The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has put itself firmly on record as being deeply concerned about our national epidemic of stress at the individual, organizational and societal levels. NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) broadcast on September 7th its annual Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Therapies. The lecture was titled A Nation Under Pressure: The Public Health Consequences of Stress in America.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recently documented a worrisome increase in stress in the U.S. population (Stress in America https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress). Uncontrolled stress can cause or worsen anxiety, depression, PTSD and a wide range of clinical conditions affecting every organ system. Medical students, residents and practicing physicians experience higher levels of stress than their age-
Of all the sciences, medicine uniquely combines all domains of the human condition-
Medicine has always attracted the best and the brightest. Most applicants to medical school are also inspired by a desire to be of genuine service and express their deepest human values through their professional lives. This ethic of altruism, compassion, meaning and service distinguishes medical students from most other professional students.
This new patient was a desperate, mid-
Modern life is taking its toll on our nation’s mental and physical health. Physicians and their patients both suffer from stress-
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy MD has sounded the alarm regarding our country’s epidemic of stress.(1) He calls for a serious national effort to mitigate the corrosive effect of chronic stress on every organ system. He calls for a nationwide campaign to spread a preventive, behavioral lifestyle prescription of healthy eating, physical activity and genuine social support (other than social media). Based on solid peer-
Behavioral medicine research confirms the value of mind-
Relationships are at the very heart of medicine. I recently saw one of my favorite patients whom I had not seen in 10 years. I have thought of her often since the hospital took over my Estill County practice in Irvine and I moved to Lexington. Wanda always lifted my spirits. She always asked me how I was doing because she cared about me. We joked and laughed while managing her chronic medical conditions. She was good medicine for me.
Defining resilience: The American Psychological Association (APA) describes resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress, such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.” APA further describes resilience as “ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience.
Wayne Jonas MD is clinical professor of family medicine, Georgetown University, retired Lt. Colonel United States Army Medical Corps and a complementary medicine researcher. He previously served as Director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at NIH, which is now called the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. He has recently proposed the HOPE note (Healing Oriented Practices and Environments) as a clinical tool to help physicians….
Anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide are increasing-
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trouble with this interoceptive perception. Interoception is important for recognizing changing physiologic cues such as hunger, satiety, hypoglycemia, migraine or epileptic aura, fever, bowel and bladder fullness, heartbeat and the full range of emotions.
Interoception is essential to emotional intelligence. Interoceptive training can help those who are unable to distinguish tension from relaxation, safety from fear, pleasant from unpleasant, comfort from pain, anxiety from peacefulness, sadness from happiness, anger from empathy and other emotional states as they come and go. Links between emotions and physical sensations in the body can help identify emotions and anchor emotional intelligence in the body.
How to do the body scan meditation?
This practice can be done very quickly or very slowly. I have provided 5 minute and 40-
Beginning with the feet and sequentially progressing throughout the entire body, one focuses on the felt sense in each body part while non-
Try using the body scan to help you calm the racing mind and fall asleep at night. Try it in the morning, paying close attention to your body as you wake up, beginning your day with the intention of alertness, awareness, presence and paying close attention to your family, patients, staff and colleagues. Tune in to your body throughout the day, noticing how it feels interoceptively to be hungry or thirsty, rushed or relaxed. Notice how you communicate with your tone of voice, facial expression, body posture, silence-
Behavioral medicine research confirms the value of mind-
What is mindfulness?
Researchers who study mindfulness emphasize the following components-
What is the body scan meditation?
The mind is often in the past or the future. This can be useful but it can also be a real obstacle to effectiveness and contentment in our personal and professional lives. The mind can also be in some other place besides where the body actually is. For these reasons, mindfulness of the body is considered the first foundation of mindfulness practice. The body is always dependably in the present moment and in this place. The body is always here and now. We train the mind to ‘be here now’ by paying attention to the body. (3)
The body scan meditation emphasizes interoception, shifting from cognition to somatic perception of the gross and subtle “sensing” or “feeling” of the interior of the body-
We know from clinical practice and from our own experience, that some people can “feel” their heart beating fast/slow or regular/irregular-
Dr Patterson chairs the Lexington Medical
Senator Alvarado earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Loma Linda University (California) in 1990, and then went on to receive his Doctorate in Medicine in 1994. He completed his medical residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Kentucky in 1998. Society's Physician Wellness Commission and is certified in Physician Coaching. He is on the family practice faculty UK College of Medicine and teaches nationally for Saybrook School of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, DC). After 30 years in private family practice in Irvine KY, he now operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative mind-