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Your mental and emotional state affect your physical health in a big way.

The reverse, or how your physical health affects your emotions, is clearer to see.

If we have an injury and it takes awhile to recover, and we can get frustrated. Or if we have a nagging, chronic, health complaint, we can get depressed.

BUT, the other side of the coin is much, much more powerful for your overall success in remaining healthy, happy, and balanced throughout your life.

Your mental and emotional state can literally shape your genetics for generations to come (it’s called epigenetic and I explain it in my video).

Complaints like anxiety, depression, frustration, and chronic stress are often overlooked and undervalued in terms of their importance in your health.

We’re encouraged to minimize them, hide them, and “stay strong” on the surface while our insides are crumbling.

Then we wonder why we develop an ulcer, or chronic neck pain, or any other number of physical complaints that seem to come out of the blue.

Let me connect the dots for you.

I’ll show you why your mental and emotional health impact your physical health, and more importantly, I’ll outline some great ways and resources on how to care for yourself mentally and emotionally, as well as how to release accumulated junk in all levels of your body, mind, and spirit.


Check out my video to learn:

  • How and why our physical health is impacted by our mental and emotional state
  • My 2 favorite ways to demonstrate the impact of our mental outlook on our physical health so you can start connecting the dots
  • How the field of epigenetic is transforming how we think about our genes as a predetermined fate
  • Meaningful tips on how to improve your mental and emotional health
  • Great resources for if you want to read more on the mind-body connection
Full Video Transcript
How much do your emotions really affect your physical health? I'm Dr. Liz Carter and today I want talk a little bit how significant our emotions are in this mind body connection that we all have. How much they play into our physical health and then what we can do about it to improve our mental and emotional health so we then improve our physical health.

So I think we all understand part of this loop here which is exactly why I drew it out. I think we all really understand how physical health impacts mental health. That's the most obvious connection between these two aspects of our being in that mind body connection I was beginning to mention.

Our physical health, of course we can see it, it's in front of us, we get it, we understand that maybe if we're hurt from an accident or we have a chronic condition which is really most likely what will help, what will affect our mental health that it can cause some depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, we can understand that direct cause from a physical ailment to affecting our mental and emotional health. I think that's usually the way we think about this cycle.

Then we understand that okay, maybe our mental health has been affected so this is what we associate it with. Our mental health must have a physical cause. I think that's the way most of us see it.

And actually I would like to talk about mostly in this video, how it really starts on the mental and emotional level. Most illnesses start here and translate to physical. That's kind of turning everything on it's head, don't worry I'm going to connect the dots for you a little bit here as well. And some of you intuitively might already feel that.

That if we've had this overwhelming amount of emotional input from a post traumatic stress disorder or lifelong anxiety and depression we can start to see that over the years when those conditions have been chronic enough, it does start to lead into physical conditions.

We might develop an ulcer, which we know is directly related to stress. We might develop chronic tension in our neck and shoulders. Other types of pains, some people have it go right to the GI. Other people it might show up as skin issues. That type of overall thing. The idea is that there are many, many layers to health and layers to the body. With the mental and emotional level you start there in terms of accumulation. Accumulating things from your environment, your diet, as crazy as that sounds, all food have this energetic level as well to them.

Relationships, work, all kinds of things. Those kind of pile up in this mental and emotional layer. And if we let those sit and accumulate long enough, over time they will start to trickle into physical. Because mental and emotional layers are more core and central to our being if that makes sense. They are more vital. Which sounds a little bit crazy, well I need my heart to actually pump circulation and blood of course you do, absolutely.

There's a protective effect by having those core mental and emotional layers where we're putting lots of accumulation into those layers while protecting the physical body, the thing that actually physical has to keep us alive, if that makes sense.

By accumulating in the mental and emotional layers our body's giving us a buffer. It's saying, "Hey, we've got some issues here, but it might be a little anxiety or little bit of anger, something like that, you should really pay attention to it." And then unfortunately most of the time we don't. We just kind of let that go. I think I'd say it's culture has a very strange relationship with mental health where if you have any of these issues bubbled up, bubbling up, you're encouraged to push them back down, just get through it, work harder, put your head down and you'll be fine.

It's not really accepting of any of these mental health issues. It doesn't mean you have to have schizophrenia or bipolar though those happen as well of course. They're a little more advanced conditions. But just even something like general anxiety or stress that we all have, this chronic stress in our environment all the time.

It's just not looked on favorably and it's look on as a weakness whereas really it's your body giving you the signal, a warning sign saying, "Hey gotta pay attention to this, otherwise I'm going to start really getting your attention by pushing this mental and emotional accumulation into physical, into your physical body."

Usually those mental and emotional symptoms are really fabulous warning signs. Good to pay attention to them. For the rest of you I really want to get into how this actually happens because I don't think it's very obvious. It's certainly not as obvious as physical health impacting mental health. So let's dive on in.

Most illness starts at the mental and emotional level. I got ahead of myself there for this slide. Yes we talked about that. How that accumulates on that level. So let's just skip onto the next slide here.

The first thing that I'd like to talk about, I've got two things I want to run you through in terms of how we can see how this mental and emotional stuff accumulates physically or will translate into that physical level. The first thing that's really cool is called cellular memory. This is a concept that I learned in my training through cranial sacral therapy. Which is a form or an offshoot of osteopathic medicine. A lot of massage therapists have also heard of this term as well.

Let me take you through what this actually means. We don't usually think of our cells as having a memory. We think of our memories as being stored in the brain, these signals between neurons that are released by neurotransmitters communicating between the neurons and that's about it. However the concept of cellular memory is saying that you do actually store memory throughout your entire body.

And I have to say as a natural healthcare practitioner and I do a fair amount of body work in my practice. I have seen this happen time and time again as I'm sure most other people who do body work have as well. And those who experience it themselves, those who go get body work.

It's stored in the tissue, not the brain. Instead of being stored in nerves, it's actually stored in the cells which is fascinating. And it's usually stored in a vibrational frequency which I think we'll get into on the next slide. The other interesting thing about cellular memory is that it is much harder to edit. Which is interesting. If we think about our own memories in terms of the cognitive memories that we have conscious access to, those are a little bit malleable.

We can think back and then second guess ourselves and think did I really do that? Or we can even rewrite them in our own head which is why eyewitness testimony is such a unreliable source sometimes. We second guess ourselves quite a bit and the brain will start believing that sometimes and rewriting things.

Cellular memory is because it's stored in the cells and we don't have conscious access to it a lot of the time, it stays. It's not being influenced by our own thought patterns quite as directly as cognitive memory. It is influenced by our thought patterns but not in the same way that we can actually rewrite it. Usually it has to be released first or the vibration shifted for that to happen.

I've heard it equated to cognitive memories being more like a digital camera where you can get into Photoshop and edit things and shift a bit more whereas cellular memory being more like a filmstrip where it's etched into the chemicals in that filmstrip. You can manipulate certain things about it, maybe like exposure and contrast but somethings are just really, really ingrained there and you're not going to shift that.

Moving on to a little bit more about cellular memory here. Cellular memory is stored in MAPS. So let me tell you what that is. In vibrational signals. MAPS is microtubule associated proteins. What really interesting about this is there are microtubules everywhere. They make up the cytoskeleton or the internal structure of your cells. What's really interesting as well is these microtubules don't stop in the cells they actually communicate outside of the cells.

They connect other cells to each other essentially. It forms this interconnected living matrix of cells which is super fabulous. It's really interesting. The microtubules do so many things. They transport ions and nutrients and waste products and all kinds of things between cells. They're incredibly vital for life. What's interesting is they also can store memory in the form of vibrational signals.

That might be a new concept. We are at our core, vibrational beings there are a lot of systems of medicine based around that. We can think of sound healing as one of them. Homeopathy is also highly based around vibrational frequencies in medicine. We can understand that we respond to vibration, we respond to if there's fireworks that's pretty loud and intense or a car crash. And unfortunately these are very jarring vibrations that I'm bringing up. We also respond to pleasant vibrations if you've ever had Tibetan singing bowls or may birds chirping or even being in a favorite emotional state of yours literally changes our vibrational frequency.

What's interesting is, the MAPS or the microtubule associated proteins in the cells store those vibrations. So it's created this map of these vibrational states that you've been in in your lifetime. That's why it's interesting and it's more difficult to rewrite directly. We can't actually think about that and shift it. We can if we decide to shift our vibrational state. It kind of depends on the memory itself. Sometimes it can just be, we can help to shift ourselves and other times it really does need to be released.

Speaking of releases, a big way to do this is somatic release triggers the release of these memories. This is what happens where if you've ever had a massage or maybe you were a body worker yourself, you press a point and someone gets angry or they start crying. I've had several instances in my own acupuncture practice where I'll put in a few points that are geared towards maybe the lung organ grief and people will start spontaneously crying on the table. It's a very, very real reaction.

They get a little bit upset and confused because they don't understand why they're crying and crying is usually uncomfortable and looked at as a bad thing and they're embarrassed I'm actually really, really excited when people start doing this because it means that we're getting this somatic release. We are changing some vibrational frequencies. We're releasing some of these stored memories that don't need to be there. That are disrupting healthy vibrations.

We're talking to the body in that way and it's a really positive and beautiful process and experience. If you have this happen, please don't be worried, please don't be afraid, it's a really fabulous way that your starting to heal and you're starting to alter these vibrational frequencies that have this cellular memory or cellular trauma stored up in them.

Sometimes an interesting way to think about it is when we're under chronic stress that is a certain vibration or frequency pattern and our muscles get tense and tight. Then we start walking around like that over time and we might hunched or our posture changes. It's reacting to what we've stored in our cells based on stress. If that makes sense.

Other people might have it in their hands and wrists, other people it might go to GI but we can see physically how that stress translates into this memory in our body. That's a really easy way to look at it and think about it and personally I would think about things that are different for you, that are relevant to you. Think about different difficult mental or emotional states and how your body physically responded to that.

That's also the most easily seen in people who unfortunately have post traumatic stress disorder. Where they have a mental and emotional trigger, something that reminds them of this traumatic event and then they have a very, very physical and physiological reaction and response. That is partially cellular memory. We've got an interplay of cognitive and cellular. But a lot of times it'll come out of the blue and they don't know what happened, that's more like cellular memory.

So we can see that mental and emotional does actually translate to our physical body and get stored there. My second favorite thing here to show the mind body connection is the placebo effect. I'm sure we've all heard of this it's super fascinating stuff. We hear about it a lot in medical research. Of course we think double blind placebo controlled studies, we hear that. That means that we've got one group where maybe we give a drug to or an intervention and another where sometimes we'll give them nothing or more often we'll give them a placebo where maybe it's also a pill but it's a sugar pill or it doesn't have anything in it.

When we hear about placebo and people responding to placebo you kind of laugh it off. Or at least I did when I came from a very researched oriented background. Where it's like, that's kind of silly, right? They didn't even have the intervention and they got better, whatever. But I would like to stop and say how freaking awesome is that? That you just need a suggestion of a healing modality or treatment even if it's as simple as a pill and your body's like, great, okay, I've got what I need, I am going to heal myself up. I'm going to fix this. So amazing how powerful our minds are.

So I love to flip the idea of the placebo effect that it's not this thing to be scoffed at or that's it's interfering with medical research. It's amazing and it's telling us exactly that we have this mind body connection and that it is vitally important and that sometimes we don't even need medication, we need the idea that we are being helped and how we are being helped.

Of course people that it's been studied and shown that people that are more suggestible are more open to the placebo effect. I think suggestibility and gullibility usually is looked at as a weakness or a bad trait but it's really fabulous in that you can suggest things mentally and truly affect your physical health.

What's neat is yeah, it works even if you know it's placebo. Which is kind of crazy. There's been studies that have been done to show that they're not only saying here's the intervention and then the other group has the placebo, they're not saying this is the drug, they're saying this is the placebo, this is not a medication and it still works. So cool. That's really talking about the subconscious mind that maybe we don't have access to but on some level we still feel like we are being helped enough that we are literally rewriting that vibrational frequency and energy and breaking things up and letting go of some of that physical accumulation. Which is pretty amazing.

The placebo effect continued. We can see real physiological change. Which is amazing. There are studies that have been done showing with certain drugs being withdrawn in the middle of a study and the brain continuing to produce the same reactions and chemicals that it was producing with the drug. Which is fabulous, super cool. I know I'm saying that a lot but it's really exciting and it's fascinating to me. I hope it's fascinating to you too.

And then we can literally alter our genes. Which this is kind of a new idea out here. I think people especially with mental and emotional things anxiety and depression think, "Oh it's just genetics, I'm programmed this way." And a lot of western docs talk about it. You have a biochemical imbalance and there's nothing you can do about it because this is just how you're made. That can not be farther from the truth. Yes there is a biochemical imbalance but that does not mean that you can't change it.

What I've written down here is epigenetic changes. The field of epigenetics is this new field that evolving and emerging and it's telling us that our genes are changed by our environment. They're changed by how we experience life essentially. Which is fabulous. This means you can literally rewrite your genes with the food you eat, the environment you're in, you're mental and emotional state, all of those things play into your genetic hand.

It's not this predetermined, predestined thing for all of your genes. It's a really, really complex picture. There's some really great stuff even coming out showing that what you're eating this generation will affect your children and your children's children, essentially three generations down the line at a minimum and I've heard up to seven generations as well.

Really, really interesting stuff. And I hope gives you hope to be able to change and not resigned to your fate which I think a lot of people feel like they are. You really do have the power to shift things. Mental and emotional work is amazingly helpful.

Just want to summarize here with a take home. If we care for ourselves mentally and emotionally we will feel better physically. I hope that I've made that clear especially through these two interesting principles. If we affect that mental and emotional core and we take down some of the accumulation there, we are going to take down physical.

And oftentimes the physical symptoms will resolve before the mental and emotional because we're taking some of the accumulation out of those deep core layers and physical which is that thing to really get our attentions and come into our consciousness a little bit more will be healed first.

Which is great but it also means we still need to pay attention to that mental and emotional bit because once physical symptoms are resolved we can breathe a sigh of relief and say, "Oh my gosh, it feels so much better." But it's really important to still work on that mental and emotional piece of your health. That mind body connection, they are interrelated, they always are and it's really important to take care of that.

Onto the next part, how. How do I actually do this? You've talked a lot about mental and emotional self care, you might already have some really good things you do and coping mechanisms for yourself. But I just wanted to summarize a few things that could be really helpful if you're new to this or you want a refresher. Things that I've found helpful for myself and my patients.

Affirmations are absolutely fantastic. If you don't know what those are, those are positive statements that you say to yourself regularly throughout the day at least once a day. You can write your own, you can find some in books and resources. One of my favorite books is Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life. She talks a lot about this mental and emotional influence on physical health. It's fabulous.

One thing I wanted to say too, I'm not sure I mentioned it, of course if you have a physical injury, that's not necessarily going to come from the mental emotional level. If you have a trauma or you sprain or strain or break your leg. It's not necessarily mentally and emotionally. Some people would argue that mentally and emotionally you predisposed yourself to that.

Louise Hay does think of that or talk about that, that's why I've thought of this right now. Interesting to think about that way as well, that maybe there was something in there that opened you up to that happening in your life. But anyway, not all physical comes from the mental emotional realm.

Meditation is another wonderful way to influence positive thoughts and just give yourself space to breathe and increase your awareness about your life. It's really fabulous. And you can actually change the vibrational frequency of your body and your brainwaves in meditation once you get into that deep, deep level.

Creative time. Another really important thing. Creative time is just nurturing the self. It's anything that you find meaningful. I specifically like creating. Putting something out into the universe because I think a lot of times we really focus on consuming. We take a lot in and we don't often feel the benefit of creating something. Of putting out into the world. That doesn't mean that you have to post it for all the internet to see for anybody. It can just be for yourself.

But having some outlet something coming out that processing these emotions, is really important. That doesn't mean that you have take up painting and say, "I'm going to paint about my grief or my anger." A lot of times it's just stream of consciousness, you let whatever needs to come out come out. And that's the beauty of the process. Whatever comes up for you is what needs to be processed. Oftentimes it can surprise you what does come up. But that creative time is really, really crucial to affecting this positive mental and emotional change.

And white space. Of course we don't have enough downtime and rest in our lives. That's really going to get us a lot of reward mentally and emotionally. Creating some space for there to be process and when we start to create white space in our lives we often have lots of thoughts bubble up and lots of anxiety issues or things like that. Because the body is saying, "Wow, I've got this opening now, I am going to use I am going to shunt all of this stuff that's been irritating me out this way."

Just give yourself a little bit of time. Oftentimes there's this bubble of things that needs to come out at first. So if you need to devote a little bit more time at first great and then you'll notice a taper. And then as things happen in your life maybe stresses or traumas, it'll come back up. It's supposed to be a waxing and waning process it's natural for that to happen. But the white space, the rest, the downtime is crucial for this mental and emotional health.

In summary it would be to find your placebo and make it a routine. Find whatever pill form it is. Think about those people in the study that were given a pill that was a sugar pill and they knew it was a sugar pill and it still worked. Find whatever it is that's that meaningful to you to do for yourself everyday. That's the big message here. You can do it once and a while but it's much more effective if it's a routine 'cause then we minimize accumulation of what's going on in the body.

I wanted to address as well, how do we get rid of things that are already accumulated? Of course some of the things that we just talked about with the affirmations and the meditation and the white space, that is going to help take out some of the mental and emotional buildup. It's going to move things out which is exactly what we want. But if we've got this cellular memory and there's things stored in the physical body, what else can we do? What can we do physically to move that out?

Body work is essential. If you notice, most of these things or all these things on the list do not involve you speaking. Not that it's not lovely when you speak but the point is to get out our way of verbal processing. Because again, that's very mental. Counseling is lovely, I certainly don't want to discourage you from that but there is a massive amount of value to these non-verbal forms of medicine and treatment for yourself. Because then we're not getting in our own way mentally.

We're actually letting the body access what it needs to and bring things up and move things out as it needs to. It's a really beautiful process. Body work like massage, rolfing, reiki can be lovely as well. Hydrotherapy, that's a big part of naturopathic medicine, it's working with water. There's specifically spa therapies, I've written a couple posts on the spa that I'll link to after this and how exceptionally helpful they are for your health. Especially helping to regulate that parasympathetic nervous system. All of these treatments can change the vibrational frequency of your body which is exactly how we access that cellular memory and get it to release.

Sauna as well infrared sauna or dry sauna. Little more stimulating but again creating space, creating downtime and letting go. Encouraging this physical process of letting go. And when you encourage the physical process of letting go oftentimes that sparks the mental and emotional process of letting go as well.

Homeopathy I talked about a little bit ago where that is a vibrational form of medicine. And tuning forks. Tuning forks are really neat. They usually are used in conjunction on acupuncture points or acupressure. They're vibrational forks that you apply to these certain points in certain order and there are different forks that vibrate differently. It's a really neat treatment and feel free to look it up or experience some yourself. Which again affects our vibrational frequency.

I hope this was really interesting for you. I hope it gave you some insight into a little more concrete insight into that mind body connection. I'll certainly provide some links for you on what I've talked about at the end of the video here, in the show notes.

Making that a little more concrete in seeing that it really does have this very, very strong connection and that's usually what I believe in the most with treating my patients. That's part of why I do body work, that's part of why I incorporate counseling and especially five element acupuncture because it's meant to work on that mental emotional and spiritual level.

Usually I've had patients that I've solely treated in that mental emotional spiritual level and suddenly they're drastically improved physically. It's is one of the coolest things that I get to see in my practice, I love it, that's why I love talking about this because I think it's very easy to brush off in terms of affirmations are silly or I don't need to meditate or whatever.

That only this physical work is what's really going to get it done. But oftentimes addressing that mental emotional level is really, really meaningful and where you need to start a lot of the time. These are lovely therapies as well to help augment that process.

That's it for today, thanks so much, take care.

Okay I lied, one more quick thing here. I wanted to show you some books in case you wanted to read little bit more about this. I did mention Louise Hay's How to Heal Your Life and I'll link to that in the show notes.

This is an entire book devoted to the placebo effect. How cool is that? If you're curious about it and you want to learn more, he's got some really amazing stories in here about the placebo effect, how it's changed people's lives, how it's affected them, how it came to be. And then how you can incorporate it. What you can do about it. I think he focuses a lot on meditation and teaches you how to do that at the end.

This is kind of a classic in this mind body connection field by Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief. He's a MD PhD who went into this field of research and started studying this mind body connection. He's got a ton of really amazing information in there for you as well.

These are great resources if you want to dive into it a little bit more. And check them out.

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