Did you know that you have around 60,000 thoughts every day? And what's even more surprising: Stanford researcher Dr. Fred Luskin has found that a staggering 90% of those thoughts are repetitive.
Think about that: 9 out of 10 of your thoughts are ones you have incessantly. And for many people these thoughts are not only repetitive, but negative.
Negative thoughts bring a prolonged cycle of stress — and that's very damaging to your overall health.
In fact, one study found that psychological stress actually lowers your immune system and raises inflammation in the body. Stress can also be a trigger for autoimmune problems: research from 2001 revealed that patients with Graves' disease had more stressful life events before their diagnosis, compared to control groups.
For most of us, so much of our day is wrapped up in the sublime storm of unconscious, repetitive thought. This keeps stress alive in your life.
As a functional medicine practitioner, I see on a daily basis the power of thought and its impact on health. Whatever your health goal is, whether it's to lose weight, overcome a health condition or just to feel like yourself again, your thoughts will be the seed of your success or failure.
Here are my suggestions to start moving beyond repetitive thought to maximize your physical health:
1. Exercise awareness.
Awareness is like a muscle — you have to use it to make it stronger. Tools like mindfulness meditation will help you grow in awareness. You'll come to see that you're not your thoughts, but the observer of them. That breaks the repetitive mind chatter and brings you into the present moment.
2. Love yourself.
You can't heal a body you hate. Years of mentally putting yourself down will hold you back from reclaiming your health and life. Your worth is not measured on what the scale says. You are not your diagnosis.
Love yourself enough to nourish the gift of life.
3. Face your fears.
Thoughts of fear and dread can be debilitating to your health. From fear of failure to fear of responsibility, here are some common fears that I see patients struggle with — and how to conquer them.
4. Give yourself a tech detox.
The internet has allowed us to have quality, helpful information at our fingertips.
But while it's one thing to use it to grow in awareness, it's another thing to mindlessly scroll through status updates as mind-numbing hours pass you by. This is often a way for you to avoid the present moment, and it prevents you from moving beyond repetitive thought. Turn down the chatter and unplug with some of my favorite tech detox ideas.
5. Try tai-chi or yoga.
After you turn down the mental and social media chatter, fill the time gaps with exercises of silence. Tai-chi and yoga are two great ways to grow in inner stillness.
6. Fill your mind with positivity.
Negative and stressful thoughts can be softened with reading or listening to positive things. For example, classical or meditation music, a happy podcast, a self-help book or just silence can be the perfect paths to quieting the mind.
Research confirms that we can rewire our brain the more we do something — so make positivity a habit.
7. Surround yourself with positive people.
The people you spend most of your time with will either build you up or feed into negative thoughts.
There are three groups of friends: the first should be your inner circle of friends who mutually lift each other up. The next circle should be people you can be a positive influence on. The last, outer circle is anyone who will negatively influence you. Keep your distance from these "energy vampires," who are constantly negative or make every conversation about themselves. Love them from a healthy distance.
8. Don't be offended.
I've met many patients who are blanketed with pain from years of being offended, so much so that it's affecting their health. Replaying a negative event repeatedly in your mind can negatively impact your body.
No matter how justified you may be, consider that forgiveness may be part of your healing. Realize whatever was done to you was not personal but was the unconsciousness in the other person. Easier said than done, I understand, but not taking anything personally is liberating.
9. Get quality sleep.
Compulsive negative thinking can keep you up at night. While the above suggestions can help you fall asleep faster, you should also do things to promote a more restful sleep. Turning off the TV and cell phones before bed, and reading a book instead is one simple way to promote quality sleep.
10. Nourish your brain.
Everything you eat will either feed stress or feed health. So, replenish your brain with the nutrients it needs for optimal function, like eggs, grass-fed meat, and some of my other favorite brain foods.
11. Consider functional medicine.
While I've discussed how our negative thoughts impact our health, the opposite is also true. Underlying problems such as leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, microbiome imbalances, brain inflammation and adrenal fatigue can affect how your brain works.
Functional medicine is an evidence-based, natural approach to health care that takes into consideration the physical as well as mental-emotional components to healing. Take advantage of a free webcam or phone evaluation to see if functional medicine is right for you.
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