Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Mind: Poison or Medicine?

Frequently when I talk with individuals that have had a heart attack or a sudden onset of a cardiac illness, I am speaking with someone who is having some recurring fear-based thoughts: "I have only one heart-- what if something happens in my sleep,"  "is that sensation I am feeling another heart attack," "is it going to happen again," "I'm doomed for a premature death," etc.

It is important that we all remember some basic tips that I give these folks to improve their health and their day to day functioning.  I teach them about thought substitution, also known as cognitive restructuring.  

When you are having a fear-based or negative thought, notice it and ask yourself how you can restructure it in a more positive way such as: "my heart is strong and healthy," "I experience energy and health,"  even if you are not 100% sold on the belief.  

Today I talked to one of the cardiac rehab nurses and encouraged their staff to instruct their patients to repeat positive "heart healthy" messages while exercising because many get highly anxious as they start to feel their heart speed up or become sweaty with exercise.  

I've always begged my kids to do what I thought would be a phenomenal Science Project in school.  Go to the track team and time runners running the same distance while repeating to themselves, "I am slow and heavy," then time them while saying "I am quick and light."  

Hmmmm.  What do you think the results would be?

Our minds are amazing tools for optimal health.  When you catch yourself worrying about your health, your weight, your stress level, or your loved one's well being, etc., note it and put another more realistic or positive thought in your brain so that it becomes trained to keep those negative thoughts out.  

The negative and fearful thoughts will drain your body of healing resources it needs for optimal health.  

Replacing those thoughts with your vision of optimal health or performance or coping will encourage your body to accept and adapt more healthy functioning.

The mind: poison or medicine--  it's your decision.

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