Does the way you think impact your physical health?
Many people suffer from anxiety, worry and depression. All these things usually come under the heading of “Negative thinking” for example Catastrophising/Making Mountains out of molehills would be a prime example.
An example of this maybe someone who is prone to migraine. They have a fall and bruise their back. Suddenly they imagine they have got a fracture in their back or broken a rib. Because of all the worry they take to bed with a migraine for a few days, feel sick, cannot eat or drink and become physically weaker and weaker. They may end up in hospital with dehydration and when examined they have bruising and nothing else.
So let’s just examine a more logical thought process. I have had a fall, I can still walk so it’s unlikely I have a fracture, if I have cracked a rib then unless it has punctured my lung (and actually I am still breathing normally so unlikely), then it will heal on its own. A call to the GP would verify this.
Let’s look at another way unhelpful thinking may damage your physical health. Let’s suppose you are an “all or nothing thinker”. Maybe you have diabetes but it’s under control through a good diet and medication. If that is the case you are not ‘ill’. Just because you have an illness that is under control do not think you are sick and become terrible anxious about your health, thus leading to a less than full life. “I am not 100% in perfect health so I must be sick”.
Labelling is another thinking style that many people assign to themselves. They may have or had a traumatic experience in life. The end of a relationship, a bereavement, being made redundant, being assaulted. Many, many people would then label themselves as a loser as they are finding it so hard to cope. Of course, you would be, anxious or depressed following such an event. But a loser! No, these are life events. They happen to most of us and generally pass given time. Of course, you may need some counselling to help you overcome the issue but labelling yourself is not helpful.
So, the way you think has an impact on your mental health (anxiety, worry, depression) which may lead to physical symptoms. Such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.
Also constant worry very often leads to sleep deprivation. This, of course, may lead to more worry about not sleeping and then not sleeping because you are worried/anxious about the impact it may have on your health, leading to a vicious cycle.
All these unhelpful ways of thinking leading to mental health issues (anxiety, depression, worry, panic and low self-esteem) may also lead to addictions in order to escape the unhelpful thoughts. Drugs (including cigarettes) and alcohol are very common leading to a reduction in dopamine which is the feel-good hormone.
Some ideas to help you overcome these issues are:
Exercising regularly. Exercise is not only important for physical health, but also your mental health. Just a 20 minute walk a day in the fresh air may increase your mood and help you overcome unhelpful thinking.
Eat healthy and nutritious food. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in processed sugars or fats may be a factor in better mental and physical health. There are plenty of healthy food plans on line.
Keep away from excessive alcohol and drugs. Drinking and smoking may be a short-term fix but long term they can have a negative effect on both your physical and mental health. Try to moderate them.
Adequate sleep. The requirement for sleep is different in everyone. Some people thrive on 6 hours others believe they need 9 or 10. You know how you feel (see my blog on tips for good sleep). There is no doubt that achieving your sleep requirement will affect your mood.
Relax, just do it. Meditation, deep breathing, and focusing your thoughts on positive experiences/places can all help when you are feeling stressed.
Try to develop more logical rather than emotional thinking styles. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is great for helping you to do this.
Getting Help. Talking with friends or family members can help you but if you would prefer someone more neutral a mental health therapist would be helpful in overcoming negative ways of being.