Last month we talked a little about "mindfulness", hopefully reminding you of the benefits to staying in the present moment. While focusing your thoughts to the present, it's one thing to say "think positive, beautiful thoughts", but it's not easy sometimes to keep negative thoughts out of our brain. This month, especially with many of us more "mindful" of that most powerful emotion - love - in our lives, let's uncover some of the science behind how our thoughts affect us.
According to Scientific American, in an article called
The Science of Healing Thoughts
, January 2016: "There are now several lines of research suggesting that our mental perception of the world constantly informs and guides our immune system in a way that makes us better able to respond to future threats." The author, Jo Marchant, discusses research on the placebo effect, along with other brain studies that demonstrate the potential of psychological approaches for treating pain.
But what if we are not already in pain or distress? Can our thoughts actually make us sick? While the placebo effect demonstrates how positive thinking affects our health in a positive way, there is the opposite, called the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect demonstrates the physiological effects of negative belief, fear, and anxiety.
These negative emotions trigger the amygdala in the limbic brain to send out a red alert that activates the "fight-or-flight" stress response. According to Dr. Lissa Rankin,
founder of the
Whole Health Medicine Institute,
when the nervous system is in "fight-or-flight," the body's self-repair mechanisms don't function properly and the body is predisposed to illness. All because you thought yourself sick.
At the Harvard School of Public Health, researcher Laura Kubzansky has specialized in studies about the effect of emotions on health. She found that "emotional vitality - a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life's stresses with emotional balance - appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
But she also speaks about the importance of being in the moment. "Everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment," she says, "to find a restorative state that allows them to put down their burdens." Whether your mindfulness moments come from taking a walk, listening to music, meditation, or even occasionally getting a massage - try to make it a part of your daily life.
This month our specials make great gift certificates for loved ones on Valentine's Day. Massage gift certificates are a wonderful way to show appreciation and to receive it back! And don't forget taking just as good care of yourself as you do for those around you.