In part one, I wrote about physical detoxification and about food and environmental pollution detoxification. I focused on how the foods we eat, the water we drink and the skin care products we use impact our health. I am now going to talk about the mind-body connection. and how our minds/attitudes can change our physiology, how to take control of our health, and heal ourselves with very little, if any, medical intervention. I was going to write on how light and electrical pollution has been found to be very dangerous to our health; however, due to the length of this article, I will be posting another article on the dangers and solutions to electromagnetic exposure in the near future.
Let’s get started
The term, mind/body connection has been thrown around and misused in many circles. Our minds are our bodies and vice-versa. The only thing that separates the two, in reality, is the fact that our brains have no pain receptors. Therefore, we cannot tell when something is going “right” or “wrong” in our brain. Inflammation of the brain has been linked to depression, Depression is caused from inflammation and so it leads to reason that decreasing inflammation can help a depressed person. Just like a diabetic who has neuropathy in their feet and cannot feel the nail they stepped on, our brains are in a similar situation. Inflammation can have many causes. Stress and a poor diet are the primary culprits. Increased cortisol levels are a result of stress, which, in turn, causes inflammation.
Let’s take a look at stress:
According to Mayo Clinic: “Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn’t mean that life is free of stress. On the contrary, you undoubtedly face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result, you may feel as if you’re constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don’t have to let stress control your life.
Understanding the natural stress response
When you encounter a perceived threat- a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance- your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
When the natural stress response goes haywire
The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.” Even “good” stress can cause the adrenals to overreact.
Coping with stress
In order to treat stress, we need to realize we are under stress. For example, it is not natural for a person to sit in a projectile (automobile) and go 70mph, but many of us do this daily. Our modern lifestyles do not allow for much in the way of alleviating and managing stress in a healthy way. Many people will resort to drinking to calm their nerves. This is a temporary solution which actually makes the cortisol levels in the body rise. Alcohol and cortisol levels Also, we are very much isolated in our modern world. There have been studies showing that breast cancer survivors are five times more likely to survive if they have a strong support system of friends and family. Social isolation causes cortisol levels to rise, giving way to inflammation in the body. This affects all our organs, but especially our heart and endocrine systems. Social isolation also leads to higher cortisol levels
Tips on coping with and alleviating stress
It is important to realize that each person will react to stress in a different way. Age, sex, cultural background, social support, emotional, physical and spiritual health all contribute to how a person reacts to and handles stress. The following is a general guideline for handling stress and stress reduction
- Plan ahead. The simple act of planning almost anything helps reduce the potential for stress tremendously. Look at all aspects of your life. From meal planning to physical activity to social functions to a quiet time for meditation- these all help reduce stress and keep our lives in balance.
- Rethink your priorities. In our fast-paced world, we can start to take on too many projects and start to feel overwhelmed. I recently heard a saying “You can do anything but not everything.” This applies to all parts of our lives. Sitting down and writing out priorities will give you a better picture as to what is truly important in your life. I use a planner to put down those things that I must do, should do, and want to do. Make sure you have meaningful social interaction as one of your priorities, along with meditation and prayer every day to calm and clear the mind.
- Reduce unnecessary clutter. Whether it is actual physical clutter or clutter in not organizing or the clutter in our heads, getting rid of that which does not serve us is a step in the right direction. Clear out those things that do not serve you anymore. Whether it is a garage or closet that needs organizing, or thoughts that serve no productive purpose, work on streamlining your life as much as possible.
- Learn to relax. Learn to achieve an inner, calm, peaceful state no matter what your outward circumstances. Meditation and prayer have been found to significantly reduce stress levels. 15 minutes a day has shown to reduce cortisol levels and increase productivity. It has been said that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God. Even if you do not subscribe to a religious precept, meditation will help calm the mind, thereby reducing stress levels. Here is a link on how to meditate and a link on how to pray
- Release the stress. This can be accomplished by exercise, which uses up the adrenaline produced by stress, writing in a journal, talking to a friend or safe person, looking at the stress in a different light (I like to look at what’s causing my stress and ask myself if it will really matter in 100 years from now- if I answer “no”, I let it go). If overly tired, take a long hot bath. Add lavender and citrus essential oils to the bath. Our sense of smell is directly wired into our limbic system, which processes emotion and learning. Here is an excellent article on aromatherapy and its uses.
- Learn deep breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Hold for two counts. Slowly exhale through your nose. Do this five times. Studies have shown that doing this simple exercise reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. Anytime you start to feel stress coming on, try this simple exercise.
In conclusion – Our bodies and minds are not separate. What happens to one part happens to another.. We need to look at the whole picture- what we eat, our activity level, social/support system, our attitudes and spiritual activities, and find a balance that works for us. Only then will we be able to live the most productive and fulfilling life we were meant to live all along.
Part 3 of this series will go into the very real dangers of man made radiation and some proven protocols to rid our bodies and reduce our exposure and damage it has on our bodies.