You’ve heard people say that having the right attitude can make you healthier when you’re sick. It sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but there’s a lot of science backing this theory up.
Underneath the surface, your mental and physical health are interconnected in various ways. If you’re feeling out of sorts, it could be an imbalance in your brain triggering symptoms in your mind or body.
To better understand what’s going on when you’re not your normal self, check out these 4 ways your body and mind are connected. It could help you pinpoint the next step to feeling better.
How you feel plays a role in your thoughts and behaviour
Think about the last time you tried to do your job when you were under the weather. Your sniffles, sneezes, sore throat, or nausea probably meant you weren’t operating on all cylinders. Your thoughts kept swerving from the task at hand to your miserable symptoms, and you weren’t happy.
Imagine doing the same job after you were just given an award for your dedication and hard work at the company. Your happy hormones are still swirling around your body, and you’re sharing that giddy feeling with everyone you interact with. Your work is more likely to be done efficiently and productively, too.
In these scenarios, there is no distinction between the mind and body. How you feel impacts your thoughts and behavior. But if you could change your thinking and switch your mindset to being grateful about something, you’d find that you soon feel better overall.
Your body responds to stress
One of the oldest genetic traits we have as humans is the fight-or-flight response. This begins in our amygdala, where our brain produces hormones that warn us of danger.
The problem is that the level of hormone production is often conditioned by our lives. The more stress we’re under, the quicker the amygdala is to scream, Run! or Fight!
This is why everyone responds to triggers differently. We each have a distinctly unique set of life experiences that we’ve gone through, and we’ve been taught or conditioned to handle stress in various ways.
The good news is that you can retrain your amygdala to chill out. Certain wellness benefits from activities like meditation, yoga, and other lifestyle adjustments help you adjust to stress and lower the hormone release when you’re triggered.
Your nutrition matters
Most of us don’t realise the connection between what we fuel our bodies with and how we feel. At a molecular level, your brain and body rely on the nutrients you feed it for the systems to run optimally.
If you’re not giving your body the essential nutrients it needs, how can it do its job? It’s like attempting to put Kool-Aid in your car and expecting it to drive you places. For some people, we fuel our bodies with so much junk that it’s more akin to adding kerosene to the gas tank. Eventually, the match will light, and your body won’t be able to handle what you’re feeding it any longer.
Studies show that mental health conditions like depression are linked to low Vitamin D levels. This is only one of the countless ways your nutrition connects to your mind.
When you’re feeling low, you don’t go
Finally, consider how hard it is to push yourself to go out with friends and family when you’re not ‘feeling’ like it. You’re depressed or moody, and you just don’t want to deal with other people.
But if you force yourself to go, what happens? Most of the time, you end up enjoying yourself and feeling better. It truly is a case of mind over matter. Your mind can win if you push your body to do what you know is best.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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