Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Stress and the Mind-Body Connection

There is so much research on the Mind-Body connection that we cannot deny that our minds and emotions play a huge role in our overall health. Your mind is the most powerful tool to heal your body, therefore it has become imperative to find better ways to handle stress and learn how to relax and find the joy in our lives. The more we focus on gratitude and all the blessings in our life the healthier our Immune system and body will be.

Here is an interesting article regarding stress, disease and our mind connection to it all.....

Stress, Emotional Imbalance, and Disease: The Mind-Body Connection

By Dr. Thomas Sult and Amanda Ronan

At some point in your life, you’ve been stressed. In fact, it’s pretty likely that right now, as you’re reading this article, you’ve got a list going in the back of your mind of everything else you should be doing right now. Our families, friends, coworkers, and bosses all have expectations of us. You have obligations, you make promises, you stretch yourself too thin. And then what happens? Yep. You get sick.

JUST BE WELLA Movement for Seekers of Vibrant Health
As I wrote in Just Be Well: A Book for Seekers of Vibrant Health, “Disease occurs with imbalance, and your chronic stress is probably resulting in imbalanced hormones. Stress increases cortisol, and cortisol can result in insulin resistance. The chain goes on from there: insulin resistance prevents you from burning fat—you burn muscle instead, and the resulting low muscle is associated with poor immune function.”

Stress is the body’s response to threats or demands. When you feel threatened, or like you just can’t keep up, your nervous system floods your body with hormones. Those hormones, in turn, are both responsible for and worsen many common health problems, including pain, heart disease, digestive disorders, depression, autoimmune disease, and weight gain.

Stress is directly related to increased inflammation. Normally, your body responds to bacterial and viral invaders with inflammation. But when your body is constantly awash with stress hormones, you find chronic inflammation, which impacts the function of major organs and joints.

Both internal and external factors influence stress. Major life changes, issues at school or work, relationship problems, and a too-full schedule are external causes of stress. Worrying, pessimism, thinking too rigidly and inflexibly, doubting yourself, and focusing on being “perfect” cause stress from the inside. As I’ve written before, “Just like all our other environmental inputs—including the food we eat and the air we breathe—our thoughts, beliefs, and relationships can either be healing and supportive, or they can be toxic. And when you’re struggling with getting this central piece of the matrix on track, you can eat all the wonderful foods and take all the wonderful medicines this planet has to offer, but you likely won’t get better. You can become stuck in “dis-ease,” even if your diet and exercise regimen is impeccable, because you’re fueling yourself with toxic thoughts.”

The good news from all of this is that you can control how you respond. You can choose whether or not to dwell on things that make you feel stressed. You can heal yourself from the inside out by adjusting your thought process and bringing more awareness to your mental, emotional, and spiritual state of mind. They say it takes more energy to be negative than it takes to be positive. And that’s definitely true when it comes to stress in your body. True wellness is holistic—it balances mind, body, and spirit.

When I meet with patients who need help managing stress, I let them know about a study my professor at UCLA, Dr. Norman Cousins, had written about. In the study, actors were brought to the health center at UCLA to have blood drawn. After the initial procedure, they were given cards with emotions on them and asked to act out that emotion for twenty minutes. Then their blood was drawn again. The blood drawn the second time resulted in very different immune markers than the blood drawn just twenty minutes before. Actors who’d shown positive emotions had an increase in immune function, while actors with negative emotions showed a decrease in immune function.

So, while you might not be feeling happy and chipper, consider the “fake it ’til you make it” mantra. It’s possible that with just twenty minutes of acting like you feel positive, you can begin to heal yourself and undo some of that internal damage caused by stress. Add the power of positive thinking to a nutritious diet and an active exercise routine and you’re well on your way to vibrant health.

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