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. All of this makes a whole lot of sense and having a connection to the body in day to day life can help register these changes occurring. Living in the mind, the to-do list and the ‘have to’s’ keeps us blind from all of whats going on in the body.

  2. Great point that stress is a condition created from reaction to life. It is not from us by nature. And this is proven by the fact that our body does not naturally need to be driven to complete tasks just purposefull

  3. A great blog Sue Kira, bringing a deeper understanding of the detrimental way of stress in our lives. Super-stressed-out has become accepted as a normal way of living – taking responsibility for healing trapped emotions and how we are living daily can reverse this, with harmony restored to our body.

  4. “If ‘trapped’ emotions within our body are not released, the effect over time will invariably show up in our health”. When I read these words today they make so much sense but once upon a time I had very little idea that this was actually the case. Stress was just something I lived with because my life was super challenging but what I didn’t realise was, that by not knowing how to deal with the causes of the stress I was constantly adding layer upon layer of more undealt with emotions. It’s no wonder then that at times I felt as if I was ‘drowning’ under the emotional load that I was carrying and the subsequent raft of health issues.

  5. We tend to think of emotions as natural and even cathartic but what if they are just a result of our not having the wisdom to stay centred in our feeling. What if we even have a sense or awareness of something before a feeling and could let our responses come from that place?

  6. This is an important discussion to be having Sue, to consider our emotions play a role in our illness and disease is a great way to begin to heal the underlying causes and not just treating the symptoms. Too many prefer to blame the microwave, or their genetics or see themselves as the victim, but it is a powerful and responsible step when we begin to look at the way we are living and our choices that has created this dis-ease and dis-harmony to impact on the body.

  7. Your question about how long we can endure a stressful situation before it starts to affect your body has all to do with how we react on the situation or stay with ourselves but in essence we all get affected by stress the moment there is an opening and we let it into our body.

  8. Brilliant article Sue. It’s so great to be able to understand what’s happening in the body physiologically and energetically. One supports the other.

  9. We have allowed stress to become part of our normal way of living, when we know deep inside that it is not good for us, and often we choose not to do anything about it, until we are either ill, or something else stops us in our tracks and makes us realise that we can make different choices and live without the need for stress.

  10. So true – so many of us think it is normal to be stressed, that life is stressful and we can easily come up with a list of things to justify our stress, and our life is set up for us to be a perfect consumer by accepting stress as part of life, seeking fixes, buying remedies/distractions/escapes – all in anticipation of stress coming back at the end of respite. Life so doesn’t have to be that way.

  11. It makes sense Sue that the key to changing our stress levels is to change how we respond to stress instead of choosing to react and allowing our body to be harmed. Bringing our focus to deepening our connection with ourselves allows the space to be able to observe situations around us instead of absorbing them.

  12. As I read your blog Sue I can really appreciate how much more we have yet to learn and understand about our human body and its wisdom.

  13. Our thoughts and emotions and behaviours effect our bodies so much more than we are willing to accept, for example if I have a thought that I’m not enough and I start to feel really heavy – that’s an actual energy and I’m sure if we studied our particles at a vibrational level we would see that there has been a change in vibration, and that makes sense that it would effect our physical body all our organs.

  14. What I get from this article is that we are masters of our own destination. It is up to us to realise that we are not victims of our environment and it is how we deal with stress that can have an overall effect on our health.

  15. Wow a truly fascinating and educational article. It makes sense that trapped emotions from buried past experiences and hurts will invariably begin to show up in our health, so to release these is invaluable in restoring harmony in the body and providing the foundation for true well being

  16. Thanks for your description of what happens when we eat when stressed. Perhaps this explains quite a few health problems. If you look at the way we are living and then how we are eating, it’s possible many of us are eating in stress. It’s not only what we eat that has an effect on our health but also how we eat.

  17. A great blog to read thank you Sue; there is no doubt that stress has a major impact on our health and well-being. How we respond to stress and anxiety, by healing the underlying causes, is certainly the key.

  18. “Stress appears to be part of our normal lives, but does it have to be this way?” Well said Sue, because we accept it as normal in our lives we react and allow stress to control our lives yet it is always our choice whether to react or respond to life and being more present provides the space to change our behaviour and open up our awareness.

  19. Great blog Sue; yes it is very important for us to consider how our emotions and our reactions affects our physical health, for inevitably they do.

  20. Thank you for explaining the effects of stress in such a relatable way and highlighting the responsibility that we all have to address this issue before it negatively affects our physical and mental health. I have certainly benefitted from support with changing my vibrations and am now much more easily able to recognise the compression I feel when I choose to allow stress to take over and thus can recognise that I have a choice about whether to continue to let it run my day or to take a moment to come back to myself and let it go.

  21. Addressing technological devices and how they affect us is needed but if we want to get to the root problem of our ailments we have to look at, address and be willing to accept that our emotions and how they affect us have an impact on our wellbeing and our planet.

  22. Bringing energy into the health/wellbeing equation enriches our understanding of what is really going on. It brings legibility into it. It helps to make sense and to understand what is really going on.

  23. Life has become very stressful with deadlines, expectations and commitments we make, however the question for me is are we actually living in a way that supports our body, for example resting our body when we can, going to bed early, listening to our body and choosing foods that support it.

  24. It is not just how we respond to stress that matters but the realisation that we are creating the stress for ourselves in how we react to life and with the substances that we put inside ourselves. I caused myself constant daily stress aided by the thoughts that I allowed to run and by ingesting liberal amounts of caffeine continuously as if on a drip feed during each day.

  25. Great post Sue. I find the Energetic Facial Release, as practised by Universal Medicine practitioners, to be a wonderfully simple modality that is not intrusive and very releasing of tension and held emotions.

  26. Thank you Sue for clearly showing how we have a responsibility for the vibration of the atoms in our body and how the way we live can affect the natural harmony of the rhythms of our organs.

  27. It’s funny what we do know and yet we don’t take it deeper. How could we know something or a part of something but almost neglect taking that awareness any deeper? We all know that stress is not a great thing for our bodies and yet on the whole most will just say “I need to get rid of stress and I’ll be okay” but we never take a step any further, often saying it’s just great to talk about it. It is great to talk about but also put actions in place that support what we are talking about. Whether we start a daily diary and then reflect on it weekly to see what patterns are reoccurring or we choose to go and have treatment from someone, merely talking about things like stress don’t always lead us out of them. There is an ongoing relationship here that needs to keep deepening at every point if we are going to bring true change. You can’t just wake up one day and have no stress or go on holidays and have no stress etc, it will always be there knocking on the door and it’s just the way you answer that knock that will need the dedication.

  28. Makes perfect sense, and is surprising this isn’t talked about more regularly in society. We all know it to be true, even if we do try to find reasons for why it can’t be true.

  29. I agree that trauma is physical, emotional and mental in its scarring. The years don’t diminish the impact if we haven’t learned how to heal the long term legacy of whatever we have faced.

  30. Living with stress has become normal for many, but its not natural and I can see how its affects lead to illness and disease. I like the way you talked about our atoms vibrating in a harmonious way or not depending on how we are choosing to live. This makes a lot of sense to me and its a different very tangible feeling inside when I am stressed compared to when I feel at ease and calm.

  31. “If we change the way we respond to stress then it doesn’t have to affect us harmfully.” Well said Sue, what you have shared here is the key to making the choice to observe and respond to situations in life instead of reacting and absorbing them and harming our body.

  32. I have learnt much from your sharing Sue! This I can take into my life as I learn to let stress go.

  33. Thank you Sue, I found this blog fascinating. I love the way you described the behaviour of atoms. It’s as if by delving deep into the tiniest expression you unlock the truth of the whole. This reminds me that there is no beginning or end to anything. I usually take things bigger in order to understand them ie – look to the way the universe operates or consider extremes (ie. if 500 cigarettes are harmful then one cigarette is harmful). Whether we drill ‘down’ to microscopic cells or ‘up’ to the biggest brightest star the reflection of truth is the same.

  34. It doesn’t take rocket science to know the effect stress has on our bodies. The tension we can feel is palpable and it is no surprise that if the body is consistently in such tension it can lead to other health issues. Often we can blame the external factors of life but really it is our choice to how we respond (or react) to life. Knowing it is a choice places the power and responsibility back in our own hands and is actually quite liberating.

  35. “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 deeper we go – the more space there is. This gives us a clue as to why ‘surface dwelling’ causes us so much constriction and tension. There is deeper we can go in the quest to find who we truly are. This is an inward (soulful) search that takes the body with us, not an outward (spiritual) one that leaves our body behind.

  36. In my experience, if I allow stress to run the show, I become unable to function effectively – I can’t think straight, I feel physically shaken and very anxious, my body can’t digest food so if I eat it passes straight through me, I want to retreat and hide from the world and I feel uncommitted and given up on myself and life. This then becomes a self-perpetuating cycle so the only way to stop this is to change how I am moving by bringing conscious awareness to my movements, which supports me to change my thoughts which is where the stress is being generated from.

  37. Stress is a large problem for society, with greater demands being placed on us individually, at work and our home life too, it feels like we live in the fast lane on the motorway of life, not being able to get off, but having to cope with everything and everyone else, no one wants to wait for an answer and we are living in an instant world. Eventually something has to give and either we choose to support our body or we get a stop that gives us an opportunity to make changes, and more loving choices.

  38. Hi Sue, I love the idea that every organ in our body vibrates at a different frequency. And it has been my personal experience that ‘the thoughts we have can change the pattern of the vibration of our atoms,’ thus creating disharmony in the body. Being a physics teacher, this makes a lot of sense to me.

  39. I have definitely noticed as a health care practitioner that physical conditions and problems are linked to psychological states of being and that stress/anxiety, exhaustion and tension in the body affect physical health.

  40. Makes sense that when we are stressed there is a lack of space and it feels like everything is crowding in on you and you don’t feel like you can breathe, getting to truly know our bodies and how they are affected opens our awareness and understanding of illness and disease.

  41. We all know stress affects our health, but ‘how long you can endure a stressful situation before it starts to affect your body?’ Or is it immediately?

  42. We all tend to live as if emotions were a good thing and to be encouraged, but the fact is that emotions disrupt our natural harmony and they also disrupt others natural harmony and so they are therefore harming of both ourselves and at the same time of others. The teaching that Serge Benhayon has given of observe and don’t absorb is key to learning to master emotions.

  43. The past can inform the present so much so that we become stressed when in the present there is no need to do so. ” 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.” The Universal Medicine modalities and their practitioners are invaluable in this regard.

  44. It really is obvious that stress has an enormous effect upon us… The thing is stress is endemic in our society and is truly taking an enormous toll with a consequent weighing down of our health systems… When we hear of something that truly deals with stress surely it is time to take note of what is being offered

  45. Thankyou Sue, the truth is that our stress levels can be incredibly high when the situations around us may not warrant such a high stress response. Our bodies can live the reality of extreme stress from our thoughts and emotions even though our outer environment may not truly reflect the need for such a response.

  46. We have made stress normal in our lives so that we champion rushing about and getting things ticked off our lists – I certainly did this. But we know stress is very damaging to our bodies, it makes us exhausted and miserable, and yet we do not question why we are stressed in the first place..

  47. “The rate at which atoms vibrate determines what an object actually is.” Thank you Sue, this sentence is a beautiful illustration of the statement ‘Everything is energy’.

  48. If we are willing to be totally honest we all actually know that stress is not normal – so we should be asking ourselves – why do we fall for this big, fat debilitating lie?

  49. The deeper we go, the more space we find. Surely this is a clue that true space exploration is found within our own bodies and not ‘out there’ in the cosmos. The philosophers of ancient Greece understood what Hermes taught: “As above, so to below,” but we as a humanity have allowed ourselves to drift from such wisdom and become seduced by the glamour of ‘life on other planets’ when we do not yet truly understand nor appreciate the life upon our own…

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