It has been documented that thoughts and emotions have a powerful influence over our physical health. There was an interesting study conducted at UCLA in the early 1990s where 14 professional actors were recruited to study the effects of emotion on the immune system. During the study, the actors were told which mood state they would be experiencing.
They then read the appropriate scenario, which was about 100 words long, and were told to create and experience a realistic mood by developing the scene and verbally and behaviorally acting it out while seated. Actors were encouraged to use their own personal memories to intensify the experience. Once the actors were in a particular emotional state, the researchers drew blood to measure any physical changes that may be associated with particular emotional states. What they found surprised everyone. Simply by shifting from one emotional state to another, the actors could stimulate or suppress their immune function. Subsequent studies have measured all kinds of physical changes that result from emotional states, such as changes in hormone levels, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, even the ability to heal properly. In fact, the mind-body connection is so strong that an entire field of science has emerged called psychoneuroimmunology.
More and more scientific studies are published on a daily basis proving the idea that thoughts and emotions have a powerful influence over our physical health. This is one of the reasons why people are much more likely to get sick during job changes, holidays and other stressful times; or why people who are depressed have a much higher risk of developing cancer. How can emotions affect our immunity or resistance to disease? Research shows that the brain can release hormones and other chemicals that affect white blood cells and other parts of the immune system. Though the chemicals also have other functions, they are a link between our thoughts and our ability to resist diseases.For example, when people react to stresses with fear, their brains send a “danger” message to the body. Hormones are released to raise blood pressure and prepare muscles for quick action, as if to fight or flee from danger. The stress hormones also depress the disease-resistance system, and over time, can damage the brain, heart and digestive tract.Thoughts can cause physical abnormalities such as ulcers, indigestion, nervousness and high blood pressure. Thoughts can also depress the immune system, which leads to a wide variety of diseases. Whether a person experiences poor health, and how soon, depends on that person’s heredity, environment, diet, and behavior.
An Australian study in the late 1970s showed that when one spouse dies, the other experiences a weakened immune system. This helps explain why grieving spouses have more diseases and a higher death rate than others of similar age. Other studies have shown that heart patients who are depressed have more heart problems than happier heart patients; depression was a better predictor of problems than physical measurements were.
Cancer is more common in people who suffer a major emotional loss, repress anger and feel helpless. Cancer patients who express their emotions rather than denying them seem to recover more often. The link between emotion and cancer is so strong that some psychological tests are better predictors of cancer than physical exams are. This does not mean that everyone who has cancer or some other disease has simply thought it upon himself. There are many factors involved in disease; even the best attitude is not going to prevent ill effects from genetic malfunctions and some chemical and biological hazards. A new study shows physical proof how one of those aspects – a strong and happy marriage – can be a boon to your health. According to the study, physical wounds take much longer to heal in marriages marred by hostility and conflict than those in which couples build a more pleasurable home life.
As our thoughts and emotions have such a powerful influence over our physical health, we must take proactive steps to regain our health through healthy thinking, relaxation, and positive affirmations. Explore this section for more on how to calm your mind and improve your health.
The simple act of deciding to be happier and focus on the positive will improve your health. Just as negative emotions can weaken the body’s resistance level, positive emotions can give us strength, or at least allow our bodies to function normally. Therefore, the simple act of deciding to be happier and focus on the positive will improve your health. In fact, the phenomenon of your thoughts affecting your physical health is so strong that all medical studies have to be designed with it in mind. Researchers call this ‘the placebo effect.’
Many people believe that the term ‘placebo effect’ means that the effect is only imagined – that it is not real. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Medical studies have to include a control group – people who receive placebos instead of the medicine being studied – because the simple act of people making the decision to take action to improve their health leads to measurable physical improvement in their condition. To determine the effects of a particular medicine, researchers have to measure the change in the group who underwent therapy and subtract out the amount of change seen in the placebo group. Otherwise, there is no way to know whether a particular treatment was beneficial or whether it was merely the change in attitude in the study subjects that made the difference. In many instances, the placebo effect turns out to be stronger than the treatment itself! The point is that if you want to have a healthy body you also have to have healthy thoughts and emotions. Just as it is important to avoid toxic chemicals, it is also necessary to avoid toxic thoughts to enjoy optimal health.
Relationship with Self
Your relationship with your self is the most important relationship because as they say wherever you go there you are. Wellness begins with “being” well first and then is about “doing” things to be well. If you do not address who you are being than just doing things will not make you well. A simple way to remember this is that we refer to ourselves as human beings, not human doings.
Dr. Sue Morter, a wellness expert and one of the developers of Morter Health Systems, teaches about self esteem and healthy thinking in an extremely effective and practical manner. She explains how the body is the caboose of our self. It is who we are, how we are thinking and the story we have about our life that impacts our physical health and well-being. Her inspirational high-energy seminars begin by asking the simple question “Are you living well?” “Yes, I AM” the audience proclaims in an effort to understand that living well begins with making the self-declaration that I choose to be well. Her powerful message is communicated beautifully through simple stories that explain insightful metaphors for attaining things that are important for us to have in our lives. For example, if you were going to a party that you knew would not have the food or drink you wanted what would you do she asks? Just “bring it” the audience responds. That too, is what you do to begin the process of “being” well you bring it forward in your awareness.
If the idea of our thinking affecting our health seems far fetched, there is a really simple way to illustrate how this is true. If you opened your hand and then closed it into a fist you would be illustrating exactly the same concept of how your mind or your thinking causes your body to move and to function. Perhaps you may think that is too simple, so imagine if someone showed up on your door step and told you that you had just won the Discover Wellness, How Staying Healthy Can Make You Rich sweepstakes grand prize of $100 million dollars, do you think then your breathing would change? Might your heart rate change at least a little bit? How about your blood pressure? That’s because your awareness or consciousness affects your physical body and it works both for you and against you. Most people don’t realize this cause and effect relationship and therefore reverse it by determining what they should think based on how they feel. I AM so sick and tired of all this, people exclaim. I AM in pain, I AM angry and so on. It is completely up to us to determine what we choose to be and choose to feel and those choices are at the cause of how our body responds.
Based on this understanding of how health and wellness come from within, who else can we expect to manifest it for us in our lives? she asks. It is our personal responsibility to become self aware or as Dr. Sue once again so simply puts it, “We must be present to win.” We must live in the present in a state of gratitude and appreciation for our lives and circumstances in it. Our relationship with our self is our responsibility and the basis of intentional living. By having a positive relationship with yourself, you can manifest innate wellness.
We function a lot like computers: Garbage in produces garbage out, while great stuff in produces great stuff out. We talk to ourselves far more than we talk to others. In fact, most experts agree that about 80 percent of all conversations we have are with ourselves. All too often, we talk to ourselves with anger, fear, belittlement, and negativity. “I knew there wouldn’t be any parking,” or “I knew that they were going to be mad at me,” or “I am always depressed this time of year,” or even “I just can’t seem to do anything right,” are examples of the kind of negative inner talk we play over and over again in our minds. We acknowledge our ability to manifest our inner thinking and yet the majority of our inner thinking is negative and demeaning.
This raises a very important point. If we are powerful enough to manifest our negative thoughts, why can’t we also manifest our positive thoughts? The answer is that we can. In order to create positive thoughts instead of negative ones, we must decide in advance to be proactive and to discipline ourselves to take out the old mental program of negativity and immediately replace it with the new mental program of being positive and kind. I have found the best way to do this is through the use of affirmations.
Affirmations are positive self-talk designed to help you create the life of your dreams. Using affirmations on a daily basis is a simple step you can take to get what you want out of life and to reduce stress, fear, and depression. Making positive, affirmative statements to yourself will change your self-image, raise your self-esteem, and create an attitude of expectancy.
Here are some of the keys that allow you to maximize the power of your daily affirmations:
- Affirmations should be written down. This allows you to crystallize your thoughts and gives you a reference to refer back to daily.
- Affirmations should be in the first person and in the current time frame. They should always contain the word “I” and be in the “now” time frame, as they are the truth, told in advance. Remember the rule, “to become, act as if.”
- Affirmations are best done in the morning to start your day or in the evening before going to sleep. This helps to program your subconscious mind with positive thoughts.
- Affirmations can be either memorized or read, and need to be said aloud with emotion. This is what is necessary to open the trap door between your educated and innate mind.
Let me share some possible affirmations with you to get you thinking properly about creating your own. Remember that you can and should create affirmations for all parts of your life. Affirm professionally, spiritually, financially, and in all other areas.
For example: “I am happy, I am healthy, and I am wise. My potential is unlimited and I am growing every day. I am a magnet that attracts all the good of the universe to me daily. I am committed to constant and never-ending personal improvement, and I take massive action steps to create the future, as I want it to be. I will do whatever it takes to become the winner I know I am.”
Another example could be: “My beliefs create my reality! I choose robust health, abundant wealth, constant happiness and eternal love. I attract and positively influence the lives of people in my community. I think big thoughts, relish small pleasures and handle setbacks gracefully. I give thanks for the opportunity to serve humanity and I willingly accept the rewards being sent to me by an abundant universe. I am deeply grateful for all I create and receive. My life is now in total balance and I am a master!”
Relationships with Others
Relationships are important for good emotional health. Numerous studies have shown that people who have close friends and intimate relationships are healthier, happier, and live longer. In fact, the simple act of petting a dog, holding a child, or seeing someone you love causes a decrease in stress hormones in the blood, decreases blood pressure, and calms the mind. So, if you want to be healthy, stay connected to others.
As the author Dr. Tedd Koren says “Emotional health is also dependent on being connected – to yourself and others. The more connected you are to yourself the more you can connect with others and the more fulfilling your connections (relationships). The more relationships in your life the more happiness, joy, hope, optimism and vitality you will have; the healthier and longer you will live and the quicker you will recover from physical and emotional traumas and illness.”