Mind-body medicine: Stress and the power of belief

Life is a subjective experience for each of us. How you interpret any event in your  life determines your view of life.

mind-bodyHow you perceive your environment can be more important to your well-being than the actual environment itself.  Your perception also impacts your state of health because your mind and body are deeply connected. The old belief of genes controlling our biology is not completely valid. Genes are not independent. They can’t just turn themselves off and on. Instead, they’re triggered by environmental cues. It’s the cells’ reaction to these cues that determine the eventual impact on the genetic expression in our bodies.  

You change your beliefs about your environment and you can also change your reaction to it. As a result, you can literally reprogram your cells to react differently. For example, positive and negative thoughts can be the difference between the curing of disease or the persistence of symptoms. By choosing an informed, realistic and positive attitude, you’re giving yourself the power to influence your health in a profound way.

Stress as the source of mind-body illness

The way stress converts to symptoms in the body is through the fight-or-flight response. When stressed, your body secretes adrenalin and corticosteroids. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase. Oxygen and nutrients divert from your digestive and immune systems to the musculoskeletal system, preparing you for a battle or a quick escape.

In the short run, this response works extremely well to ensure your survival. But if you endure long-term stress (sympathetic overload), this response can contribute to chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and increased heart rate, increased chances of heart attacks and strokes, suppressed digestive system (this can lead to ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome), compromised immune system, and increased vulnerability to all diseases It may also decrease how quickly you heal.

What’s surprising about the fight-or-flight response is that it’s activated whether you’re faced with real danger or only irrational fear. Your brain can easily interpret non-threatening situations as threatening. Irrational fears and worries result in an inappropriate response to stress. If prolonged, this mental and physical strain can damage your health.

Meditation. Photo credit: Dreamstime

Meditation. Photo credit: Dreamstime

You can manage stress better by improving communication skills, practicing yoga, meditation, and positive affirmations. Proper nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep are also necessary along with proper structure and function of the human frame which is integrated directly with the central nervous system. To decrease stress, you need to change your reaction to it. This is a skill –  it can be learned and improved upon with practice.

References: Biology of Belief. Dr Bruce Lipton

Disclaimer: This is intended as information to make changes to your health & well-being and is not a substitute for professional health care and diagnosis.


By Scott Oliver DC, BKin, June 2013. Scott  is available for public speaking for your business, group, or organization.


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