The last time you had a cold, unspecified aches or pains, or just felt under the weather, did it occur to you that your state of mind might have had something to do with it? You may think "That's a crazy idea - I just caught a bug." And you did. However, there may have been underlying reasons why. Commonly these are:
1. Stress and how you cope or don't cope with it
2. Your subconscious beliefs about your health and body
Whether we recognize the symptoms or not, stress is a factor of daily life: getting stuck in a traffic jam when you are late; having an argument with a friend; your car breaking down on the freeway; discovering your checking account is overdrawn; a call from school because your child has gotten in trouble again... However, not all stress is caused by external factors. We do a great job of creating our own stress by excessively worrying about something that may or may not happen, or continually thinking pessimistic thoughts.
While we ordinarily think of stressors as being negative - an overwhelming work load, an exhausting schedule or a rocky relationship, any situation that makes high demands on us or forces change can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, receiving a promotion or moving to a new city.
For short periods of time stress can actually be beneficial. It helps you meet deadlines or challenges, and keeps you sharp and focused during a presentation at work or during a sports competition. But too much stress can overwhelm the body and make us sick, both mentally and physically. While our bodies are designed to handle short periods of stress, we are not equipped to handle long lasting, chronic stress without consequences. Prolonged stress raises blood pressure, creates tension in the body and compromises the immune system. Not only does a compromised immune system make you vulnerable to all the "bugs" out there, many other problems can be caused or worsened as well. Some of these include: heart disease, pain, depression, weight issues, auto immune diseases, skin conditions such as eczema and sleep disorders.
Subconscious beliefs play a large role in the state of your health as well. For over 50 years medical professionals have been demonstrating that the mind can heal the body by something known as the "placebo effect." A placebo is a substance that has no known medical benefits, such as sterile water, saline solution or a sugar pill. A placebo is nothing more than a fake treatment that in some cases can produce very real results. The expectation of the patient is key - the more a person believes the treatment will work the more likely it will. Less known is the placebo effect's ugly twin, the "nocebo effect." This is the placebo effect in reverse. If you believe something is harmful it most likely is or will be.
Negative beliefs can be extremely harmful to the human body. According to Bruce Lipton, a former medical school professor, research scientist and author of The Biology of Belief, we are what we believe. What we think we believe is not always the case. True beliefs are buried deep within our subconscious mind. Many of our beliefs were formed before we were old enough to separate fact from fiction, and we internalized whatever we heard and were told. Were you consistently sick as a child and considered to be too frail to have a normal life? How is your health now? Is there a correlation?
Growing up you may have repeatedly heard family members discuss how Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease or some other debilitating condition "runs in the family." If you believe it is inevitable you will succumb too, you are setting yourself up to be a sitting duck. Changing your belief does not guarantee you will never get that particular disease or condition, but it can help prevent it from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How can you use your mind to protect and improve your health? Positive thinking is vital, but it won't change deeply ingrained subconscious beliefs. As Albert Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." If positive thinking alone could keep us well, many doctors would be out of business and hospitals would be much emptier. Both EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and PSYCH-K® (Psychological Kinesiology) work at the subconscious level of the mind and are powerful tools, both for managing stress and changing subconscious beliefs. Rob Williams, originator of PSYCH-K®, explains that this technique "is a simple and direct way to change self-limiting beliefs at the subconscious level of the mind, where nearly all human behavior originates, both constructive and destructive." While appearing deceptively simple, PSYCH-K® is not something to attempt yourself unless you have been properly trained to use it. Find a professional practitioner who can work with you to identify and change negative beliefs that might be sabotaging your health. On the other hand, EFT can easily be learned and practiced any time. Do yourself a favor and learn more about how these modalities might help you prevent illness and maintain good health, especially as you grow older.