People may say, “It’s all in your head!” but science is proving that when it comes to your body, the mind does have a significant impact on your health. In fact, the author of Skin Deep: A Mind/Body Program for Healthy Skin, Dr. Ted Grossbart, says that our bodies can’t distinguish a thought from a real experience, “If you picture yourself sitting by the fire, your toes actually get warmer.” In other words, if you’re thinking or imagining it, the organs of your body are responding to it.
Researchers have found that even your attitude or emotional responses will affect the course of an illness. Stress is definitely connected to a lowered immune response which means skin flare ups, being more vulnerable to a cold or flu and even heart disease.
Happiness and health
A Stanford University study found that female heart patients who were anxious, fearful of leaving their house and worried about having a heart attack were significantly more likely to die then women who were optimistic about their health. A Duke University study followed men over a 25 year period and found that those who were initially described as emotionally hostile were more likely to lead shorter lives. However, patients who were willing to participate in support groups and to receive therapy and develop different emotional coping skills were able to change their risk factor to one that resembled the optimistic heart patients. Dr.John Barefoot from Duke University Medical Center explains, “If you believe people are mean-spirited and bad and untrustworthy, that leads to a negative world outlook,” which has a profound effect on health.
A healthy sense of humor
It’s also important to recognize and deal with smaller emotional stresses like a lack of fulfillment in your job, a listlessness in regards to your life, or even not having fun. If you’re bored at work, this creates a nearly invisible stress that takes its toll on your health because of the loss of mental stimulation and all the positive physical energy this releases. Studies of college students have shown that those who described themselves as having a good sense of humor got colds and the flu far less often than students who described themselves as serious.
So, what to do?
- Be honest. If you’d describe yourself as anxious or angry, get some new coping skills
- Fake it ’til you make it. Acting and thinking positive will have positive effects on your health – and on you!
- Shake yourself out of boredom. Do what you love – something that scares the hell out of you
- Deal with depression – help is only a phone call away
- Go have some fun. Laugh. It helps with pain and immune response, and it keeps you more positive which makes you less anxious and angry… it’s an upward cycle.
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