Mind Over Medicine
This summer. I went absolutely nuts over Dr. Lissa Rankin’s book Mind Over Medicine. Read it. Seriously. Please. Everyone should.
She talks about a lot of things, but if I had to name the thesis of the book, it’s that Western healthcare doesn’t harness the power of the brain to change the workings of the body. (My one nitpick of the book is its title – it sounds like she’s suggesting Western medicine be ignored, and that isn’t at all what she says.)
It comes down to this. We all know that when we feel stressed, anxious, unsafe, etc. – other than peaceful – it’s uncomfortable. But we tend to shrug it off and it’s not very “tough” to fuss about it. After all, everyone is too busy; nobody gets enough sleep. It’s gotten so that we actually brag about it, as if it’s a point of pride that we’ve overscheduled ourselves so badly.
The thing is, research is showing that the effects of stress are anything but minor. It’s not even a heart attack or indigestion, the typical things we think of. When you let yourself stay in prolonged stressed states, you’re making your body deal with that, and as a result, it can’t do the normal body functions. It can’t heal, it can’t grow, it can’t solve other problems that pop up.
Our body is set with natural self-repair mechanisms – but those only work when we’re not stressed. Doesn’t matter if physically or mentally, real or imagined, danger or neuroses. Stress prevents healing.
We’ve gotten accustomed to thinking we can overclock our bodies, and it’s killing us.
Here are just a few of the related studies I’ve been reading. But seriously, go to her website. Read her words. Please.
- Deep breathing can affect brain growth and gene expression
- Stress overwhelms the parts of the brain devoted to higher-order thinking (as noted in this heartbreaking article about parents who accidentally leave their babies in car seats)
- Stress can trip cancer genes