Can Your Thoughts Directly Affect Your Digestion?

You are probably already aware that the way you treat your physical body (with a healthy diet, exercise, or even proper posture) can impact your mental state. But did you know that the reverse is also true? Believe it or not, your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can influence your biological functioning for the worse or the better. Your mind has the power to directly impact the health of your body! 

All of the body’s organs, coupled with emotional responses, share a common chemical language and constantly communicate with one another. This communication can explain why some people develop physical ailments (such as high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer) following a stressful event such as moving to a new home, beginning a new job, or experiencing the loss of a loved one. Ongoing stressors that you face throughout your life can slowly start to turn into physical ailments – a method that tells your body that something isn’t right.  

In addition, poor emotional health can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infection such as a cold or the flu. When you feel stressed emotionally, the healthy response of your white blood cells can suffer. Chronic stress or anxiety can make this even worse, slowly weakening your immune system. 

However, you can take critical steps to improve your emotional health. An easy first step to take is to initially recognize your stressors and emotions. Then, try to understand why you are having them. Understanding the causes of your emotions can help you to develop a plan to process them in a healthy way so you can effectively manage your future emotional health.  

Another way to manage stress, sadness, or anxiety is to express your feelings to a family member, a friend, or a healthcare professional. Confiding in someone else may also help relieve your own emotional burden. Gaining the perspectives of others can help you to understand your own feelings further.  

Living a balanced life (with a healthy diet, regular exercise, emotional stress management, and work-life balance) is one of the most beneficial steps you can take to improving your mental and physical health. Actively look for ways to focus on the positive things in your life, such as connecting with your family members and friends. Take a moment every day to appreciate your own health. Go for a walk to marvel at nature’s beautiful gifts. You will find even more ways to be grateful for the many blessings in your life.  

If you find yourself frequently ill, fatigued, or otherwise compromised, take time to reflect on your mental health. Since the health of your mind is critical to the health of your body, take time for a few moments of self-reflection or moments of meditation, deep breathing, or a series of relaxed yoga movements each day. Your body (and mind) will thank you! 

Resources

  1. Littrell, Jill. “The Mind-Body Connection: Not Just a Theory Anymore.” Social Work in Health Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18589562
  2. Staff, Familydoctor.org Editorial. “Mind/Body Connection: How Emotions Affect Health.” Familydoctor.org, 22 July 2019, familydoctor.org/mindbody-connection-how-your-emotions-affect-your-health/. 
  3. “What Is the Mind-Body Connection?” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing, www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-the-mind-body-connection.