A new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that the body and mind connection is lab real and the two are inextricably intertwined. In short, the mind and body connection is built into the structure of the brain.
Have you ever wondered why anxiety makes some people want to pace back and forth or why exercising regularly leads to a more positive outlook on life? Now, you have real answers.
The study reveals that parts of the brain that control movement are plugged into networks involved in thinking, planning, and control of involuntary bodily functions like blood pressure and heartbeat. The findings represent a literal linkage of body and mind in the brain’s very structure.
The Implications of These Findings
The discovery of this mind-body connection could have far-reaching implications in the fields of medicine, psychology, and neuroscience. By understanding the link between the brain and the body, doctors and therapists could develop more effective treatments for a wide range of mental and physical health conditions.
Details of the mind-body study
The researchers set out to verify the long-established map of the areas of the brain that control movement, using modern brain-imaging techniques. However, to their surprise, they discovered that Penfield’s map wasn’t quite right. Control of the feet was in the spot Penfield had identified. Same for the hands and the face. But interspersed with those three key areas were other three areas that did not seem directly involved in the movement at all, even though they lay in the brain’s motor area.
Dosenbach and Gordon named their newly identified network the Somato (body)-Cognitive (mind) Action Network, or SCAN. The network was not detectable in the newborn, but it was clearly evident in the 1-year-old and nearly adult-like in the 9-year-old. The monkeys had a smaller, more rudimentary system without the extensive connections seen in humans.
Practical Nuances of the Mind and Body Connection
By calming your body with breathing exercises, you also calm your mind. Those sorts of practices can be really helpful for people with anxiety, for example, but so far, there hasn’t been much scientific evidence for how it works. But now we’ve found a connection. We’ve found the place where the highly active, goal-oriented ‘go, go, go’ part of your mind connects to the parts of the brain that control breathing and heart rate. If you calm one down, it absolutely should have feedback effects on the other.
The brain is for successfully behaving in the environment so you can achieve your goals without hurting or killing yourself. You move your body for a reason. Of course, the motor areas must be connected to executive function and control of basic bodily processes, like blood pressure and pain. Pain is the most powerful feedback, right? You do something, and it hurts, and you think, ‘I’m not doing that again.’
This study reinforces the idea that taking care of our bodies can have a direct impact on our mental health and well-being. By engaging in practices like mindfulness, exercise, and breathing exercises, we can help to calm our bodies and minds, reducing feelings of anxiety and improving our overall outlook on life.
As the authors note, this study could have important implications for treating conditions like anxiety and depression. By understanding the connection between the body and mind, researchers may be able to develop new therapies that target both the physical and mental aspects of these conditions, potentially leading to more effective treatments and better outcomes for patients.
Workplace Statistics to See the Impact of Reduced Stress & Improved Well-Being
- A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that workplace stress costs US companies an estimated $500 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and healthcare costs.
- Another study by Harvard Business Review found that a toxic workplace environment can have serious consequences, including decreased job satisfaction, increased absenteeism, and even physical and mental health problems.
- According to a survey by the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, with 25% reporting that their job is the most stressful aspect of their lives.
- A study by the University of California, Irvine found that when employees were interrupted by email and other digital communication tools, it took them an average of 23 minutes to return to their original task.
- A report by Deloitte found that 77% of executives believe that employee well-being is important or very important to their organization’s success.
- A study by the World Economic Forum found that companies that prioritize employee well-being and mental health outperform their peers in financial performance and innovation.
- According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, the top causes of workplace stress are workload, people issues, and work-life balance.
- A report by the World Health Organization found that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
- A study by the University of Warwick found that happy workers are 12% more productive than their unhappy counterparts.
- A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 89% of employees at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.
By prioritizing employee well-being and creating a healthy work environment, companies can not only improve employee satisfaction and retention but also boost productivity, innovation, and financial performance. It’s important for entrepreneurs and tech executives to pay attention to these findings and take steps to promote a healthy workplace culture that supports the well-being of their employees.
What You Can Do As A Founder Or Entrepreneur
- Encourage movement: It’s important to encourage employees to move throughout the day, especially if their work involves sitting for long periods. Consider providing standing desks or scheduling regular breaks for physical activity.
- Prioritize sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and productivity. As a leader, encourage your employees to prioritize their sleep and consider offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate different sleep schedules.
- Promote stress management: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Encourage employees to practice stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
- Encourage healthy eating: A balanced diet can help support brain and body health. Consider providing healthy food options in the workplace or organizing healthy eating challenges or workshops.
- Support social connections: Social connections can play a role in mental and physical health. Encourage team-building activities or consider offering opportunities for employees to volunteer or participate in community events.
- Create a positive work environment: A positive work environment can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Consider ways to improve workplace culture, such as recognizing employee achievements or offering opportunities for professional development.
- Foster a growth mindset: Encourage employees to adopt a growth mindset, which can help promote resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges.
- Consider the impact of technology: Technology can have both positive and negative effects on the brain-body connection. As a leader, consider ways to promote healthy technology use, such as encouraging regular breaks from screens or providing tools to reduce eye strain.
- Promote a healthy balance: Encourage employees to find a healthy balance between all their activities, which can help support overall well-being.
- Lead by example: As a leader, it’s important to model healthy behaviors and prioritize your own well-being. By prioritizing your own health, you can help create a culture that supports the brain-body connection for your entire team.
Next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, consider taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, or engaging in some other form of physical activity. You may find that by calming your body, you’re able to calm your mind as well, leading to a more peaceful and positive state of mind.
Encourage the same with your team and employees. By incorporating these lessons into workplace culture, entrepreneurs and tech executives can help support the brain-body connection for themselves and their employees, leading to improved overall well-being and productivity.
Cristina Imre – Global Executive Coach Who Cares & Helps You Ride the Dragon Road with Ease & Joy