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Your Attitude Does Shape Your Reality - And Your Health

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Have you ever heard the term “experience-dependent neuroplasticity?”

If not, don’t worry. Most people haven’t.

But maybe you’ve heard motivational speakers, psychologists, and others talk about how your attitude shapes your reality.

Your brain is a dynamic organ that is always changing. It’s changed by your experiences. What you experience and how you react to that experience continuously creates and organizes neuron connections in your grey matter.

These neurons are not much different than muscle cells. The ones you work develop and become more connected—that part of the brain becomes stronger and more responsive. The neurons you don’t use eventually disappear.

Check out this great read from Hey Sigmund that goes into the science of this in more detail.

Now, do you know people who always seem to have a positive attitude? No matter what life throws at them, they always seem to be able to shake it off and find the upside. Or they can quickly get back on their feet and figure out a way to recover from a setback.

That’s because these folks don’t dwell on the negative, they don’t mope around feeling sorry for themselves. Through experience after experience, they have wired their brains in a certain way. The neuron connections related to positive emotions like resilience, optimism, gratitude, and self-esteem are strongest.

On the other hand, you must know people who never have a positive thing to say. They see the negative in everything. They stress, they worry, they seem to react to everything out of fear. They may also be quite self-critical and suffer from low esteem.

They have of course strengthened their brains around all the negative emotions. That leaves them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

The Impact is Real

Those negative emotions do have a real and measurable impact on your physical health.

Positive emotions stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine. These are your “feel good” hormones that improve emotional mood, mental concentration, sex drive, and energy levels.

Negative emotions inhibit their production and instead fuel the release of your “fight or flight” hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. These are your stress hormones meant to manage your survival instinct. But their constant over-stimulation can contribute to all sorts of negative health effects. You could develop clinical depression, chronic heart-burn, high blood pressure, even become a compulsive eater, which can leave you at risk of other diseases like diabetes. Your sleep could suffer, which further aggravates issues with your mental state and health.

Living in this negative state casts a moody shadow over your entire life. It does make it more difficult for your body to recover from injury – that includes making progress with your care here in our Kanata chiropractic clinic.

So what can you do?

Adapting your brain to a more positive mindset takes time and effort, just like any other process of self-improvement. The challenge is to find other more positive things to focus on.

Here are three places to start from Psychology Today (check out the full article for more details).

Avoid negative rumination

Not to be confused with healthy self-reflection, rumination is a kind of negative thinking in which we get mentally stuck and fixate on negative outcomes that could possibly happen.

When you start to ruminate, get up and do something else to break the cycle, like take a walk or talk to a friend. Avoid the temptation to find comfort in food or alcohol. Focus on problem-solving – what can you do to improve or change the situation?

Avoid overthinking

Overthinking is much like negative rumination, but in this case, you keep churning over trying to imagine every outcome and everything that could go wrong with a course of action before making a decision. It’s an attempt to control what you can’t -no one can predict the future.

Instead, impose limits yourself. Give yourself a deadline by which to make a decision and take action, even if you’re not comfortable. Don’t allow yourself to research more than a few alternatives. If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it, just consider what you can learn from that experience.

Avoid cynical hostility

This is defined as angry mistrust of other people. You expect people to cause you harm – to let you down, take advantage, cheat, or deceive. This colours your perceptions – you take anything that anyone says or does in the worst possible light.

Recognize this habit in yourself. Learn to reserve judgment until you have evidence of a person’s intentions. Consider what other, and less malicious, motivations a person might have for what they say or do.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

And always consider that your negative state of mind does directly influence how people respond to you. People naturally gravitate toward positive people and shy away from those who always seem to have a cloud of doom and gloom hanging over them. Cynical hostility in particular can provoke a negative response from other people.

When it comes to your health and your care in our clinic, we firmly believe your attitude will impact your recovery and how severely your symptoms, including pain, will dominate your life.

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