In many years of working psychotherapeutically with trauma survivors, I have learned that self-care is at the heart of trauma recovery. I have also frequently observed that highly intelligent people who are struggling with life circumstances repeatedly make bad choices for themselves that lead them into greater difficulties. This paradox often strikes me as perplexing. Why do some smart people when dealing with traumatic life events make bad choices that are counter to self-care? Might the answer lie in our genetic programming? Or in the Greek gods?

Two years ago I attended Dr. Herbert Benson’s continuing medical education course at Harvard on resilience. Benson is the legendary father of Mind-Body Medicine, also known as complimentary medicine. At the core of Benson’s approach to managing stress is a concept he calls the relaxation response. It is now difficult to imagine that in the 1970’s it was medical heresy to suggest as Benson did that stress contributes to health problems and that mental focusing techniques could in any way benefit the body. Fortunately, because of Benson’s work and those that followed, we now take for granted the mind-body benefits yielded by yoga, meditation, guided imagery and other such approaches.

Read the rest of the article published at Psychology Today.