Patient Prep: The Healing Mindset

A difficult diagnosis can alter your life plans and ultimately change your life. 

But, surprisingly, it doesn’t have to. 

Keeping your future dreams alive has shown to accelerate healing. Individuals that have a strong sense of purpose are more likely to take action and steps toward a healthier life. It gives one a reason to get healthy. And it gives a person something to live for. Consequently, this leads to greater success in treatment and healing.

But it’s a rare discussion to have in a doctor’s office. It’s uncommon for a doctor or medical specialist to ask, ‘What is your reason for getting healthy?

However, there’s mounting evidence indicating that having a clear idea of where you’re going is a critical piece in healing and obtaining optimal health and well-being. The mind-body connection matters more than most people think. 

The Power of A Dream

How Your Mindset Impacts Healing

Psychologists have discovered that without a strong reason to get better, it’s difficult for an individual to take action. Consequently, a person may take longer to recover or never fully recover from what ails them. 

Setting a goal or getting clear on your dream helps you get healthy faster. It gives you  something to work toward and look forward to.

In combination with having a reason or dream, an individual needs a belief system that can propel them toward that goal or dream. They need to believe that they can achieve it. This is why many people fail when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Upon the onset of the New Year, many individuals set a goal to lose weight. They want to trim down, but they aren’t completely convinced they can, or they aren’t confident that their will power will hold out long term. Their belief system hinders them. It sets them up for failure.

And many people fail to even take steps toward achieving a dream because, on some level, they feel they don’t deserve it or aren’t worthy of it. This is where the aspects of believing in yourself and self-love come into play within the healing process. Healing isn’t simply based on physical or physiological symptoms. It’s a multi-dimensional concept with various interconnecting aspects and factors. And the mind needs to align with the healing process as well. 

Breaking Down the Scientific Proof

Various studies and reviews support this connection between healing and purpose. A 2013 scientific review suggested that a purpose in life predicts an individual’s longevity and health. While the article’s focus was on the connection between life’s purpose and emotional resilience, the authors did make reference to overall health and well-being. They further narrowed the purpose of life down to finding meaning.

Many individuals find meaning from the interactions and people in their lives. A ground-breaking Harvard study demonstrated this by following and documenting the life choices and outcomes of a cohort of students for 80 years. The researchers discovered that the strongest determinant of health and longevity is the number of close relationships one has.

Interestingly, a similar association has been explored between chronic pain patients and their support systems. When their perceived support was less, the patients reported increased pain and symptoms.

Related: Take This, NOT That – What Supplements Should I Take?

In another study from 2006, researchers explored the motivation for drug addicts to get better. They discovered that life meaning provided context for a person to successfully cope with life’s hurdles. It was further noted that physical or mental discomfort could potentially arise if  personal meaning was blocked or unfulfilled. In turn, this could hinder a person’s ability to heal and recover from addiction. In contrast, when a person had a clear life purpose or vision, their ability to heal was enhanced. They were more likely to recover from addiction and move toward their ultimate vision.

Yet, however common, people and interactions in one’s life aren’t the only things that give way to meaning and purpose. There are various other dreams and visions, such as fulfilling careers, helping others, personal accomplishments, experiences, religion, spirituality, and more. 

But how can you find a purpose? How can you create a clear vision or direction for your life?

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3 Steps to Finding Your Purpose

It starts with a dream. What do you want out of life? What does that look like? Can you envision it? What would your ideal life look like? Here are three easy steps that you can take right now to get yourself on the road to purpose and fulfillment.

Step 1: Visualize Your Dream

The following visualization exercise may help you define and create your dream or reason. Try closing your eyes. Imagine what your ideal world would look like. What kind of job do you have? Who surrounds you? What do you see? What do you smell? How do you feel? Engage as many senses as possible. This helps solidify your vision. Imagine exactly what it would be like to achieve your dream. Take it all in. 

Then, find inspiration in this dream. Inspiration creates the energy you need to perform the practices and actions necessary to achieve it. It creates vitality.

Some of the most actionable ways to find inspiration include vision boards, journaling, and affirmations.

Step 2: Set Goals

Here’s a quick look: Toxins frequently carry a positive charge. Clay particles counteract this by carrying a negative charge, specifically when combined with water. Similar to how opposite ends of a magnet are attracted to each other, so are the toxins and the clay. In this way, the clay molecules pull the toxins out from your skin. 

From this dream, you’ll want to set goals for yourself. Goals are milestones that help get you to where you want to be. Using the S.M.A.R.T. method sets you up for success. It gives you a way to measure and specify your objective.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This means that each goal you set – big and small – should include these 5 aspects. It should be specific. You should be able to measure it and be able to identify when it is achieved. The goal itself should be achievable and realistic. For instance, losing 50 pounds in a couple of weeks isn’t a realistic or achievable goal. You also want to have a timeframe. When do you plan on achieving this goal by? 

It’s further crucial to set small goals leading up to bigger goals. Small goals demonstrate small wins, promoting feelings of accomplishment, and also provide the steps to get to those big goals and dreams.

Step 3: Find Mental Exercises to Support a Positive Mindset

A positive outlook is another critical piece to success. Believing you can make a full recovery counts for more than you think. A scientific review in The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated this by analyzing various studies where patients were assigned a placebo and no treatment. Overall, the placebo significantly reduced patients’ perceived pain. Further, they noted small effects on overall treatment outcome and success.

Meditation, positive self-talk, and practicing gratitude are a few popular techniques that can change your mindset. Meditation is a proven technique that helps with mental clarity and defining your life’s path. ‌ ‌Regular meditation practice has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, increase self-awareness, decrease anxiety, and more. 

Related: The Immunological Hierarchy – How Thoughts Effect Physiology

If you’re new to meditation, try out the technique below to get started:

  1. Set a timer for 2 minutes.
  2. Find a comfortable seated position. Make sure you sit up tall with your shoulders relaxed. 
  3. Take a deep inhale through your nose, filling your chest and belly. 
  4. Exhale and count 1.
  5. Inhale again. 
  6. As you exhale, count 2.
  7. Try to continue to do this all the way up to 10, then back down to 1 again. If you lose focus or your thoughts wander, simply start back at 1. 
  8. Continue to do this for the set duration. As it gets easier, increase your meditation time.

There are further various phone apps you can use for guided or timed meditation, such as Insight Timer and Headspace. Download them or try them out. Find the best method for you and your life.

Practicing gratitude and positive self-talk are other aspects you should explore to develop a positive outlook. Start by writing down 5 things a day that you’re grateful for. A little appreciation can go a long way when it comes to developing a positive and clear mindset. A great resource to keeping things in order is the Five Minute Journal which is described as: “a structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude.”

And next time you find yourself saying “I can’t,” correct yourself. Say “I can.” Challenge your negative thoughts. It may take time to gain a new perspective, but it is entirely possible.

Empower Yourself Through the Healing Process

Uncover your reason. Use it to take action toward a healthier life. The mind is more powerful than you think. Usually, people either move toward their dream or away from their nightmare. If you have a strong enough dream, you don’t need a nightmare. But if you don’t have a strong enough dream, define your nightmare. What do you want to move away from? 

Recovery comes down to an empowered healing strategy driven by purpose. And ultimately, this determines the success of your treatment. Change your outlook and you may very well change your life. At Innovative Medicine, our clinical teams understand the importance of a holistic health and treatment plan. As such, we’ve begun to reinvent the wheel. Our team focuses on all aspects of health, including the mind, to serve our patients better and get you back to living the life you want. 

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