Written by Dr Bill Mitchell

Not Just In The Mind

Review by Gunnel Minett

The phrase ‘It is just in the mind’ has come to mean some form of hypochondria: in other words, a person is somehow just imagining that they are unwell rather than being physically ill. This can of course be true in some cases, but for most of us, ‘just in the mind’ also means that the body is literally struggling to stay healthy. 

This is what this book is about. It goes through a number of common situations which we all face at some time in our lives. It can be; stress at work, a relationship breakup, bereavement, having young children, or unforeseen changes of circumstance we have no control over, such as we are  all experience right now with the Covid pandemic. In other words, situations that require extra inner strength to cope with. This is where we need navigation skills in order to get us through the difficult situation and back to, a more sustainable life style, which does not overload us, mentally and physically.

Although we may fully understand the problem which is causing our overload we may still find the situation too much to deal with. If we are lucky we might get help from friends and relatives. Without this we can end up burned-out. This is where this book comes in. To start with it goes through how and why stress and psychological overload can have a physical impact. The notion that body and mind are separate entities has been proven wrong by modern science. Thoughts and feelings are reflected in the body’s chemistry. Positive and negative thoughts create different internal environments. Stress in all forms puts pressure on our inner defence systems. The body’s fight/flight reaction is designed to deal with immediate stress situations within clear time frames. The ongoing stress we tend to experience in today’s society does not have this limited time frame. Consequently, it has a negative impact on our overall wellbeing. It is as if we are trying to live our lives in overdrive mode all the time. The end result is that the body starts to break down.

To get out of such stress situations may literally require a ‘road map’. The book offers a number of such road maps. Step by step guidance as to how to deal with different situations in order to regain control and make changes that will lead to a more balanced and sustainable life situation. 

Interestingly the book was written during the current pandemic which has caused a massive stress increase for many people. For the majority of us a global pandemic with subsequent lockdown for months on end, is not anything for which we were mentally prepared. As so often, when we suddenly face a crisis, we realise how unprepared we are. Our customary way of life which has been sufficient under normal circumstances, is no longer adequate. One such example is the way our health care system deals with anxiety, stress, sleepless, etc.: the tendency is simply to prescribe sleeping pills and other drugs which artificially try to balance up the body’s stress reaction. But, as the author describes, drugs are usually only helpful for short term acute situations. To give happy pills to large numbers of people for long periods is not the answer. People need guidance to change the way they live. Or, as the subtitle of this book says – ways to navigating life and work for energy, success and happiness. 

Green Tree, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020, ISBN 978-1-4729-9