Many of us have become very interested in maintaining our health. We have taken considerable effort to eat better, to exercise, to drink more water and to really to take care of our bodies. While these are important, there is more to being healthy than what we do physically to our bodies.
In this newsletter, I would like to share with you about how our thoughts and feelings too can impact our health. The healing power of thoughts and feelings could actually be the subject of a whole book but for now, I want to zero this down to the power of gratitude and the word “Thank You”.
Many of us have at our disposal one of the simplest tools for enhancing our health. And that is the word “Thank You” and the feeling of gratitude that comes along with it.
Really?? Well yes. Let me explain briefly.
You see the body has different types of nervous systems. There is one that we can control consciously also known as the voluntary nervous system and one that we cannot control or influence consciously called the involuntary nervous system. The involuntary nervous system controls many of the most vital functions required for life such as heartbeat, digestion, immune function, sexual function and many other areas that are so vital to being alive that you are not allowed to conscious control of them. Try and get your heart rate up to 120 by will power or tell your heart to stop beating for a while and you will know what I mean.
But what you cannot control consciously or voluntarily, your state of mind and emotions on the other hand can. Your mind and your feelings can directly influence this involuntary nervous system. If you get stressed, angry or afraid you suddenly become aware of the existence of aspects of your body that you were seemingly unconscious of. You sweat, your heart rate goes up, you get feelings of digestive imbalance etc. Part of how this happens is these strong feelings trigger the release of chemicals from the brain that affects our health in all areas that this nervous system controls. That is why stress, which is usually a continuous feeling of tension related to what we perceive to be difficult situations is so harmful to our blood pressure, our immune function, our digestion and even our sexual health.
And the exact reverse happens when you have a feeling of joy and especially the feeling of gratitude. When you say thank you and feel the gratitude in your heart, the brain is signalled to produce a whole range of chemicals including feel-good hormones, anti-depressants, immune boosters, stress relievers and chemicals that can help to reduce cravings and even help to keep blood pressure and sugar under control.
Researchers are now unearthing how powerful the feeling of gratitude is for our health. In fact, it may be one of the most powerful tools we can use to maintain good health. And now many gratitude centres are now springing up all over the world to help manage chronic health problems. The word thank you is very powerful for our health. And the reason it is so amazing is that it doesn’t cost you much to say. Moreover, all of us have hundreds of things we can be grateful for if we simply take time to reflect on our lives. But rather than focus on the many things we can be grateful for, many of us dwell on the things we are unhappy about.
So, I want to challenge you.
Start putting your focus on what you are grateful for beginning with right now. Get 30 things you are grateful for right now. Go through them in your mind one by one, feeling the gratitude for each of them. If you don’t have 30 things (which would be surprising), get 5 things and go over each of them 6 to 7 times. If you do, you will begin to stimulate the release of healthy brain chemicals that will immediately begin to enhance your health.
Does this take long? Absolutely not. All you need to do is spare 3 minutes twice daily. Imagine only 3 minutes for something that could transform your health. And whenever an opportunity arises say a genuine Thank You and you will unconsciously begin thanking your way to better health.
Even diseases like cancer and all diseases of the immune system such as autoimmune disease can be positively impacted by practicing gratitude. What does gratitude cost you? Nothing. Saying thank you won't only improve your health it will improve your relationships as well.
Don’t take this lightly. This practice is truly powerful. Try this and see. Soon it will be a habit that you won’t be able to live without.
Let me practice this by thanking you sincerely for taking the time to read this. I am feeling gratitude as I write this. I am also grateful that you really trust me to share what I believe can be instrumental in improving your holistic health and wellbeing.
I hope this simple tool will be a something you will integrate as a real practice (the same way you practice exercise and other things) into your life.