Sandi Langham, LCPC

There seems to be a lot of hype and news coverage recently about using a holistic and mind-body connection approach in taking care of our health and bodies. As a therapist, I have the privilege of working with clients who cope with chronic pain from migraine headaches and limited or decreased breathing capacity caused by stress. These individuals struggle with migraine headaches and feel debilitated from coping with these ever present-headaches. The individuals who struggle with compromised or limited breathing capacity related to stress, can have decreased overall oxygen going to the body. The individuals with migraine headaches can feel like there is constant pain and discomfort, and the individuals that struggle with migraine headaches can feel like they can never quite catch their breath.

As a therapist, I often focus on offering psychoeducation in helping clients understand the body’s response to managing pain or breathing difficulty symptoms. There is a wealth of knowledge and support towards working with our body discomfort and pain using a mind-body approach. This includes understanding the body’s response to stress.

There is a documentary entitled “Heal” which is focused on using the mind-body connection treatment approach that includes meditation to hopefully manage or diminish the pain experience. This blog post explores this documentary by Schomer and Noonan (2017). This may be encouragement to those who struggle with body discomfort with migraines, full-capacity breathing, and other health issues.

One of the main themes covered in this documentary was what common themes that cancer-surviving patients used and how this could apply to others in caring for and balancing their health. The nine factors that were mentioned were radically changing diet/eating plan, taking control of health, following intuition, using herbs, releasing suppressed emotions/trauma, increase positive emotions, embrace social support, deepen spiritual connection, and have a strong reason for living. I’ll focus on the emotional factors, so we can consider how to apply these to our lives. These can also be healthy habits to develop in order to maintain balance and prevent further health issues.

  • Following intuition – The essentially means acquiring knowledge without actually know it was acquired. I often encourage clients to pay attention to their body and needs, such as resting when experiencing burnout in a job, or making a wise choice in life based on a feeling.
  • Releasing suppressed emotions/trauma – This is the idea of focusing on releasing emotions that have been in holding. Forgiveness helps the body to let go and actually increases stress feelings in the body as well. Some specific processes for this may be used in therapy to assist with this are EMDR, EFT, meditation, and breathwork. The documentary discussed how practicing gratitude sends a message to the body to receive positivity.
  • Increase positive emotions – There is the idea that the power within the mind has the power to heal the mind. This can be practiced through meditation. This has actually been proven in studies with the activation of the prefrontal cortex, and a feeling of calmness and quieting the mind. On the flip side, physicians in this documentary say that stress causes more of a toxic state in the body.
  • Embrace social support – Surrounding ourselves with positive social supports can help actually spread good energy to our body was well helping us feel good about ourselves.
  • Deepen spiritual connection – This may be from meditation or prayer.
  • Have a strong reason for living – Clarifying purpose in life and being aware of present state of mind, living according to what we value, and manifesting good things and a higher sense of purpose increases motivation and the healing process.

While not all of my clients that have migraine headaches or stressed-induced breathing issues are able to completely solve the symptoms, they have been able to see improvement in their pain, discomfort, and overall health.

If you find that you are struggling with migraine headaches, stress-induced breathing issue, or other health issues, and are interested in doing deeper emotional work for these health issues, contact Symmetry Counseling in or to set up a session.

Resource

Schomer, A. (Producer) & Noonan Gores, K. (Director). 2017. “Heal” [Documentary Motion Picture]. Elevative Entertainment.