Interests: Headaches, Mum's and Kid's Health
Last month we had our very first movie night at the practice and we watched the documentary HEAL. At its core is the premise that our thoughts and emotions can not only affect how our body feels but can actually make changes at the most fundamental levels of our biology.
Now, if you had have asked me 5 years ago what I thought about this concept, I probably would have said a sarcastic ‘sure, whatever’. While studying to be a chiropractor, we were drilled on the concept of clinical research, trained to reply, ‘where is your evidence?’ when presented with a new concept or treatment. Yes, we spoke about the body’s innate intelligence, but this was presented as part of chiropractic history, with the most current iteration of the profession firmly based in evidence and clinical trials.
But from my roots as a sceptic on this topic, lots has changed for me in the last 5 years. It has been a long journey, but I am now convinced that how we think, what we feel, and emotions that we hold on to can all affect our body, in both positive and negative ways.
I began by looking into the placebo effect. Most people are familiar with this, the fact that people can positively respond to a fake treatment that should have no effect. This began in clinical trials for pharmaceutical drugs, where to test the effect of the drug, half the test subjects would receive the actual drug and the other half would receive and identical looking sugar pill. This is to try and measure the effects of natural history of disorders, where some people would have gotten better without treatment. What has been found is that up to 75% of people who receive the sugar pills can have as good results as those receiving the drug. Why? Because they think they are receiving the actual treatment. And as they say in the documentary HEAL, belief changes biology. These people’s bodies were responding because their brain thought they were being treated.
Then last year I attended the SD Protocol seminar. The basis of the SD Protocol is that people can get chronically stuck in Sympathetic Dominance, or the ‘fight or flight’ response. When we go into fight or flight, it affects every system in our body, as our body prepares us to be able to run from a bear at any moment. This includes raising heart rate and blood sugar levels, decreasing our digestive and hormonal functions as well as an array of other features. This is great for running from a predator, but not so great when we are stressed about work or money. For me, this was the clearest indication yet that our thoughts can affect our biology, with these intangible stresses causing massive effects on our bodies.
So back to HEAL. Five years ago, watching this film I would have said ‘there is no way this works’ but 5 years of clinical experience and a deeper understanding of the human condition, has made me believe that we actually do have a massive influence over our own health. While modern medicine is incredible in its capability to save and prolong a life, sometimes we need to change the Locus of Control and bring the responsibility back to ourselves. We cannot keep pushing down emotions and not dealing with how we feel, because it will come out eventually, just probably not in a way we expect. There is more and more evidence showing that even musculoskeletal problems like low back pain can be massively affected by how you feel about it, from levels of pain to how much you believe your back pain restricts your life or work.
We can’t keep pushing through chronic stress and sleep deprivation, jumping from deadline to deadline, because our bodies were not designed to live that way. A lot of people have lost the ability to relax, switch off and stop.
What you can do:
The words ‘mindfulness’, ‘meditation’ and ‘self-care’ have become buzzwords in the last few years. Everyone knows they ‘should take care of themselves’ but don’t know where to start. A lot of people have ‘tried’ meditation, but thought it was too hard or they couldn’t do it. So, let’s break down each of these concepts, and help you make a start.
Knowing that our thoughts and emotions can have an effect on our body is an essential concept. This does not mean suppressing negative emotions and pasting a smile on your face but dealing with the whole range of emotions when they present themselves. I highly recommend watching Heal and going in with an open mind, it could change your outlook on life. I would like to leave you with a few final thoughts.
Your brain changes when you change your mindset. Both on MRI and noticeably in your thinking, your relationships and your health. Health is your state of mind as well. Exercise both your body and your mindset to achieve your optimal potential. No matter your state of health, you can always get 'well-er.' If you've been struggling with health or if you feel you're doing pretty well, you can always have more positive energy in your world. It's never too late. You are incredible. You have an innate intelligence within you that WANTS you to be healthy. If you remove and reduce the physical, chemical and emotional stresses on your system, you WILL be healthier.
This is us.
At Ballarat and District Chiropractic we know you want to be empowered when it comes your health so we want to help you by sharing all our knowledge about Chiropractic.