When we think of wellness, it’s easy to think about how we physically feel and how well we perform. It’s a lot harder to think about *how* we think, and how well we’ve adapted our mind to handle our environment. Chances are that, if you have any stressful interpersonal relationships or if any daily acts add stress to your life, your overall wellness is impacted. These things don’t have to play out the way they do. The best way to change your life is to change how you see it – and your physical body will follow suit!
Mind affects Body
It’s not hard to study how stress responses affect your body. It’s well known that when animals and humans meet perceived stress the body releases stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine) and the physiology changes to better manage the stress. Blood moves away from digestive organs to towards your muscles, lungs and even some of your senses get sharper. Your brain even changes – more blood moves towards areas that increase vigilance, but associate negative emotions. Long-term stress can even affect memory and learning. What’s worse is that those stress hormones also make it harder to sleep, lose weight, digest food, and heal from infection or injury. It’s safe to say that stress isn’t good for enjoying life.
Perspective is Key
Sometimes you can’t actually change the thing that stresses you, and that’s ok! The good news here is that it has more to do with how you perceive or handle the stressor than the actual stressor itself. This means that you have the power to change your body’s response to stress, which can equate to better wellness. Changing how you see and interact with the stress changes your relationship with it, which can spare you a ton of energy! The caveat is that changing yourself can be tough, as there are many pitfalls to change that you might not be able to see on your own.
What can be Done?
It all starts with learning yourself, which can be done through self-reflection exercises but often requires an objective third party. Having someone to talk to, who has no other objective in mind other than your well-being, can be invaluable. The right person might be a counselor, a therapist, or a psychologist, but in my experience, the person matters more than the designation. Don’t be afraid to try a few people out till you find that right fit. A session should be challenging (you’ll need the person to challenge your views) but should always feel right. Keep in mind there’s no point in booking an appointment with someone unless you’re truly willing to make change! No one can change you, but yourself. But if you’re ready and find the right person to help you, incredible things can happen.
By: Dr. Kahlen Pihowich, ND