What is health?

Is there anything that prevents you from living in a way that corresponds to your authentic, vital self-expression? If so, what exactly is this “something”?
What do you love and commend about yourself?
What is missing in your life?
What do you appreciate about your life?
Do you feel that your work is in accord with your actual purpose in life?
Do you perceive your financial situation as solid, or is money a stress factor in your life?
What rules are you following that you would like to break?
If a fairy godmother came along and you had a free wish, what would it be?

It is the answers to questions like these that often reveal more about the background of disease than laboratory tests, medical reports or X-rays can because it is not enough to focus on the body alone. Wanting to strengthen health on the physical level without also taking into account mental well-being will not work. True healing is only possible when we understand that our physical body is a mirror of our interpersonal, spiritual, professional, sexual, creative, financial, environmental, mental and emotional health. Disease is not simply the result of bad genes, an unhealthy lifestyle or simply unfortunate circumstances, but can also be based on loneliness, financial worries, stress or an unhappy relationship.

In our lives there are some things that have to be met to ensure that we are vital and protected from disease and that we get well quickly in the event of an illness:

  • Healthy relationships, including a strong network of family, friends, people close to us and colleagues
  • A meaningful way to spend our days, whether we work at home or elsewhere
  • A comprehensive creative expression which gives our soul the chance to unfold
  • A practised spirituality
  • A healthy sexual life
  • A healthy financial situation, which ensures that the basic needs of our body are covered and that we have no money worries
  • A healthy environment free of toxins, threats from natural disasters, radiation exposure and other harmful factors
  • A healthy mental and emotional attitude based on optimism and contentment, without fears, worries, depression and other mental stress
  • A way of life conducive to physical well-being through good nutrition, regular exercise, sufficient sleep and the avoidance of unhealthy addictive behaviour

Today’s orthodox medicine only marginally considers our mental state, if at all. Because it reduces us to our bodies, it primarily provokes insecurity and fear. This is something we are currently experiencing very clearly with the coronavirus. Viruses come and go, and we have always shared the Earth and our lives with them. But why is it that some people get sick and others do not? Why and when do viruses have an easy job with us, and why not? A healthy lifestyle is essential for our immune system, that is true. But other factors such as the aspects listed above, as well as positive thoughts and feelings or being free of memories that leave us reeling in the hamster wheel of yesterday, are just as important.

What doctors call “psychosomatic” – physical symptoms that exist only in the mind – are in fact the physiological consequences of repeated stress responses that gnaw at the body until it collapses. These complaints are “psychosomatic” in the sense that they actually begin in the head, or rather with a thought or feeling, for example with fear. Our conscious mind, which “sits” in the forward part of the brain, knows that we are afraid and that this is “only” a feeling. But our reptilian brain in the brain stem, the hypothalamus, cannot distinguish between an abstract thought of fear and a real life-threatening situation. It believes that we are immediately threatened by death and triggers a stress response that puts us in a fight-or-flight mode and disables our immune system. The self-preservation and self-repair mechanisms of the body come to a halt. At the same time a whole avalanche of physical reactions is triggered. Hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, the blood vessels leading to the gastrointestinal tract and to the hands and feet contract while the heart and brain are supplied with more blood. Our respiratory rhythm accelerates, the muscles tighten, the production of gastric acid is stimulated, the reproductive organs, on the other hand, are shut down and so on and so forth. This emergency response of the body is actually life-saving, but it is only intended for a short, temporary situation. If this becomes a permanent condition, we get sick, the body can no longer relax, it uses all its energy to survive the apparent emergency and inevitably neglects its protection and repair tasks.

If our thoughts and feelings can cause illness in our physical body, isn’t it therefore a logical reversal conclusion that we can also restore health in exactly the same way? When the conscious forebrain is engaged in positive thoughts and is under the influence of emotions such as love, belonging, closeness, joy and hope, the hypothalamus stops triggering stress reactions. The sympathetic nervous system then switches itself off. Cortisol and adrenaline levels normalise. The parasympathetic nervous system takes control. The immune system is reactivated. And the body can resume its self-repair processes to prevent diseases and contribute to the healing of already existing malfunctions.
The mind heals the body, and not in any esoteric-metaphysical way. It is simply the physiology.
We all know about the healing power of love, and it is not only balm for the soul, but also for the body. Loneliness, anger, fear and bitterness are poisonous for it, but the longing for connection, closeness and belonging to our family, our partner and our friends is deeply rooted in us. If it is fulfilled, the body responds with well-being. Thus, the current call for isolation, avoidance of physical contact and the shutdown of social life is anything but conducive to overcoming the crisis triggered by the coronavirus. Do you believe you’ll get sick? Do you think you’ll stay healthy? How do you answer the questions above? We are not victims of fate, there is power in our thoughts and feelings.

Recommended book relating to this article:
Lissa Rankin M.D.: Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.