How a Positive Mindset Impacts our Health
This week's guest post comes from the incredible holistic integrative nutrition coach and RN, Bri.
"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right" Henry Ford.
I didn't make the connection between my thoughts and my health for a very long time.
I've always been known in my family as the pessimist. I called myself the realistic one, but I was pretty negative. I was also very unhappy, suffered from migraines, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and lethargy.
Those negative thoughts have more of an impact on health than you may give it credit for. I didn't make the connection between my thoughts and my health for a very long time.
I first dove deep into this information while going through the program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Dr. Lissa Rankin was one of the speakers. She's a western trained MD who shares about the power of mind over our health. I was fascinated and immediately bought her book, Mind over Medicine, only to be completely blown awayby the scientific information she provides that proves beyond a doubt how powerful our mind is. She shares example after example of stories such as "the man who had a heart attack who refused surgery only to have his 'incurably' blocked coronary arteries open up after changing his diet, beginning an exercise program, doing yoga, meditating daily, and attending group therapy sessions".
My typical day used to consist of waking up and immediately having negative thoughts.
Have you already noticed how when you are negative you have a bad day, but when you're positive you have a good day? Here's what I mean - my typical day used to consist of waking up and immediately having negative thoughts. Then I would feel down all day (ie I don't like myself, my job, why me). I would feel unsettled, depressed, anxious. Then I would eat bad, not exercise, drink alcohol excessively. It's no wonder I suffered from migraines, brain fog, depression, anxiety and lethargy! Sound familiar?
When I'm positive, I really notice how positive my whole day is. I come across more pleasant people. I exercise. I'm a nicer more pleasant person to be around. I eat well. But most importantly...I feel great (physically and mentally)! When we're positive we tend to make even more positive choices (ie eating well, exercising, meditating) which will reinforce the positive thoughts.
They're both cycles, and the really awesome thing is you get to choose which cycle you're in!.
I know first hand how hard it is to break that negative thinking pattern, but it's so crucial to our health, happiness and longevity. Negative thoughts massively impact our health. This article from JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) discusses how both negative and positive thoughts affect health thru sharing about nocebo and placebo affects. "Nocebo effects can modulate the outcome of a given therapy in a negative way, as do placebo effects in a positive way." Most of us know what a placebo is, but just to make sure...placebo is usually a sugar pill given in a double blind study for a medication, but the person receiving the sugar pill thinks it's the actual medication. They're told this pill will help with their XYZ condition. Frequently, those who take thesugar pill placebo experience positive results. Nocebo is the exact opposite. So let's stick with the sugar pill example, but now the person is told they might experience certain negative side effects. Some studies have seen up to 25% of those who received the sugar pill experience extreme negative effects. (1)
How can our thoughts affect our health so profoundly?
How can our thoughts affect our health so profoundly? This article explains it very well! In a nutshell, "Our emotions and experiences are essentially energy and they can be stored in the cellular memory of our bodies." This article from Psychology Today offers a more scientific explanation..."First, sympathetic fibers descend from the brain into both primary (bone marrow and thymus) and secondary (spleen and lymph nodes) lymphoid tissues (Felten & Felten, 1994). These fibers can release a wide variety of substances that influence immune responses by binding to receptors on white blood cells....there is direct evidence that stress-related immunosuppression can increase vulnerability to disease in animals".
Let's get positive!!
With a positive mindset we can:
- better cope with stress
- increase our lifespan
- improve our quality of life
- improve cardiovascular health (2)
- decrease stress, depression and anxiety
- improve our immune system
I've heard several stories from people who lives to be over 100 years old, and the question they get asked all the time is "What's the secret to a long life?". A lot of them give answers along the lines of 'chocolate and wine' (which I'm so ok with!). That kind of answer also shows that they have a great sense of humor! In this article, the author asked her 100 year old grandpa what his secret is for a long life and he answered “Be thankful for everything, always be happy, and always look at life from a positive perspective”.
So now that you're ready to be positive all day, every day...how do you do that?
How to develop and sustain a positive mindset:
Understanding the impact that your mindset has on your health is a HUGE first step!
Practice Mindfulness. Read my post here where I share why mindfulness is important and some simple practices you can use to get started.
Use self-reflection. Write in a journal daily. You will learn a lot about yourself, your mindset, how you react to life events, and where you may need to make some changes.
Self-care. Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy. Even if you have to schedule this in, it's super important so it needs to get done!
Re-evaluate relationships. "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with" -Jim Rohn. Do you spend time with negative people or positive people? You might need to make some changes in who you hang out with.
Read personal development books. My absolute most favorite personal development book of all time is "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson. Read it.
Give your body ultra nourishment! There is absolutely no way for our body to function as it should if it doesn't have the proper nutrients to do so. Eat clean, drink water, eliminate processed food and sugar.
Having a positive mindset isn't always easy, but it's so worth it!
Peace, love and wellbeing -
is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Nurse. She suffered from a number of negative health issues and reversed them using nutrition and other natural modalities. She's passionate about inspiring and empowering others to take control of their health! She offers one-on-one coaching and will soon have digital courses to guide you toward your wellness goals. Visit her at www.hippiedippiemom.com.
Have a health turn-around story of your own, or other inspiration to share? Tell me about it in the comments!