Any athlete or personal trainer knows the importance of rest and recovery in an exercise or training regimen. In fact, the rest period is just as important as the physical training itself. At rest is where the muscles repair and where the body utilizes that time to come back stronger from the physical strains and demands that are placed on it. The question is: Do we place the same importance on giving our minds that respite? The mind and body have a symbiotic relationship. So much so, that physical conditions affect mental health, and mental conditions affect physical health.
The mind-body connection to healing is not a new concept. Sigmund Freud referred to this connection often in the field of Psychoanalysis and more recently researchers and practitioners in every field of medicine have placed importance on the integration of the mind and body for complete healing. Jeff Huffman, director of the cardiac psychiatry research program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests that “There is no question that your state of mind can dictate how quickly you can return from a physical setback and every aspect of our physical being is interconnected… All aspects must be healthy in order to achieve a healthy whole.” An example of this mind-body connection can be illustrated by how our bodies respond to extreme stress. Stress can cause our muscles to tense, our blood pressure to rise, and often is accompanied by headaches and stomach problems. Managing our mental health has a powerful effect on the body’s ability to heal and recover from stress and other trauma.
Through the practice of mindfulness and the development of a method called body intelligence, which involves recognizing the different sensations and states of emotion in the body, our ability to recruit the brain in the process of healing our bodies is amplified. There is a growing library of scientific research that points to the efficacy of complementary integrative health approaches in the treatment of stress related disorders, including PTSD. Our F.R.O.G. Program Team is creating a regimen called the Warrior Reset to aid our SEAL Operators in strengthening the mind-body connection. The program incorporates muscle relaxation and functional neuromuscular massage, yoga and movement therapies, breathing exercises, outdoor therapies and nutrition. These practices have shown through scientific study to be safe and effective. The two most important tools that we possess to reach the highest level of overall health and well-being are the Mind and the Body, and with the Warrior Reset Program we aim to help our SEAL Community to utilize these tools to achieve greater physical and mental health.
*For more information on the studies referenced in this article or If you are interested in learning more about the research used to construct the Warrior Reset Program please contact Jennifer Cooper @ Jennifer@c4foundation.org