Mind-Body Medicine and HIV/AIDS
April 20, 2003
Mind-body medicine is a new way of understanding health and disease which recognizes that emotional and psychological issues influence whether we are sick or healthy.
Mind-body research has shown that our emotions, beliefs, relationships with others and behavior habits can influence our immune system, making it stronger or weaker, and thus move us towards sickness or health. For example, we now know that severe stress and continued grief and depression can weaken the immune system, and that the support of friends, being self-assertive and physical exercise all contribute to strong immunity and health.
Researchers in mind-body medicine have studied how the mind-body connection works in HIV/AIDS since the mid-1980s. They have looked at why some people get sick and die from HIV, while others remain free of symptoms and healthy. Here are some specifics, based on medical research:
Finally, you should be getting regular (3 times per week), moderate physical exercise. An example of moderate exercise is a 20-minute brisk walk that gets you to breath a little harder and perhaps some sweat on the forehead. Remember Natural Killer (NK) immune cells from above? Exercise also promotes the strength and quantity of these HIV-fighting NK cells.
How can you use this new information about the mind-body connection to enhance your HIV+ health? For each of the issues mentioned above, rate yourself on how well you are doing: good, OK or poor. Then, make a list of the issues rated "poor" and pick someone to talk honestly with about each problematic issue. You may want to pick different people for different issues. After the discussion, create a plan for improvement for each "poor" issue and begin working on your plan.
For more information on this topic, please check out the L.I.F.E. Program website at www.Shanti.org.
Jeffrey M. Leiphart, Ph.D. is a health psychologist and Director of the L.I.F.E. Institute at Shanti in San Francisco.
This article was provided by PositiveWords.