Mind Over Matter - How To Improve your Health Naturally

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

The single most important predictor of your long-term health and well-being isn’t how much you eat or what kinds of food you eat. (Though these are important to your health and well-being). Your state of mind is actually a much more important predictor of your long-term health and well-being than any other single factor.

Multiple studies affirm that a mind-body connection exists. Even more importantly, studies show that your mental state can affect your biochemistry. Why is that important? Your biochemistry controls the way your body feels, burns fat and even ages. Multiple conditions can influence your mental state. Your opinions of yourself, self-esteem, support system, environment and even feelings all influence your mental well-being.

The Link Between Emotions and Attitudes
Our emotions are intimately tied to our bodies. Doctors have repeatedly stressed that illness is often a direct result of mental and emotional stress overload. That means anxiety, stress, tension and worry can all affect your physical well-being. The idea that illness is ‘in your head’ may not always be as far-fetched as it seems. The truth of the matter is much of illness is in our heads. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem. It does mean however, that we have more control than we realize over our health and well-being.

Take for example the person that is chronically stressed. They may be overworked. They may feel they are overpaid. They may feel unorganized and depressed. This person may start eating poorly and smoking. They may drink too much or sleep too little. All of these habits are the result of a poor mental state. The physical consequences of eating poorly and smoking are real. In this case, an improved emotional and mental outlook may significantly improve one’s physical health and well-being.

We’ve all heard stories of miracles where people claim to have used the power of their mind to combat seriously illnesses like cancer. It’s not uncommon for optimistic patients to report a better health outcome and quality of life than those with a poor mental outlook. In fact, when it comes to your health, your mind may be the most important predictor of your chances for survival.

There are some studies that support psychosocial intervention as a means of improving survival. However, much skepticism still exists within the medical community as there are an equal number of studies refuting the mind-body connection.

Nothing To Loose
The fact of the matter is this… you have nothing to use by learning how to use your mind to heal your inner self and well-being. If nothing else you will feel better about yourself and remain positive despite the worst of circumstances. Chances are a healthy dose of positive visualization, meditation and relaxation therapy are what most people need to feel a little better no matter what their current state of health. Most people will admit they fell worse when excessively stressed. Exercising your mind is the best step you can take to overcome stress. Stress is scientifically proven to contribute to a host of physical health problems including high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. If nothing else, by exercising your mind you may lessen the impact stress has on your physical and emotional well-being. The question is where do you start?

Where Do You Start?
There are many disciplines that stress the mind-body connection. Most of these encourage practitioners to focus on improving their mental health and well-being. Some typical fitness activities that promote a mind body connection include:
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Tai Chi
  • Reflexology
Regular exercise can also help improve your mental outlook. Exercise helps stimulate your body to produce endorphins and other feel good chemicals that keep you going through the day. Meditation is valuable. You don’t have to be a ‘guru’ to meditate. Simply take five minutes out of every day for yourself. Sit in a quiet place and allow your thoughts and feelings to just be. Don’t worry about evaluating every thought that passes through your head. Some people prefer to take themselves to a favorite place. I for example, prefer to sit and pretend that I am at the beach watching the sun go down.

Remember, anyone can find time to meditate (even if you have to do it in the bathroom). As a mom with two kids under two, I will even use the bathroom as an excuse to find my quiet time. You can even take five minutes while lying in bed just before you go to sleep. This can be hard however, if you are exhausted as you may sleep before you have time to connect with yourself. Remember, the mind is our most powerful ally for combating disease and illness. Use it wisely and regularly and you’ll reap the full benefits.