Doctor Google anyone? How many times are our physical diagnoses based on Internet searches, or friend or acquaintance details of aches and pains? Then, we begin to feel the twitch or pang of those suggestions. It is fascinating how the body manifests what the mind focuses on. There is a direct correlation between mind and body: how we think and the way we feel.
As life happens, we experience many highs and lows. How these highs and lows influence our lives is largely dependent on how we perceive them. When we have a negative mindset, there is a tendency to close ourselves off from the world. Our bodies pay the price. Stress has been proven to have deeply negative effects on our body, ranging from headaches, to insomnia, to frequently getting sick. When adopting an optimistic posture however, we are much more open, which positively influences our bodies. Effects seen with optimism include lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and lower levels of the markers of inflammation which predict heart attacks and strokes.
Changing the way we think and being in control of our minds can improve our physical health and overall sense of well-being.
According to Amy Morin , author of 7 Ways to Heal Your Body by Using the Power of Your Mind, there are seven ways you can use your mind to promote physical health:
Make Your Treatments More Effective by Expecting Them to Work: The placebo effect is real, and has been proven. If we have a stomach ache and take medicine to make it feel better, when we believe the medication will help us, we tend to usually feel better, regardless of the medication. No matter what issue we are having with our body, when we seek treatment, our belief that the treatment will help us may advance our health more than the actual treatment itself.
Sleep Better by Writing in a Gratitude Journal: Research has shown that those who struggle with insomnia tend to benefit from writing a gratitude journal before bed. Conjuring up feelings of thankfulness right before you fall asleep will increase the chances you’ll get a good night’s rest. And a good night’s rest is essential to staying healthy, physically and mentally.
Live Longer by Focusing on Your Purpose in Life: When you feel like you have a sense of purpose with your life, you tend to have a stronger sense of belonging. Research has shown when we have a strong sense of belonging, we often feel our life has a stronger meaning, which can lead to a longer, healthier lifestyle. Find something that matters to you, whether it be volunteering, exercise, or your work.
Be Optimistic and Boost Your Immunity: Several research studies have shown that optimistic people are less likely to get sick. Being hopeful and remaining positive influences your immune system. Looking on the bright side makes you less likely to get a cold or infection because optimism keeps your immune system performing at its peak.
Slow Aging with Meditation: Meditation provides a generous buffer against the harmful effects stress can have on the body. Numerous studies have shown meditation slows the rate of cellular aging, which can help us to stay looking and feeling youthful. If we can learn to practice meditation, we can limit the amount of stress we experience in our lives, and provide ourselves with lifelong benefits.
Build Muscle by Imagining Yourself Working Out: Imagine getting stronger without having to go to the gym. Mental imagery can help you build muscle without even lifting a finger. One study in particular found that people who imagined themselves working out were able to gain 24% more muscle strength. Mental training can actually enhance muscle mass.
Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease by Laughing: Research has shown that laughter decreases stress and increases the amount of good cholesterol. We have heard it before but it may indeed be true that laughter is the best medicine. And don’t hesitate to spread that laughter!
A healthy mind is important on its own, but is also key to a healthy body.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
– Maya Angelou