Stress Relief - How not to Get Worried Sick

Author: Jerry Ryan, Ph.D.

“You are what you think.”  This statement and others like it can be found in the works of Shakespeare, Chekov, and Emerson, in the teachings of Lao-Tzu and Socrates, and even in the Bible.  So, is there any current scientific proof or is this statement simply a wishful thought? 

There is a great deal of evidence that shows that we really ARE what we think, in a genuine physiological fashion.  The medical field of research is called Psychoneuroimmunology or PNI.  It is the study of interactions between a person’s perception of the world around them, their behavior, the way their brain functions, and their immune system. The field of PNI studies the measurable interaction between psychological and physiological processes. The psychological portion is the Psycho aspect, the central nervous system aspect is the Neuro aspect, and the body's defense against external infection and mutant cell division is the Immunology aspect.  There is also an endocrine system portion of PNI involving the release of various hormones in coordination with the other three aspects.

UCLA has the leading research facility in the nation to explore the intricate relationships between how our thoughts directly affect the production of certain hormones that, in turn, causing identifiable reactions within our body.  The overall concept is very simple.  Positive thoughts lead to positive changes in the body while negative thinking results in negative changes.  Basically, negative thinking can be viewed as placing stress on the body and its functions.

Studies have shown improvement or complete remission in various diseases from such things as laughter, positive imagery, and other similar therapies.  Likewise, research demonstrates that individuals that focus on the negative aspects of their life tend to deteriorate more rapidly.  Clearly, the body responds better to a positive mental message.  Perhaps Norman Cousins, researcher at UCLA, said it best:

“The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient's hopes are the physician's secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription.” 

How can you take advantage of this connection between your mind and your body?  There are several methods and each one is simple to put into practice.  Being persistent is the biggest task.  Developing the habit of positive thinking does require some practice but wouldn’t you rather spend your time thinking about good things instead of focusing on the downside of life?  Here are a few things that might help you get control of the “dark side” of your thoughts.

Nutrition is a good first step.  If you’re eating foods with antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and hormones in the food or on the food, then you are actually contributing to the imbalances and the negative thinking.  You see, the channels are open both ways – your mind affects your body and your body affects your mind.  Take a look at your diet and see if you can eat more raw foods and less processed or pre-packaged items.

Stress places a drain on certain vitamins and minerals in your body.  Deficiencies can lead to or contribute to a number of diseases.  Take a high-quality multiple vitamin/mineral supplement to make certain that you are supplying your body the nutrients that it needs to repair the damage caused by stress and negative thoughts.

Exercise is another tool to good thinking.  It’s been said that every motion begins with a thought – another indication of the connection between mind and body.  Make an effort to move as much as you can; your attitude will reflect the difference that effort really makes.  Exercise at any level has been shown to relieve tension and stress.

Meditation and other relaxation methods are key aids in clearing your mind of negative thoughts and alleviating stress in the body.  Deep-breathing techniques, such as those practiced in yoga, are helpful and can be done anywhere at any time.  The inward focus of the mind on the act of breathing in a slow, controlled manner quiets the complex web of thoughts that constantly erupt in a person’s mind.  Calming that bubbling fountain of thoughts allows you to focus on your connection to the higher power that we are all a part of.  Keeping in touch with that higher power cleans up the negative thinking as you establish a pattern of positive thoughts and actions.

The information in this article is a small portion of my 8-week online class called “The Answer’s Right Under Your Nose.”  Find out more about this life-changing course at under the ‘Personal Coaching’ heading.

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About the Author:
Jerry Ryan, Ph.D. is a Natural Health Coach who teaches individuals and group classes on the scientifically documented benefits of natural health techniques.  He is also an internationally published author and has been a guest speaker at such places as NIKE World Headquarters.  For more information, his website is