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What Makes us more Vulnerable to Illness- Part 3 Thoughts

 

 [The Foolish Couple are founders of the Foco Academy, nutrition specialists and success coaches. We focus on teaching Jack Canfield’s Success Principles and applying the principles to the 3 areas of life that money can’t buy, that is, Health, Time, and Love Relationship.]

Hi everyone – I’m Sandra (and I’m Andy) and welcome to our third installment of our 4-part series of addressing What makes Us More Vulnerable to Illness. 

In the earlier parts of our series, we looked at the importance of food as well as our sleep, and how we can utilize specific practices to not only make us less vulnerable to illness, but to strengthen and heal our bodies so we can live longer and healthier lives. 

 

Today, we will examine our thoughts – looking at how ‘what we think’ impacts our bodies, and our health.

 

We’re so happy that you are here today.  Let’s get started!

 

This is a great place to start.  So, what do our thoughts have to do with our health?  Could they really play a role in influencing our health?  Well, let’s back this up a bit and put some context behind this.

 

Some researchers have determined that we think a thought up to 6,000 times a day.  That would seem to indicate that our minds are extremely busy.  But about what are we actually thinking?  Are these happy thoughts related to an event or person?  Are these thoughts full of anger?  Or fear? Or are we just focused on whatever is happening in the moment, as you are thinking about traffic and the cars around you as you are driving your car? 

 

We know some things for sure.  In fact, we know that people who have positive thoughts and emotions in their everyday lives tend to be happier, healthier, learn better and get along more with others.  But what exactly are thoughts and emotions?

 

Well, there is a difference. 

A thought is something you are thinking.  And what we are thinking can occur on both a conscious and subconscious level – meaning, that we are aware of some of our thoughts, and we are also unaware of some of our thoughts. 

An emotion is an unconscious thought because an emotion is you feeling something about something.  For instance, a thought can create an emotion  - like worrying that might be created when you think about your health or job.

 

Let’s have some fun with this and look at the top 10 positive emotions.  As I go through these, see how many of these that you believe you experience – hourly, daily, weekly…

 

Number one is ‘Love’, followed by:

Serenity

Forgiveness

Awe

Joy

Interest

Hope

Pride

Amusement

and Inspiration

 

How did these words make you feel?  Are there any on this list that you would like to try to increase or maximize? Are there some here that made you pause to think?

 

This is a great list Andy.  These are certainly emotions that we would all love to have in abundance!  And to balance things out, let’s have a look at the other side of things – because if there are positive thoughts and emotions with all their great benefits, there are certainly negative ones as well.

 

So while Andy just provided us with a list of the positive Top 10, let’s have a look at a Top 10 list of the negative.  How about:

Fear

Anger

Disgust

Jealousy

Hatred

Rage

Revenge

Loneliness

Sadness

and Annoyance

 

Those words can evoke very strong emotions.   Perhaps some of these words even resonated with you as I read them out.  ‘Fear’ is listed at the top because fear is amongst the most powerful of all emotions. And incidentally, often the most abundant emotion.  And since emotions are more powerful than thoughts, it means that fear can overcome even the strongest parts of our intelligence.

 

This is important to note because as the coronavirus was evolving, an Italian-based artificial intelligence company called Expert Systems, was tracking and analyzing the most dominant emotions expressed in social media posts across the globe.  It noted that for days on end, that the top emotion was fear.  It also noted that both positive and neutral thoughts were decreasing, and that negative thoughts, and negative thoughts predominately of fear, were increasing.

 

Here is a chart prepared by Expert Systems that schematically displays their findings - the different categories of emotions, with negative ones in shades of red, neutral ones in shades of amber, and positive emotions in shades of green.

 

But how exactly does this – or any negative thought or emotion, translate into impacting health?  Andy made the connection with positive thoughts – and for negative thoughts, the process is complex but rather straight forward.  There are bodies of writings that offer some brilliant insight into the mind-body connection. 

One person in particular, called Louise Hay, authored many books, but her publication called ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ provides lists of actual physical conditions that she pairs with the thinking and emotional mindset thought to be behind their manifestation.  It may be of great interest and value to you to read this or other such similar books to develop a greater understanding of this connection in the context of your personal thoughts to your actual health and healing.

 

To examine ‘thoughts’ a little more closely, there is the term called ‘psycosomatic’ which refers to real physical symptoms arising from or being influenced by the mind and emotions, rather than being the result of an organic cause within the body like an injury or illness.  But beyond psychosomatic conditions – which clearly shows the power of the mind – there is also statistical evidence of how negative thoughts and emotions set the body up to fail. 

 

There is real illness that results from thoughts, beyond the realm of anything psychosomatic.  Negative thoughts and emotions create stress in our bodies.  We know that stress can produce symptoms like headaches and stomach aches.  Likely most or all of us listening here today have experienced this – how being anxious or worried about something created physical symptoms for us.  And we know that stress, when going unchecked, can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  There is a substantial growing body of research dedicated to understanding how negative thoughts and emotions are linked to serious health problems. 

 

Overall, when we have stress, or poor emotional health, whether over time or during emotionally difficult periods, we know that this weakens our immune system.  This increases the likelihood of catching colds, developing infections and falling into the path of other diseases and conditions.  To tie this back to the fact that as the pandemic was unfolding that the predominant emotion was fear…with fear creating stress, might our immune systems be reduced or impaired while trying to fight off the coronavirus, should anybody have been exposed to this virus?  That’s certainly something to think about because are we really optimally prepared to fight off the virus?  Are our immune systems optimal to provide us with the best chance of surviving?  It became clear that there were a couple of key factors to living through a COVID-19 diagnosis: such as not having pre-existing conditions AND having a great immune system.  Through functional nutrition and making sound dietary and lifestyle decisions, you are able to minimize the existence of such conditions and maximize the impact of your immune system.

 

That’s great Sandra.  It is certainly powerful and perhaps somewhat comforting to know that we are all able to make decisions to help us stay healthy or become healthier.  My wife and I practice positive thoughts all the time and look for the positives in every negative situation.

There are many lessons we can learn from the Coronavirus pandemic. Rather than focusing on the negatives thoughts such as will I catch it, will I die, it sucks being stuck at home. Focus on the positives, you have more time to spend with your family at home, you can work on your Honey-do list that you promised and never had time to do and most importantly, people are more conscious about washing their hands now especially after going to restroom. Now that is a positive if there was any!

 

This is a perfect time to look into the impact of stress a little further.  There are 4 main categories of stress to know – and this helps you understand if you are experiencing stress – or if you already know if you are stressed, this helps you determine to what degree you are being impacted.

 

The 1st area is about the Emotional Symptoms of stress: are you more agitated, frustrated, moody, or feeling bad about yourself?  Do you feel overwhelmed or that you are losing control? 

The 2nd deals with Physical Symptoms: with symptoms including low energy, headaches, stomach aches, tense muscles in your body or jaw, insomnia or cold and sweaty hands and feet. 

The 3rd is related to Cognitive Symptoms: which include forgetfulness, having poor judgement, constant worrying, forgetfulness and disorganization. 

And the 4th area is related to Behavioral Symptoms of stress that include trying to avoid people, procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities, and having an increased use of drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.  This may also include exhibiting more nervous-like behaviors like nail biting and fidgeting.

 

It is important for all of us to go through these items systematically and determine – even in a rough sense – if you are experiencing stress levels that are too high for you.  It’s subjective for sure.  Meaning, some people seem to be able to tolerate higher levels of stress than others.  But make no mistakes about it.  You can’t fool your body.  Ever.  And your body is smarter than you.  It will let you know, one way or another that things are too out of balance for you.  Your symptoms will appear more frequently.  Your symptoms may become more intense.  And you may discover new symptoms.  Perhaps you even get diagnosed with something.  These are all unmistakable signs that you need to step back, evaluate what’s going on, and make some changes.  Even one change can start tipping the scale back to better health.

 

And in terms of what to do about this - from the perspective of stress, there are powerful and effective techniques to minimize its impact – these include mindfullness, meditating, taking walks or Epsom salt baths, journaling, sleeping adequately, and eating well.  But it’s also important to know the source or sources of your stress.  This lets you put it into context.  Is this stress unavoidable?  Will this stress work itself out in time and no longer exist?  This lets you determine the type of stress-mitigation technique you need to employ – because it’s one thing to know that the stress is soon going away – versus thinking that you will have it forever.  And if you believe you will have it forever, this is time to take serious stock of things, because the impact of long-term stress and negative emotions has a serious impact on our bodies. 

 

A whole series of movements have come to light over a number of years including the practice of positive psychology and the psychology of happiness.  So, are you able to influence the number of thoughts you have in a day, with the effect of quieting your mind?  Are you able to modify the types of thoughts you have – can you make them more positive…or perhaps just less negative?

 

These are great questions Andy.  And they are questions that may even be difficult for each of us to answer. 

As we always say in our discussions, your body can only perform to the standards of what you give it to function. 

 

So, for our Top 5 Thought Takeaways from today to help make your body less vulnerable to illness - these are:

1 – There is no mystery in the connection between our thoughts and our health: thoughts impact our emotions and emotions impact our health.  It’s a chain reaction.

2 – Each of us has the ability to alter our thoughts – every single thought, for better or for worse.

3 – Take stock of your thoughts – over 3 days, keep tab whether your thoughts fall into a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ category.  If more negative, see what you can do about reframing them to something more positive, or neutral

4 – Take stock of your emotions – over a different 3 days (when you are not keeping track of your thoughts), keep tab whether your emotions fall into a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ category.  If  they are more negative, identify what is behind the negative ones.  Look for trends to see what part of your life is needing more attention.      

5 – Identify 1 way that you can lower your stress, and implement it for one entire week.  Write down how you feel both before and after you do this to see if there is any change. 

We are so happy that you chose to be with us today.  And as always, we are always excited to hear from you.  Please let us know if you have any questions about today’s session.  And let us know what’s on your mind – what topics would you like us to talk about?  Thank you so much for being here!

 

I’m Sandra and I’m Andy. 

 

Until next time, love what you live, and live what you love. 

We can help you. We have created a 7-part mini-series on boosting your immune system. It is our gift to you for a limited time only. So if you want to change direction, and work on your health, follow the link here and register. You will get instant access to this 7-part series, free of charge and full of valuable information. We even throw in some bonuses for you. 

So click here to  get started on your optimal health.

 

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