Wouldn't it be great if you could rewire your brain, to help you recover from a work-related injury or car accident injury and increase your overall happiness? Neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system, to decipher the brain's commands and functions. Research has shown that the way we think has a direct impact on the way we feel and heal - but how?
According to leaders in the field, including Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Joe Dispenza, every thought, feeling and emotion creates a molecule called a neuropeptide. These molecules directly affect your body as they travel through the bloodstream. Therefore, if, for example, you have a happy thought, your system may be filled with neuropeptides that can have an antidepressant effect.
When the body responds to a thought with a feeling, the brain releases chemicals in a loop, so that thinking creates feeling and feeling turns to thinking. This cycle of repeated chemicals cause the cells in the body to react. Therefore, if you continually have negative thought patterns, your cells may not function correctly, which can lead to ill-health and prolonged injuries.
This leads us to the possibility of mind-body connection, whereby you can learn how to use your thoughts to influence your body's responses. To understand how your thoughts directly affect your body, imagine you're watching a scary movie. The visual images, story and your corresponding thoughts about it can make your heart beat faster or your stomach churn.
Likewise, if you picture yourself on a tropical island, swimming in the ocean and walking along the beach, you may experience physical symptoms of excitement, relaxation and rejuvenation, via the happy thoughts alone.
There are numerous exercises you can try, to help increase your capacity for regular positive thinking. Doing so has proven to lower anxiety, enhance beneficial sleep patterns, decrease the need for medications, reduce recovery times from surgery and injury and significantly increase your sense of overall health and well-being.
One of the easiest ways to get into the great habit of positive thinking, is to surround yourself with affirmations to remind you to do so. When you're trapped in reoccurring thoughts of pain, illness or negativity, simply looking at an affirmation can start you on the journey to feeling better in the present moment. Put notes on your fridge, bathroom mirror, in the car or in your wallet, stating anything from, 'life is wonderful' to 'each day I feel better than the day before'. Guy Winch (PH. D), provides some tips on creating effective affirmations in a recent article on Psychology Today.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Self affirmations only work when they’re believable. Take these self-esteem boosting tips: <a href="https://t.co/XY42S5vx6K">https://t.co/XY42S5vx6K</a></p>— Psychology Today (@PsychToday) <a href="https://twitter.com/PsychToday/status/722771057430495235?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">20 April 2016</a></blockquote>
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Breathing techniques can help you become aware of your thoughts, in order to switch them to more positive ones. Simply close your eyes and notice your breath going in and out of your nostrils, until you're breathing in a slow, calm pattern from your abdomen, instead of your chest. This allows for relaxation and clarity, which lowers the stress and anxiety that may be reducing your body's ability to heal.
Whether you believe your thoughts can affect your body or not, the bottom line is that it simply makes sense to foster positive thinking, which, in turn leads to behavioural patterns that can enhance a faster recovery.