“A healthy mind creates a healthy body!”
By the end of this chapter you will have a good idea on how the quality of your thoughts can have a direct impact on the quality of your health.
The mind-body connection
Your thoughts can positively or negatively affect your biological functioning. In other words, your mind can affect the health of your body!
Each time you think a thought, you activate a series of neural pathways from the brain to the spinal cord (central nervous system) for regulation, function and monitoring of the body's internal and external conditions.
We have approximately 100 trillion neural pathways in the brain, and as we become older and establish a more routine behaviour; we tend to activate the same pathways more often which can often cause pain and discomfort if these thoughts are negative on a regular basis.
Look at like this; if you practice golf on the driving range and you commonly hit the ball to the left, then when you play on the golf course, you’re probably going to hit the ball to the left more often.
The circle diagram to the right has fewer pathways and is a representation of the neurons activating in an adult’s brain. Because typically an adult lives a life with a regular routine (wake-up, go to work, watch TV, go the gym etc); less neural pathways are being used.
This is known as a Default Mode Network. When the DMN is overactive our conscious mind is continuously fed unpleasant or worrying emotional thoughts and feelings; producing a depressed or anxious state of mind, which if continued for extended periods can cause harmful disease.
Whereas the image to the right is from a child’s brain. As you can see there are many more pathways being activated, which means the child is thinking more spontaneously, more playfully and in a very creative way.
What this suggests is by having fun, enjoying creative projects and being more spontaneous, a significant reduction of the Default Mode Network response occurs, and this can accelerate the healing process.
Thoughts create emotions
Your emotions are created by your thoughts and not by your circumstances. Even if you’re experiencing emotional pain right now and think it is because of an event that happened in your past or may happen in your future; the way you emotionally respond is based on the way your neural networks are wired to fire.
Being more child like, having fun, enjoying creative projects and being more spontaneous, helps rewire these!
Emotions impact our health
From rage to love, and from fear to excitement; the body responds by releasing hormones in order to prepare us for a perceived event. Depending on how we perceive this event, and which end of the emotional spectrum it appears to be impacting you emotionally, can impact on which hormones are released.
If it is perceived as stressful event, then catabolic hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released. If over long periods of time these hormones are continually being produced because you haven’t “let go” of this event; the body starts to feel the tension.
Conversely, if you are releasing the hormones of love and joy, which include oxytocin, growth hormones, testosterone and estrogen, then you are feeling energised, you can rest well, and you begin to look youthful.
Emotions and their Organs
According to ancient eastern philosophies and now also modern scientific discoveries, emotions have associated organs and affect the efficiency in the way operate;
Sadness - Heart
Fear - Kidney
Grief - Lungs
Pensiveness - Spleen
Anger - Liver and Gallbladder
Emotions can change your posture
An extended stress response can impact on your postural alignment because the organs have nerve innervations to muscles.
Over time, these muscles can become short and tight, causing the pelvis and shoulders to rotate forward. This is why chronically stressed people commonly have poor postures, along with neck and lower back pain.
Change your response
If you are open to the idea that discomfort can be created by repeated thinking, then all of a sudden you are no longer at the mercy of these external circumstances. You now have some control!
You can train your brain to create new pathways when you know how. This requires a daily practice, of positive habits and routines to keep your thoughts in check.
By talking about the future you want to create - the thoughts will change as well. By talking about how grateful you are for your past - the thoughts will change as well!
Make a choice
Making each and every choice conducive to your purpose in life can have a compound effect on your health and wellbeing.
Of course, we make choices which may not serve us initially, but we can learn from these.
Then there is no choice; this is probably the least desired, because there is no room for growth and development.
Define your Purpose
Having a clear intention on how you would like your life to look is the key to making optimal choices. In addition to the emotional and psychological benefits, having a strong sense of purpose can also help you live longer.
Reliving your childhood
Previously mentioned, a child’s brain is firing and wired together in a less ridged way. You can do the same, even if you have a daily routine, you can still have fun, play and be creative.
List 10 things you used to do as a child for fun?
From the 10 fun activities list choose 3 actives you are able to do right now… and do these!!!!
The mind is a very complex machine and we can do many creative and productive things to improve our emotional state, which have been proven to have a direct correlation with how we feel physically.
If you are finding life overwhelming then consider contacting a professional to gain some context and to help you move forward to living a happier and healthy life.
The key is to have fun!