::::Your Thoughts are Showing::::
So, how does the mind and body affect each other? Today we are going to go through some of the ways your THOUGHTS show up in your body.
The body’s stress hormones, which include adrenaline and cortisol, are designed to have a short term effect, giving us enough physical energy and strength to get out of dangerous situations.
This surge of ‘Fight-Flight’ hormones (which is a state most of us live in on a day to day basis!) can have temporary effects such as a raised heart rate, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath. However, when these hormones are released frequently, they are thought to have a longer term effect on the body, affecting how it works as a whole. This may make it harder for the body to keep all of its organs and systems working, as they should, for example:
1. The immune system may be less effective when stress hormones are released regularly chronic stress. This may be because the body focuses on the task it sees as most important, avoiding the threat, rather than using energy to detect infections, for example, and keep them under control.
2. Healing is slowed down. Like the immune system, when the body believes it is under attack it puts tasks that are not immediately essential, like repairing damaged cells, on the back-burner. While this is OK in the short-term, in the long term it can cause physical problems by slowing down recovery.
3. Digestion, like healing, is also put on the back burner during times of stress which can lead to digestive disc
Other ways your thoughts are showing include:
Our expectations about what is about to happen can affect the kind of experience we have. For example, studies have shown that people expecting to feel pain report stronger pain when given a harmless electric shock compared with those not expecting pain given the same shock. This could mean that expecting examinations or procedures to be painful and unpleasant, and thinking about the pain you expect to feel, could actually make the experience worse.
Feeling down or depressed can have effects on your body. Fatigue, poor sleep, changes in appetite as well as increased aches and pains are all associated with feeling down and depression. It can be difficult to tell these physical symptoms apart from the other symptoms you may be having.
When you are frightened or anxious you can also get lots of physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, shaking, feeling dizzy and feeling sick. Although these symptoms are not dangerous, they are often unpleasant and you can wrongly think they are signs of a more serious condition.
The changes that happen in your body when you are angry are similar to those that happen when you are anxious. Your heart may beat faster, you may start to sweat and feel hot and tense. Others may notice you becoming quite flushed and red in the face.
Things you do… and things you don’t do
Some things you do will have a good effect on your body and mind such as eating a good diet, exercising and having a good sleep routine. Making time for enjoyable things such as hobbies and getting out and meeting people can also help (see page nine). Other things such as smoking, using drugs or drinking too much alcohol can have a bad long-term effect on your physical and emotional well-being even though they seem to help in the short term.
Avoiding things because of fear, feeling down or physical discomfort can make life easier in the short term. This is because you do not have to face the thing you fear, overcome the feeling that you cannot be bothered, or have more unpleasant physical symptoms. But in the long term this can be unhelpful. For example, you can become more anxious because you never find out if your fears would come true. It can mean that you keep feeling down or feel even worse because you never get a chance to have fun, pleasure and a sense of achievement. It can also make you sure that you cannot have a full and vibrant life without unpleasant physical symptoms, which may not be true.
Are you becoming more aware of how your thoughts are showing? Take a moment and journal, or make a list of the physical symptoms you are experiencing.
Tomorrow we will go through the positive effects of how our thoughts affect our wellness story