When we think about looking after ourselves, our head usually goes to diet and exercise. 

However, there are so many distinct aspects to our health that are often overlooked. The biopsychosocial model of health includes physical (biology), mental (psychology) and social (sociology) elements of how we are. 

Whilst keeping the body moving and keeping the right diet are very important, if we don’t have the other elements in balance, our health may decline. 

This is true particularly with pain. Lots of things can stimulate and exacerbate pain. Pain is felt. It is an emotion processed in the same part of the brain that other emotions are processed. It can be changed, diluted, or hindered with other stimuli. 

Physical elements that may change or cause pain may include tissue damage, build-up of connective tissues, pressure from surrounding structures or inflammation. Just like when we hit our arm accidentally; we create tissue damage that causes the pain. 

Non-physical aspects that cause or increase pain may include lack of sleep, emotional input, or even a belief of pain. When the psychology and sociology of a person is not treated, it can result in altered nerve conduction, hormone or chemical abnormalities that exacerbate or create a pain in the body. 

Have you ever noticed that when we don’t get a good night’s sleep, our normal aches and pains seem so much worse? 

Both physical and emotional stress is another aspect that can cause or increase your physical pain. 

Luckily, there are many ways to treat these elements of our health system, and they do not only include talking to a shrink! Making social connections and doing something mentally stimulating can help change the chemicals and hormones travelling through our systems which may help relieve pain. This can be as simple as doing a puzzle or saying hi to your neighbour. 

Another fantastic way to connect with this system is through touch. Touch is often an under-rated need of human beings. When we see our loved ones, we urge to give them a hug. When we meet someone for the first time our instinct is to shake hands. This physical contact with others has an enormous impact on the chemical and hormonal balance in our system. 

A massage is a fantastic way to influence the nervous, chemical and hormone systems of the body to keep balance to all three aspects of health. 

Unfortunately, touch is not widely promoted now due to the pandemic. This may be causing some social and psychological hardships for many people. 

If you are feeling the need for some more balance with your or someone else’s biopsychosocial health, here are a few ideas:

Remember, keeping healthy should not be “just work”, it should be fun too. It is just as important to work on our social and mental health as it is our physical health.

Nancy Jackson

Remedial Massage Therapist, Healthy Connections