I am delighted to share with you a post from a friend of mine, Christy Birmingham. Christy is an author and founder of When Women Inspire, a website where you will find poignant articles on a variety of topics that affect women of all ages. You can also check out her poetry books, Versions of The Self and Pathways to Illumination. I think you’ll find her as fascinating and inspirational as I do. Welcome Christy!
How Our Thoughts Affect Our Physical Health
Thank you for having me over to Professional Health Connection today, Joan! It’s a pleasure to be here writing about health, which is a topic of deep interest to me. This guest post focuses specifically on how our mental state can affect our physical health, for better or worse.
About the Mind-Body Connection
Ah, the mind. That complex organ that can keep you awake with thoughts upon thoughts in bed or seem to go suddenly blank out during a job interview. It’s those thoughts – and the feelings that come about through those thoughts – that can alter what occurs within the body.
A happy or optimistic mental perspective, for example, may link to a reduced risk of severe heart disease, diabetes, and colds. A growing body of research is looking at the relationships between these factors, as well as how negative emotions affect health. For example, chronic anxiety brought about by bad or irrational thoughts can increase blood pressure and spiking levels of stress hormones, namely adrenalin and cortisol.
When these particular hormones are continually secreted due to prolonged stress, they can suppress your immune system, grow fat storage, and reduce muscle and bone mass. In other words, the single organ called the brain has the potential to affect many other parts of the body.
Here are some more examples:
- When angry thoughts raise adrenaline levels
- If sad thoughts lower energy levels
- Financial stress can reduce tolerance to pain
- Scary thoughts can trigger or worsen neck pain
A Note of Caution
But even though thoughts and emotions have the potential to affect physical health significantly, it’s important to recognize that medicine can be helpful in certain cases. For example, I had a bacterial infection earlier in the year, and my doctor prescribed me antibiotics to help heal it. No amount of positive thinking would have cleared up my inflamed airways. Also, a disease is not simply a figment of the imagination.
Instead, what I am saying is that learning more about the connection between thoughts and physical health can provide you with more opportunity to expend control over your general wellness. While the thought-body connection is only one piece of the pie of health, it is one that is often not taken into account. The body and mind do intertwine, and we can develop our understanding of how it does so through techniques such as meditation and personal introspection.
By honing in on the mind-body link, we can start to delve into what we might be repressing or not addressing that may lessen our quality of life. After all, we can choose to see the good or bad in our surroundings and attach positive or negative thoughts to our moments.
About the Author
Christy Birmingham lives on Canada’s West Coast where she blogs at When Women Inspire about ways to live fully. When not writing, you can find her with a book, walking a trail, or dancing the night away at a local club. Connect with her on social media at Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.