The Mind-Body Connection: the effect of stress on our bodies

by Sue Kira, Naturopath, Gold Coast, Australia

Stress appears to be part of our normal lives, but does it have to be this way? What is stressful to one person can often have no affect on another. Stress occurs as a result of the way we think and react to life.

If we change the way we respond to stress then it doesn’t have to affect us harmfully. And that has to be good for us because science is now validating what we have intuitively known for years: stress can have a destructive effect on our bodies.

For example, you have probably been told not to go swimming directly after eating. This is not an old wives’ tale. It has more to do with a scientific reason that relates to our nervous and vascular systems.

The body’s parasympathetic nervous system governs the digestive systems. When we eat a meal our nervous system shunts a large volume of blood via the vascular system to the organs of digestion, assimilation and elimination. If we go for a swim or run while digesting food, there is less blood supply available for the heart, lungs, arm and leg muscles. As a result we can suffer from cramps. Not so good if we are in the water, as this can lead to drowning.

A similar thing happens in reverse if we eat when we are stressed. In a state of stress, the nervous system automatically shunts a large volume of blood via the vascular system to the heart, lungs and limbs as a protective measure. This is known as the ‘flight or fight’ response, to help us to escape danger. As a result, blood vessels in other parts of the body are constricted and blood flow reduced. Not only is the digestive system affected, other problems may occur such as high blood pressure and migraine headaches because the blood vessels to the brain are constricted.

Do you see the mind body connection?

As a holistic practitioner I often help clients realise that there is more to their state of health than the obvious virus, deficiency, parasite, fungus etc. Sometimes it is necessary to dig deeper to show them what message their body is trying to convey.

Because it appears we lack a clear form of communication between the mind and the body, the body has to give us signals to help us work out what to do. It’s a bit like playing charades or looking at the symbology of dreams.

Many of us are aware that stress lowers our immune defences and know that if we are run down and stressed, that is when we are more prone to getting sick. But many still have very little understanding of the ‘why’ behind it all.

There is the scientific view that explains how there is a change of chemicals and hormones in our body stimulated by stressful situations. However, this doesn’t account for how we can get different disorders in different people, even though their stress factors may appear to be the same.

The answer is related to energy and the quality of our energy is affected by how we feel. I’ll explain…

Everything on this earth whether dead or alive, metal, wood or flesh is made up of trillions of vibrating atoms. Prior to working in naturopathy I worked in science labs using electron microscopes that could magnify thousands of times and go deeper and deeper into an object. It became clear to me that eventually you get to only vibrating atoms and empty spaces between atoms.

The rate at which atoms vibrate determines what an object actually is. Similarly, every organ and body part vibrates at different frequencies. This is the basis for energy medicine, which aims to restore harmony to the vibrations of the atoms that make up our body.

The thoughts we have can change the pattern of the vibration of our atoms. Consequently the way we react to stress in our life, whether emotional or physical, can have an impact on our health.

Many technological devices around us have the potential to affect us. It is easy to blame technology for our ailments, but the way we let emotions affect us has much more impact on our health than all of these devices.

We also blame our genes (genetics) but science has also shown through ‘epigenetics’ that we can ‘switch off’ or ‘switch on’ gene expressions depending on our emotional environment and how we look after ourselves. Identical twin studies have shown that if one twin is stressed more than the other, then the stressed twin has more health problems than the less stressed twin.

So we can change our vibrations quite easily by the way we think, feel and deal with life. Taking time to stop and be still and learning to breathe gently through our nose is something that can help us, along with eating wholesome fresh unprocessed foods, drinking clean fresh water, breathing clean air, doing regular gentle exercise and truly nurturing ourselves.

However, it is very important to consider how our emotional life is affecting us.

Have you ever seen someone turn ‘white as a sheet’ or ‘as red as a beetroot’? This is a direct result of the responsiveness of our internal system to various emotions. These emotions affect our cardiovascular system and can affect blood flow to different organs and can disrupt the harmony of the mind-body connection.

If ‘trapped’ emotions within our body are not released, the effect over time will invariably show up in our health. Consider how long you can endure a stressful situation before it starts to affect your body. Buried past experiences and hurts can be trapped in the body and sometimes we need the help of an experienced practitioner to resolve these, to help bring them to our awareness and release them.

My preferred and recommended form of energy healing is the esoteric healing modalities taught by Serge Benhayon of Universal Medicine, of which I am a perpetual student.


381 thoughts on “The Mind-Body Connection: the effect of stress on our bodies

  1. Sue this is a fascinating blog and I wish that we were taught from young about energy and how it affects us as it is such an absorbing subject. Surely if we all had the opportunity to look down electron microscopes to the point where we can see vibrating atoms and empty spaces between the atoms this would give us a whole different perspective on life and how life is?

  2. Sue I loved the depth you have gone into how the body works. Our ‘emotional life’ has a massive effect on us, and our bodies and we are not taught this in schools or at biology lessons. If I had know this years ago, I ponder on how my life or my body would have been if I had taken heed of the connection from early on in my life. What I appreciate that it is never too late to commence this healing and agree that esoteric healing, is also my preferred way too – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  3. It all makes so much sense! I am the body’s biggest fan, I just find that I am not as honouring of its communication as I should be because I realise how loudly it has to speak to me sometimes.

    1. I agree Lucy, I am not honouring of the body’s communication either and totally agree, it can speak quite loudly by either stopping you or paining you in your tracks. Sometimes the choice is not given…

  4. We have so much input into the level of stress we put on our internal systems but we need to understand them in the way you have shared with us here. Thank you for taking us all to a deeper understanding of how our bodies communicate stress, and how we can listen.

  5. Just to come to understand that “The thoughts we have can change the pattern of the vibration of our atoms” is such valuable wisdom. Most would consider that thoughts are just in our head, not affecting the rest of our body, but this one wise statement certainly changes all that. Thoughts have just as much an impact on our body as any other behaviour of ours, so to be aware of this in everything we do, will serve to care for this wonderful vehicle which supports us through life, much more deeply that perhaps we do now,

  6. When we are stressed emotionally it is usually accompanied by exhaustion which is a clear indication that our physiology is working over-time. So stress causes more stress.

  7. Yes we can do all the ‘right things’ in terms of eating, sleeping, exercising, but if we are still living emotional lives that can have a big impact on the body.

  8. I love that at close-up we are all vibrating atoms and the space in-between, and it is only by vibration everything defines itself.

  9. Since healing past experiences in my body, i can feel much more space and lightness and am less reactive to what is going on around me.

  10. A person definitely feels different when past hurts are released from the body; there is this sense of space and freedom. So, it makes sense that as these hurts are compounded over the years that we feel dense and thoughts are reflective of that.

  11. “However, it is very important to consider how our emotional life is affecting us.” Our body is constantly trying to deal with the aftermath of our emotions, as it leaves much for the body to deal with, higher blood pressure, faster heart beat, over eating etc. Eventually our body gets overloaded and we end up with an illness or disease.

  12. The more we are able to commit to staying present with ourselves and building a steadiness in our foundation and way of living it is possible to observe and discern situations in life with the space to know how to respond rather than go into reaction and stress and get affected by what we see.

  13. “Consequently the way we react to stress in our life, whether emotional or physical, can have an impact on our health.” Nowadays the way we live and the fast pace of life means we are dealing with a lot of stress on a day to day basis, and finding ways to cope with that stress is really important I have found the Esoteric Yoga a great way to bring a greater stillness and surrender.

  14. Wow a fascinating insight into the body thank you – if the body moves blood around when we eat or if we are stressed then what else does it do to compensate when we are tired, or when we push ourselves too hard, or when we feel upset – could these things be more than just things we experience but things our body actually has to find different ways to compensate for?

    1. I imagine it is like a stream finding the most efficient way through; it carves its way and when that way is tight or blocked it either builds up tension to try to force its way through or it has to carve another less efficient way.

  15. This is great Sue, there is definitely much more to health than just the physical body, an holistic approach has certainly worked for me by combining esoteric medicine and Western Medicine. Understanding how I feel and how that impacts on my body, the stress response as you say, is very supportive. To me it’s good common sense to include the whole person in any healing, and my two doctors are so wonderfully supportive in this way helping me to become aware of issues within me and how I live that might be contributing to my conditions. I also was in awe of this line about the fact everything is energy ” It became clear to me that eventually you get to only vibrating atoms and empty spaces between atoms”, thank you Sue!

  16. It may be something that is ‘out there’ at this moment in time with most people but it has to make sense to me that every ailment the body communicates with me is a message, whether I like it or not or want to deal with or not, to support me and when I embrace my body’s communication, I offer and give myself an opportunity to heal.

  17. There are the inevitable stresses and strains in life which we cannot avoid however, what we do have a say in is how we respond or react to these stresses. I have just realised that intensity actually has the word ‘in’ within it, meaning that things only get intense if we take them in or on!

  18. We all complain about stress as if it is something from outside being imposed on us. Well I did anyway. But the truth is we create the stress ourselves in how we are living and being in the world.

  19. Interesting approach to understand emotions and how they energetically affect our body and its chemical configuration.

  20. We do know how to live, and our body’s natural rhythms – so what gets in the way of letting go and living in that natural way? We’ve become accustomed to accepting a certain level of stress in our lives, that we consider to be ‘normal’ but is actually far from it. Time to look at what we’re prioritising over the health and natural rhythms of our bodies, and why this is: is what we think is needed really worth putting on our body on the line for?

  21. It feels like many, including myself, have used being stressed as an excuse for why we are not functioning as well as we could be but have taken very little responsibility for how we ended up in that situation and how we have the power to change our situation before it leads to illness and disease. Thank you for offering a deeper understanding of what is happening and the support that is available when we choose to access it.

  22. Really fascinating to read about the the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. I read a little sign on a wall the other day saying how being angry or stressed weakens our immune system while laughing strengthens it … yet again another sign telling us how we choose to live affects our body, health and wellbeing.

  23. I think it’s time we really recognised that what we feel actually dramatically affects our bodies, stress is an easy example because we can physiologically feel the pressure it puts inside us by speeding everything up. But could it be that everything we feel affects all our organs and internal processes?

  24. This is fascinating. I just love all the details of what happens in our body on a physiological level. It’s just incredible how these workings are put together and get replicated in each and every body of ours. It is simply unfathomable.

  25. Changing the way we respond rather than react to stress is really the key to not harming ourselves I agree Sue and the more we stay present and aware with ourselves the more space we create to be able to observe and discern the truth of what is happening in any situation we face first in order to know exactly how to respond.

  26. ‘If ‘trapped’ emotions within our body are not released, the effect over time will invariably show up in our health.’ Beautifully said, if we don’t let go of old hurts, they stay in the body and slowly our body deteriorates in one way or another until we either get a wake up call, or we realise that there are still things we need to clear.

    1. I had never considered the many times I blushed or went pale was my body communicating with me, I always felt it was my body letting me down. How much more empowering is the former approach and therefore worth considering.

  27. “Because it appears we lack a clear form of communication between the mind and the body, the body has to give us signals to help us work out what to do.” Yet so many of us ignore what our body is telling us, overriding the symptoms and wanting a quick fix or a pill, rather than making different life-style choices.

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