Have you ever heard the phrase, men are waffles and women are spaghetti?
Growing up it seemed like anytime my parents would have a conversation about something they didn’t share the same viewpoint on it would end up coming out.
The logic is quite simple actually. Men are usually great at segmenting their life. They keep everything in its corresponding box. Work stays in the work box, family stays in the family box, and the syrup never mixes.
Women, on the other hand, are spaghetti. Every string is mixed up with the others and in life, that means that one area touches all the other ones. It’s all intertwined and tangled together. Work is never left at work and family never really goes away, on top of those their brain is also filled with all the other responsibly that comes with being an adult from the moment they get up to the moment they go to sleep.
Now, let’s think about this waffles and spaghetti concept with a little bit of whimsy. Let’s think about how that shows up in other parts of our lives, especially in our bodies.
Starting in the 1800’s John Hilton started teaching Hilton’s Law. In basic terms, it means that when you receive an injury the only other thing that could be injured is the area surrounding the injury. Think of it like this… You slip and fall on some ice in the middle of winter. You end up with a diagnosis of a herniated disc. A few weeks later you start having some heart problems.
Hilton’s law states that those two events are unrelated. Hilton viewed our bodies like waffles.
The thing most people get confused about is how outdated this information is. It’s from the 1800s, in the present day as we have so much more recent data and results.
We have yet to adjust our minds to align with the resources we have.
Contrary to Hilton’s beliefs, our bodies are a lot more like spaghetti. In our previous example, our disc herniation did, in fact, cause our heart trouble. So, what does it mean for our body as a whole? It means that anyone part of our body has the power to dramatically change our lives in one way or the other.
Today, let’s explore the ways our thoughts can impact our bodies.
I don’t know about you, but I was unaware of how powerful my thoughts actually are. Not only do our thoughts have the power to control things like our actions and our words they have a massive influence on our immune systems, our ability to sleep, our ability to maintain a healthy weight, and our ability to regulate stress.
Let’s talk about stress and our immune system.
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how stress can even get into your immune system. Well, turns out there isn’t just 1 way there are 3!
“First, sympathetic fibers descend from the brain into both primary (bone marrow and thymus) and secondary (spleen and lymph nodes) lymphoid tissues (Felten & Felten, 1994).” Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System
“Second, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, the sympathetic–adrenal–medullary axis, and the hypothalamic– pituitary–ovarian axis secrete the adrenal hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol; the pituitary hormones prolactin and growth hormone; and the brain peptides melatonin, -endorphin, and enkephalin. These substances bind to specific receptors on white blood cells and have diverse regulatory effects on their distribution and function (Ader, Felten, & Cohen, 2001).” Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System
“Third, people’s efforts to manage the demands of stressful experience sometimes lead them to engage in behaviors—such as alcohol use or changes in sleeping patterns—that also could modify immune system processes (Kiecolt-Glaser & Glaser, 1988). Thus, behavior represents a potentially important pathway linking stress with the immune system.” Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System
Wow, that was a lot of big words, let’s talk about them in normal English terms, shall we? The first way our stress enters our immune system is directly through our spinal cord and the tissues connected to it. The second way it can get into our system is through our body’s response to maintain a balanced environment, our fight or flight response, and through creating changes in the hormones our brains are producing and pumping out to the rest of our body. The last way stress can suppress our immune system is through behaviors that directly limit immune functions such as alcohol or an intense change in our sleep schedule.
If we’re moving forward on that list, next we’ll talk about how our thoughts affect our ability to sleep. While it’s no surprise our thoughts and emotions affect our sleep are you aware of just how detrimental that lack of sleep can be?
“Lack of sleep will weaken your immune system, it will also play a major role in hormonal imbalance. It will reduce melatonin levels which in turn will increase our risk of cancer. Lack of sleep will also prematurely age us by interfering with our growth hormone production. (If you didn’t know, growth hormones are what help you look and feel younger.)” The Science Behind Sleep
For simplicities sake, I’m not going to go super deep into this, but if you’re interested in reading more, you can see the whole article Dr. Seth wrote about it here.
So, our thoughts affect our immune system and our sleep but what else?
Our thoughts are also spaghetti to our skin.
Have you experienced a time when an inside emotion like embarrassment made you blush on the outside? While the connection between our thoughts/emotions and our skin can be hard to pin down it’s hard to deny as well.
About the skin, as most of you are probably aware, our skin is the largest organ on our bodies.
“It’s a protective wrapper that defends the body against injury and infection and modulates environmental influences such as ultraviolet light, heat and cold, and air pollution.” Recognizing the Mind-Skin Connection
What many people don’t understand is just how impactful the connection between our mind and our skin can be.
“One study found that surgical patients who felt less stress in the month before surgery had higher levels of IL-1 (an immune system chemical that promotes healing), less postoperative pain, and a shorter recovery. Research also suggests that chronic negative stress can disrupt the function of the skin’s permeability barrier, which normally keeps out harmful substances and prevents the loss of fluid from skin cell layers. This kind of disruption is thought to be a major factor in many skin diseases.” Recognizing the Mind-Skin Connection
The bottom line is that while it’s known that our mind affects our skin, the full effect treatment processes are still being explored.
But what does this mean for us? Our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are powerful. It’s not just stress or just anxiety. The mental battles that we’re fighting have the power to manifest tangibly in our bodies.
So how can we keep ourselves in tip-top shape? You’ll have to check back shortly and find out!