items in their grocery delivery was driven by a need to feel in control of something- anything!- during this time when so much is unknown and uncertain.

Read more about parenting from the professional wisdom of an article by The Atlantic

The power of choice in social distancing

The power of choice in social distancing

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator


Last week our Governor announced that Ohio would be staying home from all school, play, and non-essential work until at least May 4. Many of our clients came to us with a similar question: How will I survive this for another month?

Therapist Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW, suggests we reframe this to view quarantine from an empowerment place rather than experiencing it only as a victim provides freedom and even a sense of autonomy where we once felt powerless. Try on one of these:

  • Instead of “I have to quarantine” try “I’m staying home to bring safety to myself, to spread safety and to love to the world.” 
  • Instead of “I have no other option” say to yourself, “I choose to follow these guidelines for the good of all.”
  • Rather than “I am helpless in this” remind yourself that “I have control over how I handle this.”

By viewing your actions as an empowered individual and keeping in view the larger goal – public health and personal safety – we can feel differently about our living conditions with all their restraints. You still might long for a leisurely trip to the mall or wish you could gather with friends for dinner, but shifting from “I can’t” to “I choose not to at this time” keeps you mentally in the driver’s seat.