How you can think your way to better health

Consider the following:

  • Perceiving your daily activities as exercise can result in significant drops in weight, waist circumference and blood pressure, without any actual changes to your reported eating or exercise.
  • Having a make-over decreases your blood pressure, but only if you perceive that it makes you look younger.
  • Pretending to be a pilot improves your vision by around 40%.
  • Your blood sugar level (if you are diabetic) will rise and fall based more on your perception of time, than the actual time.
  • Imagining yourself getting the cold makes you 4 times more likely to actually get it.
  • Viewing your cancer (if you are a cancer survivor) as ‘cured’, as opposed to ‘in remission’, correlates to you being physically healthier, more energetic and less depressed.
  • You have about a 1 in 3 chance of healing yourself from virtually any disorder if you are given a placebo (an effect that remains even if you know it is a placebo).
  • Pretending you have travelled back in time (if you are elderly) significantly improves your strength, flexibility, posture, height, weight, hearing, vision, arthritis, and makes you look physically younger (!!) when judged by people blinded to the study.

Each of these scientific findings makes good sense when we see our mind and body as deeply connected, and understand that our beliefs are far more important than we give them credit for.

If you have a health problem that you can’t overcome, I think it is at least worth asking: is it because I actually can’t, or because I have been living in a society that has made me think that I actually can’t?

It’s healthy outside

Research shows that our environment has a significant impact on our health, mental functioning and well-being.

When we spend time outside and connect with nature:

  • our attention is restored,
  • our thinking expands, and
  • we gain a sense of relaxation and peace within us.

Immersing ourselves into an environment with plenty of greenery, trees or water is often what’s required when we feel overly stressed, need to clear our head, or wish to deeply reflect on life’s priorities or goals. 

In order to function best, both physically and mentally, we need and thrive on connection. Not only to ourselves and to others, but also, to the natural world around us.

One type of medicine that’s definitely worth taking

What if you read about a pill that could help to increase your:

  • metabolism
  • self-esteem
  • strength
  • mental abilities
  • physical performance
  • muscle mass, and also,
  • reduce your fat mass.

Would you take it?

Suppose you read further, and it did have a number of side effects, but they were all good. It too can improve:

  • how your cardiovascular system works, reducing your risk of heart disease
  • how your muscular system works, reducing your risk of diabetes, and
  • how your skeletal system works, reducing your risk of developing brittle bones later in life.

What’s more, this pill is perfectly natural, and doesn’t have to cost anything.

Now would you take it?

All the benefits of such a pill exist. They are found simply from doing resistance (weight) training.

Resistance training is not just for young men: everyone benefits. And resistance training doesn’t need to be done in a gym: squats, lunges and push ups are simple examples that can be done in the living room at home.

If you don’t do any resistance training now, what’s truly stopping you from starting as just a 15 minute practice once a week? If you don’t know how to, how can you find out from someone who does?

I think it’s interesting that we are waiting and hoping for a natural, affordable pill that will one day successfully deliver just one of these benefits, without the side effects.

The reality is, there is really no need to be waiting at all.

Healthy mind, healthy body

It is well-known that our emotions, both positive and negative, have a direct effect on our physical health. By definition, emotions have a physiological effect on our body, and it is in this way that they can strongly influence our health and vitality.

Feelings of chronic stress, anxiety or hopelessness, as just some examples, can increase the strain on our cardiovascular system and our risk of heart disease. Feelings of joy or excitement, on the other hand, strengthen our immune function and significantly lower our risk of colds and flu.

What is less well-known, but even more important, is that these emotions are influenced directly by how we think. We feel stressed because we think we can’t cope. We feel anxious because we think all about how it could go wrong. And we feel hopeless because we think that we will never find another way if this way fails.

Scientific findings show that optimism, which is the thinking process that concludes good things will happen, is associated with better cardiovascular health, and may also reduce cancer risk. This is an effect that parallels the benefits of high fruit and vegetable consumption.

Our mind and body are deeply connected. A desire to cultivate a healthy body starts with a desire to cultivate a healthy mind.

%d bloggers like this: