Most of us know that eating well and exercising is important for good health. Yet often we hear about people 100 years old and older that are still vital and have not eaten perfectly or exercised much. What is the secret of their good health?
Research indicates that a major factor in good health – more important than genes, food, or exercise – is how we handle stress.
Our bodies are equipped with a “fight or flight” mechanism that enables us to mobilize our strength when necessary. This mechanism allows us to fight or flee from real and present danger. However, this mechanism is also activated when we BELIEVE there is danger, even when no actual survival danger exists.
For example, it is appropriate for the fight or flight mechanism to activate if you are being physically attacked. When the stress response is activated, blood is taken from our brain and organs and put into our arms and legs to enable us to fight or flee. Our immune system shuts down to give us more energy to physically protect ourselves and ensure our survival in the moment. Once the danger is over and we have discharged the stress through fighting or running, our bodies go back to normal and blood again flows to our brain and organs.
However, what if your thoughts are creating the stress? What if you are imagining being attacked, or being rejected, or losing money, or losing your job, or losing a loved one? In this case, there is no actual real and present danger occurring in the moment. Yet the body does not know the difference between something that is really happening and something that you are thinking about. The body goes into the stress response the moment you think scary thoughts. But instead of being able to fight or flee, you are stuck with the anxiety caused by your thoughts. The blood is in your arms and legs with no way to be released. You can’t think very well due to as lack of blood in your brain, your organs are being robbed of necessary nutrients, and your immune system is not functioning properly. Strenuous exercise may release the stress response, but if you keep thinking the scary thoughts, it will just come right back.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your health and wellbeing is to become conscious of your thoughts that create stress and become adept at changing your thoughts. People who have learned how to let challenging things roll off their back generally have good health. People who allow the challenges of life to constantly stress them out often have health problems, even when they eat well and get exercise.
Our minds have been programmed from infancy with many untrue thoughts – many false beliefs. It is when we think these untrue thoughts that we cause ourselves anxiety and our bodies go into the stress response. However, we all have a “Wise Self” that knows truth from lies. When we move “out of our minds” and into our knowing, we will stop thinking the thoughts that cause anxiety and instead operate from the truth of our knowing.
Thoughts that are untrue cause anxiety. The truth brings peace. If you have a thought that you cannot survive being rejected or being alone, you will feel anxious. However, while this might have been true as a child, it is not true as an adult. Your anxious feeling is letting you know that your thought is untrue. If you then think – from your Wise Self rather than from your programmed mind: “I can handle rejection. I’ve been rejected many times and I have not died. I’ve been alone many times and I have not died,” your body will release the anxiety and you will feel peaceful. Your peaceful feeling is telling you that you are now thinking the truth.
The very best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing is to become aware of the thoughts from your programmed mind that create anxiety, and practice thinking the truth from your Wise Self that creates inner peace.