In this blog I’m going to share with you a little about the mind-body connection and how you can change your body by influencing your mind to create better health, wellbeing and happiness. This is particularly important, given that we have reached crisis point with record numbers of cases of depression and anxiety, not just in the UK, but globally. About 5% of the global adult population suffers from depression and about 4.5% of adults in the UK (Source: priorygroup.com). Depression costs the UK economy over £9 billion every year in terms of lost working days. Depression is greater in people with a health problem. But as we will discover, sometimes at the root of the health issue is an emotional and psychological problem.
What is Psychoneuroimmunology? What does it mean?
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a term I first encountered when reading the book Molecules of Emotion by Dr Candace Pert (1999). It was on our reading list when I was training to become an Energy Alignment Method mentor. The Energy Alignment Method is an applied kinesiology system that uses the body sway to understand what’s going on in our energy field (thoughts, emotions, etheric and physical body). It helps to release negative energy (including false beliefs, conditioning and past trauma) and replace with high vibration energy so that we can better and more easily manifest positive outcomes in our life.
Psychoneuroimmunology, as a concept, has been around since 1980. It presupposes that there is a very strong and indissoluble connection between the mind / central nervous system and the immune system. It goes along the lines of what we think, we feel, and what we feel is registered by the cells of our body (through neuropeptides and their receptors) – you’ve probably heard the term “your body is listening”. And so, I’d like to introduce another fascinating book on this subject (and with less scientific jargon) which is Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro.
Our immune system is a very complex network of organs, glands and cells, comprising of the lymph glands, nodes, thymus gland, tonsils, spleen and white blood cells. Its primary function is to recognise and prevent foreign substances or antigens (viruses and bacteria) from attacking the body and to sustain good health.
When the immune system is overactive in fighting external antigens, we develop allergies. If it’s underactive, an infection ensues. If the system is overactive in fighting internal antigens, the immune system starts to destroy the body from within, as in the case of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. If underactive, then abnormal body cells begin to develop (e.g. cancer cells).
Whilst of course environmental or chemical toxins in the air, food and water can negatively impact our immune system’s ability to function efficiently, there is a new idea that our emotional state of mind has a far more significant role to play. This even applies to congenital diseases, because somewhere along the line there has to have been a root cause to the disease from foregone generations.
How Stress and Negative Emotions Impact our Health
We know that stress is a major cause of disease and a big killer, because it compromises the immune system. With ongoing stressful situations (tense or conflicted relationships, onerous work, family and financial responsibilities), our bodies are always on hyper alert (the fight, flight or freeze response). The body in this state is not in its resting phase and able to heal and regenerate cells. The sympathetic system has supremacy over the parasympathetic system.
The immune system is also affected by grief, depression, loneliness and repressed feelings and through a loss of self identity. As Deb Shapiro suggests, it’s useful to ask the following questions when you’re feeling unwell or afflicted by some disease that has compromised the immune system:
- Have you lost your sense of individuality, or confidence in your own beliefs?
- Have you been unduly influenced by someone or something else?
- Has your tolerance level dropped? And are you becoming increasingly intolerant and exasperated?
- Is there a part of you that you are denying or ignoring?
- Is there a psycho/emotional battle being waged within you?
- Have you been overly stressed, depressed or worried of late?
In terms of autoimmune diseases, she suggests that you could ask the following questions:
- Do you feel as if you are not really valid?
- Do you think you don’t have needs?
- Are you carrying guilt, shame or blame from the past that is wearing away your self-esteem and self-respect?
- Do you have an underlying dislike or hatred of yourself?
- Do you spend your time putting others’ needs before your own?
- Are you overly critical of yourself and constantly berate yourself?
- Is someone eroding your self-worth?
- Have you lost the ability to discriminate?
- Do you let someone else determine what you think or feel?
Psoriasis is a super example of how the immune system, CNS (central nervous system), mental health, and stress levels are all intertwined. Both increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as depression trigger the release of cytokines by the immune system. And its these cytokine proteins which cause the overgrowth of skin cells. There’s often a vicious 2-directional feedback loop between psoriasis, stress and depression, which can cause the disease to spiral out of control.
Cancer and PNI
According to a review of research published in 2013 (Psychoneuroimmunology and cancer: A decade of discovery, paradigm shifts, and methodological innovations – PMC (nih.gov), there appears to be a PNI link in relation to cancer. For example:
- Women with genetic risk factors for developing cancer showed immune system abnormalities in response to stress.
- There appears to be a link in people with breast cancer between depression, the quality of social support they have, and immune cell activity.
- People with breast, cervical, or ovarian cancer who reported feeling stressed or lonely had abnormalities in their immune systems.
- Communication between the immune system and brain may impact symptoms that are related to cancer treatment, including fatigue, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
- Stressful experiences and depression may be associated with a poorer survival rate for several types of cancer.
How Positivity Can Improve Health
When the ‘flu bug is doing the rounds in the office, not everyone will be affected in the same way. It’s been known that those with a more positive disposition and with greater emotional resilience, experience fewer illnesses and are less likely to succumb to viruses and infections. Also, the speed and overall probability of recovery improves, especially in relation to more life-threatening diseases, when the person is more positive in his/her mental and emotional disposition. Why is this?
Positive Psychology is a concept first introduced by Abraham Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs) and was extensively developed by American psychologist and educator Martin Seligman when creating his PERMA model of wellbeing (P = Positive Emotion, E – Engagement, R = Relationships, M = Meaning, A = Accomplishments). Seligman understands how natural it is for individuals to continuously seek for what makes them happy, regardless of their age, orientation, and status in life. The whole idea of Positive Psychology is to focus on what’s good in our lives and what we have achieved, rather than on what we haven’t got or on resolving the bad or negative in our lives. Simply distilled, it works on the basis of seeking out several routes to happiness:
- Feeling good: seeking pleasurable emotions and sensations
- Engaging fully: pursuing goals and activities that engage you fully
- Doing good: searching for meaning outside yourself
- Gratitude: expressing appreciation for what you have in your life
- Savouring pleasure: placing your attention on pleasure as it occurs and consciously enjoying the experience as it unfolds
- Being mindful: focusing your attention on what is happening at the moment and accepting it without judgment
- Self-compassion: consoling yourself as needed, taking the time to nurture yourself, and building the motivation to try again.
(Source: Harvard Health Publishing/Medical School)
There is an ever-growing body of evidence to suggest that there is great power in positive thinking. It’s been well documented that positive emotions are linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Transforming Your Life with Life Lift Therapy
Life Lift Therapy is a programme I created in response to the matter of PNI. By doing the energy work of recognising and releasing repressed or resistant (negative) thoughts, beliefs and emotions, and aligning to positivity in every aspect of our energy (as nature abhors a vacuum), we get to regain control of our physical health, happiness and wellbeing.
It’s all about taking back control, “responding in a beneficial way” and not allowing yourself to react to circumstances, people and your own past programming. It’s about working from the inside out to create more peace, harmony, self-love, appreciation and acceptance (both of self and others), in order to effect positive outer change. We are essentially mirrors. What we see on the outside is merely a reflection of what’s going on within – ALWAYS!
Many people have told me that I look at least 15 years younger. And I know deep down it’s all about doing the inner work: creating positivity and harmony from the inside out. I still get niggling pain and inflammation in my knee joints, but I fully believe, whilst wear and tear is a factor, there’s still some resistant energy that I haven’t released. In other words, I have some things that I still need to process (often around past disappointments, rejection and perceived “failures”) which I need to let go of so that I can move forward in my life.
Where do you think you are stuck? Are you experiencing high levels of stress, adversity or challenge? How are you emotionally? Are you suffering from low self-esteem, anxiety or even depression? How are these things manifesting in your life, especially in terms of your physical health? Would you like to know a little more, explore and go within, so that you can heal your life from the inside out?
What would it look like to get your life back on track in 2023? I’ve kept the offer of £700 (which can still be paid in instalments). So if you’re open to exploring the mind-body connection and you want to experience a more empowered, healthier and happier version of yourself in 2023, then send me (Esther) an email to email@example.com. We can set up a call to discuss how Life Lift Therapy can transform your life in a massive way. When you get your energy to work for you rather than against you, you can create massive shifts and manifest incredible things in all areas of your life. No one can change your life, but you. Are you open to the possibility?