Triangle of healthNLP & The Triangle of Health

The collection of mental insights and techniques that in-depth NLP provides is very valuable in managing our moods.

For example we can recognise

  • The steps through which our moods change
  • How and why they change
  • The triggers that we respond to
  • Not only can we use NLP to do this – we can also use it to change from unpleasant to more pleasant moods.

Yet this is only part of the story. Relying solely on the thinking/feeling aspects of NLP is doing a disservice to this methodology and body of knowledge because there is much more to it than mental techniques. In fact the name Neuro-Linguistic Programming was designed to illustrate the breadth of its scope:

  • Neuro: refers to our neurology and physiology and to how our mind and body interact
  • Linguistic: refers to both verbal and non-verbal language (including our self talk) and how these affect us physically
  • Programming: refers to our strategies, “recipes” or automatic programmes for mentally, physically, and emotionally functioning.

Holistic Mind-Body NLP?

We don’t need an holistic or mind-body Neuro-Linguistic Programming because true NLP is already holistic and has always been so. In it we explore or model how that mind and body interact with one another.

So a thorough NLP approach to managing our moods takes into account how everything is affecting everything else and, in particular, how the three sides of the Triangle of Health interact with one another.

The Triangle of Health

Each side represents a key area of our functioning.

  1. Thinking and Emoting: how we think and the feelings that this produces
  2. Nutrition: how, what and when we eat and drink
  3. Physiology: how we assist our body (which evolved to be physically active for around 10 hours daily) to remain healthy in a lifestyle that is largely sedentary.

Everything is affecting everything else

We are systemic beings. Everything – body, mind, and chemistry — is  Connected with and affecting everything else is.

If I drink too much caffeine it affects my neurology and my thinking. If I don’t exercise it affects my tension levels, affects my digestion and, through retaining lactic acid, actually causes anxious feelings. And if I don’t manage my moods it affects my digestion, appetite, and tension levels to name a few effects.

What happens if we ignore a side?

Unless we pay attention to all three sides if the Triangle we are making life difficult for ourselves. For example:

(1) The nutrition/chemistry side

If we don’t eat well, avoid overeating or drinking, and have a balanced diet which supplies a range of essential nutrients this will put one’s body into stress and will affect us physically, mentally and emotionally. Sometimes the results are immediate as, for example, transient low blood sugar episodes resulting in shakiness, weakness and increased anxiety.  More often the effects go unnoticed and only affect us over time as, for example, when the body is unable to carry out ongoing repairs and maintenance and gradually begins to exhibit symptoms from our 30’s onwards.

(2) The physiology side

If we don’t exercise regularly and thoroughly our muscles will shorten and lose tone, tension will build up, lactic acid levels will rise (physically raising my anxiety levels), our posture will become locked (thereby locking us into a habitual mood/stance) and the various organs and systems will become progressively less healthy and less able to do their job. The body needs three forms of exercise to remain vital and healthy: stretching, strength and endurance. (We’ll be looking at the all-important area of good breathing in a future newsletter).

(3) The thinking side

We may eat the most wonderfully nutritious and balanced diet.  And engage in a regular and varied physical exercise routines. But if we become obsessive or too anxious about these two areas it can undermine the benefits of our diet and exercise regime.

Use the Triangle of Health as a guide

The triangle of health is a very simple way of keeping track of our three main systems. Use it daily to assess how effectively you are helping and investing in yourself.

Aim for a “little and often” investment in each side each day rather than attempting to change your diet and exercise and thinking in a few weeks. Our mind-body system responds best to gradual change and tends to react against dramatic change. As an example, you might consider doing the following for the next few days:

  1. On the nutrition/chemistry side perhaps have an extra couple of glasses of water a day, or a little less caffeine, or a mixed salad instead of a burger
  2. On the physiology side walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift, check your posture every so often, or do a few minutes of stretching exercise at the beginning of the end of your day
  3. On the thinking side check how effectively you are, each day, using the first two tips from this series on using NLP to manage your mood!

One order of medieval monks, it might have been Benedictines or Augustinians, used to use the old Latin proverb Mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body) to emphasise the vital interaction between mind and body.  Happily it is an attitude that’s become fashionable again.


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More information about NLP

NLP – what’s in it for me?

How to learn NLP

7 tips for choosing an NLP training provider

NLP Core Skills – our course in the New Forest

What people have said about our courses


By Reg Connolly, Director of Training, Pegasus NLP