Have you ever realized the influence of our thoughts and mind on our body processes and functions?
The mind is capable of immense effects on your body. Your thoughts influence your body directly because your body translates the messages that come from the brain. This action of the body is extremely helpful to prepare you for whatever is expected. It has shown that neurotransmitters are affected by thoughts. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that permit the brain to communicate with several parts of the nervous system. They control all functions of the body, from feeling happy to modulating hormones and to dealing with stress (Breazeale, 2012).
The one type of mind-body connection is that body reacts to the way you feel, think, and act. When you are upset, anxious, and stressed, your body responds in a way that might guide you that something is not right. For example, after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of your loved one, you might experience a stomach ulcer, high blood pressure. Until about 300 years ago, the mind and the body were treated as a whole by every system of medicine in the whole world. During the 17th century, the mind and the body were started treated as two distinct things by the Western world. In the 20th century, researchers started to study the mind-body connection. They demonstrate complex links scientifically between the body and the mind. James Lake, MD, Integrative psychiatrist of Stanford University, say that:
“extensive research has confirmed the medical and mental benefits of meditation, mindfulness training, yoga, and other mind-body practices.”
The mind is not synonymous with the brain. The mind contains mental states such as emotions, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and images. The brain is the hardware. It permits us to experience all the mental states. These mental states can be completely conscious or unconscious. Each mental state has linked physiology with it, a positive or negative effect felt in the physical body. For example, stress hormones are produced as the result of the mental state, the anxiety.
Our thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs affect both positively and negatively our biological functioning. In other words, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are. According to Dr. James Gordon who is the founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine:
“the brain and peripheral nervous system, the endocrine and immune systems, and indeed, all the organs of our body and all the emotional responses we have, share a common chemical language and are constantly communicating with one another.”
The influence of negative thoughts in one’s mind causes stress. Stress affects all systems of our body that including respiratory, muscles, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, reproductive nervous, and reproductive systems. If the stress is severe and prolonged, it can cause many diseases. On the cardiovascular system, the effects of stress are not only stimulatory but also inhibitory (Ferguson et al., 2016). If these effects are results from activation of the sympathetic nervous system, then it causes an increase in heart rate, vasodilation in the arteries of skeletal muscles, strength of contraction, decrease in the excretion of sodium by the kidneys, and a narrowing of the veins, contraction of the arteries in the spleen and kidneys (Herd, 1991). Appetite is also affected by stress (Bagheri Nikoo et al., 2014). The process of absorption intestinal permeability, secretion of mucus and acid of stomach acid, a function of ion channels, and inflammation of GI tract (Collins, 2001). Stomach emptying is prohibited, and colonic motility is accelerated by it (Mönnikes et al., 2001). Besides, it has also been studied that visceral sensitivity is increased by mental and emotional types of stress. Activation of mucosal mast cells occurs by mental and emotional types of stress (Mönnikes et al., 2001). Several endocrine processes linked with the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands, the adrenergic system, thyroid, gonads, and the pancreas are either activated or changed by stress (Tilbrook et al., 2000). The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and stress hormones such as catecholamines that include adrenalin, noradrenaline, and dopamine and interact with hormones that are responsible for normal ovulatory cycles. It involves prolactin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, prolactin, LH, and FSH. Secretions of melatonin and endogenous opiates are changed by stress. It also interferes with ovulation. At the sex organs level, sympathetic innervation of the female reproductive system provides a way by which stress can influence fertility. Infertility caused by stress is increased as time goes and the couple remains infertile (Schenker et al., 1992). Memory is highly affected by stress. It depends on the time of exposure to the stressful stimulus (Schwabe et al., 2012). Current studies have shown that a specific-timed schedule of exposure to stress not only affects hippocampus-dependent memory but also affects striatum-dependent memory (Schwabe et al., 2010). Cognition is mainly affected by it and is also mainly formed in the hippocampus, amygdala, and temporal lobe. Stress causes the activation of some physiological systems such as the central neurotransmitter, system neuropeptide system, the autonomic nervous system, and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. These have direct effects on the neural circuits in the brain which are involved with the processing of data (McEwen & Sapolsky 1995). In the brain, stress can cause pathophysiologic alterations and these alterations can be expressed as cognitive, behavioral, and mood disorders (Li et al., 2008).
Here are some of the common psychological, physical, and emotional signs of chronic stress:
- Difficulty in sleeping.
- Poor problem-solving.
- Changes in behavior, including social withdrawal, frustration, feelings of sadness, inability to rest, loss of emotional control, and self-medication.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Change in appetite.
- Pain in the chest.
- Constipation or diarrhea.
The influence of positive thoughts in one’s mind causes happiness. Individuals that think positively suffer less stress, depression, and anxiety. Positive thinking cause better overall physical and emotional health, better coping skills, and a longer life span. It can be said that happy individuals who are happy have less chance to prone to mental diseases. Studies show that individuals who feel confident in themselves, can solve their problems and make better decisions. They can take more risks, strive to meet their personal goals, and assert themselves.
Here are some tips to replace negative thoughts with positive ones:
- Take time to praise yourself for the little things.
- Evaluate relationships in your personal.
- Surround yourself with those individuals who are positive and support you.
- Make positive statements to replace negative ones by using words such as happy, loving, peaceful, enthusiastic, and warm.
- Avoid negative words such as upset, worried, frightened, bored, tired, not, never, and cannot.
- Remember to smile.
- Be the best friend and supporter of you.
- Wear comfortable clothes, that express your style and that feels good to your body.
- Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your style, and that feel good to your body.
- Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
- Participate in a local walk to raise money for a charity.
- Clean up the environment.
- Live a balanced life.
- Develop resilience.
- Express your feelings in appropriate styles.
- Take care of yourself.
- Calm your mind and body.
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