‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re usually right’
– Henry Ford
The last workshop of the Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well series, THINK WELL, looked at how poor mental/emotional stress is destructive for your health and what you can do to move closer towards optimum health and wellbeing.
If you ask the question ‘what determines who we are?’ most people will confidently give you the answer ‘our genes’. In fact, the definition of the word gene (according to the Merriam Webster dictionary) is part of a cell that controls or influences the appearance, growth, etc., of a living thing. But what if you also knew that genes are expressed differently in the body depending on environmental stimulus. The study of this is called epigenetics.
The human body will always be in one of two states.
- Normal physiology (homeostatic cell function), which increases health, happiness, vitality and longevity, or,
- Adaptive physiology (non-homeostatic cell function), which decreases, health, happiness, vitality and longevity and lead to disease and sickness.
These two states work like a seesaw, you can’t be moving towards one without moving away from the other. You will either be moving towards disease and sickness, or towards homeostasis, health and wellbeing. We are all programmed for health! Our physiology – how we look, our body fat, our muscle mass, our bone density, our posture, our skin health, our joints and much more – is determined by the lifestyle choices we make. This in turn determines the environment that the cells of our body are exposed to and therefore how they express their genes – which brings the circle back to our physiology or our current state of health (the academic term for this is the phenotypic expression of our genotype).
The shift towards disease and sickness is triggered by the opposite…AKA negative stress.
Hans Selye, one of the early pioneers of research into stress, coined the terms eustress and distress in his work around the General Adaptive Syndrome to look at the different impact on physiology it may have.
From a psychological point of view, the Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (2003) state stress is caused by a combination of physical, chemical or emotional factors that ‘exceed a persons adaptive capacities and threaten their wellbeing’.
Certain adaptions that the body undergoes when exposed to a stressful stimuli include (but are not limited to) an increase in cortisol, heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood clotting factors and a resistance to insulin. These are all very useful bodily adaptions if your stress is coming from the sighting of a wild animal that may kill and consume you, or if someone has challenged you to a dual, or you see a toddler trapped under a car (as well as other emergency situations that may arise in modern day life). But when your stress has no immediate release, all of those smart adaptions stick around for a long time and wreak havoc in your body systems (and ‘threaten your wellbeing’).
These stressful stimuli can be physical, biochemical, and emotional – factors that can impact your spinal health and lead to vertebral subluxation.
Concentrating on the emotional element of stress, let’s look at what you can do to help yourself THINK WELL and achieve emotional health and wellness.
James Chestnut defines an innately healthy state of mind as emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellness*. There are three major components in your life which determine these things:
- Your lifestyle choices (what you choose to engage in to stimulate your conscious and subconscious mind)
- Interpretation and value placement of the events and surroundings that you encounter (the internal dialogue you use to interpret and value – your current belief system and state of physiology will greatly influence this)
- Your body’s genetic interpretation and then physiological expression (expressed in response to your internal dialogue)
An important thing to consider is value placement. Everyone has things that they innately value and care for. If an event is perceived to be supportive to your values you will open up to it, if not, you will tend to shut yourself off to it or not enjoy experiencing it. Therefore it is important to determine what your values are and work on making your personal lifestyle choices congruent with them. This will help move your body’s genetic interpretation and physiological expression more towards homeostasis and health rather than one of adaption and abnormal physiology.
So this is how your internal dialogue and state of mind can determine your physiology and level of health and wellness. Here are a few resources and suggestions you can investigate to help yourself think well:
- Determine your values (https://drdemartini.com/value_determination)
- Relaxation techniques
- Meditation (there’s a million and one apps you can download for guided meditation to start you off)
- Exercise (movement charges your brain cells and releases endorphins)
- Positive thinking (adjust the perception of your environment)
- Don’t relive stressful events
- Become organised
- Take care of taxing tasks in the morning (don’t spend all day dwelling on and worrying about them! Read this http://fourhourworkweek.com/2013/11/03/productivity-hacks/ for brilliant tips on this)
- Review your expectations (be realistic and make SMART goals)
- Life coaching
- Keep a sense of humour (learn to laugh at yourself)
- Reading or listening to music (or other activities that appeal to you)
- Write a journal (a good way of expressing feelings on certain events)
- Check out this helpful resource: http://liveyourlegend.net/
- Regular Chiropractic Adjustments (see our next blog for why)
Remember that to really hit the nail on the head in your journey towards health and wellness you need to address not only your state of mind, but also your nutritional and fitness states. They all work together and help each other out. If you’re deficient in one, you won’t be able to best utilise the effects of another. Go for it!
- Emotional Wellness
- Choosing belief systems and internal dialogue based upon the innate values of unconditional love and forgiveness of self and others, optimism and the desire to learn, grow, and define and strive to achieve a life purpose.
- Intellectual Wellness
- The desire, enjoyment, and practice of lifelong learning about yourself, your world, and your purpose and role in it.
- Spiritual Wellness
- Consistent explorations regarding the ultimate source of the universe, life, love and consciousness that result in well defined innate personal values and congruent belief systems and life purpose. Consistently thinking and acting congruently with your innate values. Regular constructive critique of your actions, belief systems and purpose to ensure consistent congruency. Having a life purpose that enriches your own life and the lives of others.