There is so much talk about the obesity crisis in this country. About how genetically modified food and contaminated water is affecting us. We hear on the radio and TV about the peril of sugary sodas, fast food and a high BMI. We’re told to exercise daily, decrease our calorie intake and keep our blood sugar under control, but so little is talked about stress and the mind-body connection and how our thoughts and words affect our health.
We hear a lot about stress, what we fail to remember is that stress isn’t really the problem. Yes, you heard that right; stress is not the problem because we can’t control the stress. We can’t control the taxes, we can’t control the traffic or the delayed flight, we can’t control the person in front of us is taking too long when we’re in a rush. But what we can control is our reaction to those things and that we can do in our own minds with our own words.
The power of words is vast. We see that when a little child falls and looks to mom and dad to wait for their tone to see if they should panic or not. We see it when we yell at an animal and it cowers and we all know how much we can hurt someone with our words. So, it stands to reason that our own words are going to affect us as well. But how? Multiple studies show that using positive thoughts and affirmations can speed healing and improve sports and athletic performance. Why do we not take advantage of this skill? I’m not saying we should abandon doctors and our diets and just think ourselves well but even if mindset contributes 5 to 10% towards the outcome why would we not take that?
Experts estimate we have about 60,000 thoughts a day and the 50,000 of those are negative. And we wonder why we’re not achieving our goals. Changing our thinking can change our health and our lives. The first thing to do is notice an area where you tend towards negativity. Maybe it is your physical health, your finances or your relationships. Identify what area you seem to need help with. And then really pay attention to how you language those situations. Maybe you say things like, “I can’t afford that, I never have enough, I’ll never find someone who loves me, I’m fat, I’m ugly, my body is weak, my stupid neck hurts.” Or even something like, “I can’t do math.” The more we say and think these things the more our body (and some believe our environment) is apt to oblige. If you’ve seen movies like The Secret or What the Bleep Do We Know, there are certainly people out there that believe we can change our external circumstances by how we think and what energy we put out.
But let’s focus on the body. Rather than thinking, “I hope I’m not getting sick, don’t get near me you’ll get me sick, every year at this time I get sick.” Think things like, “I am healthy and well, my immune system is strong and resilient, my body knows how to fight off any germs.” When working with affirmations make them short, in the present and positive. “I am fabulous!” Not “Someday I’ll not be broke.” In changing our thinking, we actually can boost our immune system and get sick less often. At the very least that worry and negative thinking activates our stress response. And long-term stress depletes our immune system. So changing our thinking helps in multiple ways.
Since our minds cannot tell the difference between what we are thinking about and imagining and what is really happening around us we have enormous power to change what’s happening in our physical bodies. If we are worrying about being sick or dying our bodies are going to respond with a stress response. If we remember a time when we were sick or fearful our bodies are going to respond with a stress response. This is why it’s so important to stay in the present moment and not dwell on the past or worry about the future. Because here, in this present moment, right now, where is the stress? That stress is somewhere else, the past and the future. Using techniques like mindfulness, meditation, visualization and affirmations we can work on keeping ourselves in the present moment healthy, well and stress-free.
Examples of affirmations:
I am healthy and well.
I am prosperous and abundant.
I am surrounded by supportive and loving friends.
I have plenty of time.
I accept money from unexpected sources.
I deserve love.
I am fabulous.
I run fast.
My body is strong and flexible.
I am patient and understanding.
Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD is the author of five books including the award-winners Conquer your Stress, Journey of Healing and The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. She has lectured around the world on stress and mind/body medicine and can be reached through www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com