By Jessamine Sothard
Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner
We have previously discussed the importance of stress reduction and sleep optimization and learned how improving those two lifestyle factors can improve our lives.
The next pillar of health and wellness we are going to discuss is positive social connections. To better understand this, I am reminded of a quote that shows the impact of our mental health and our perception of reality. In the book, “Feeling is the Secret,” author Neville Goodard explains how your dominant thoughts will imprint on your subconscious and manifest as your reality. Meaning, the dominating thoughts in your mind will become your perception of reality. So, if your dominating thoughts are positive, so will be your perception of reality; and conversely, if your dominating thoughts are negative, so will be your perception of reality.
This is important to note because negative social connections negatively impact our health. Just sitting there having negative thoughts releases inflammatory markers and over time damages our cells and DNA. But that’s not all. Negative social interactions activate our stress response system, which has damaging effects, and can lead to decreased immune system, hormonal imbalances, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression as well as social withdrawal.
Positive social connections start with you. First be mindful of your dominating thoughts. Bring awareness to what you are thinking throughout the day. If your dominating thoughts are predominantly negative, try finding ways to reverse the thought into a positive one, and over time your dominating thoughts will be positive and so will your outlook on reality.
One way to work on this can be daily affirmations. Make a list of your positive qualities, whether you believe them or not. After focusing on those for so long, those qualities will imprint and manifest as your reality. Next, be aware of the energy you are bringing into your relationships and try to be a positive influence on those around you. Also, limit your exposure to toxic behavior and set healthy boundaries for yourself.
Another way to improve positive social connections is to volunteer; being a part of something bigger than you brings a sense of purpose. You can also join a club or a class; by learning with others, you generate new positive social connections. Your thoughts and social connections greatly impact the health of your body as well as your outlook on life. Make choices that influence these in a positive way.
Five pillars – stress, sleep, activity, nutrition and positive social connection – are the very foundation of health and wellness. They empower people to take control of their lives. These five pillars can impact your health in either positive or negative ways.
Sothard will cover the pillars of health and wellness in future articles and during a presentation at the Champaign Family YMCA on Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m.
Triad High School alumna Jessamine Sothard, APRN, is a board certified nurse practitioner and owner of Thrive Integrative Medicine in downtown Urbana. She specializes in chronic disease and functional medicine with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wright State University. Sothard has been invited by the Champaign Family YMCA to speak about the five pillars of optimal health and wellness. Her presentation will be held at the Y on Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m. Members of the community are welcome to attend.