It’s a bright sunny day. Well, it’s a sunny day. It started out bright, but now as you sneeze, cough and ache your way increasingly through the hours, the day is getting duller and duller. You make it through your work and drag yourself home. “How ya feeling, Hon?” your devoted Significant Other asks. “Awful,” you reply, “It started with just a couple of sneezes and now I’m a total mess.” “Oh, it’s probably just allergies,” he replies. You shoot him a look; “I’m sure getting a lot of sympathy from you. I feel awful.” You cough a few times for emphasis. “Well you have a great constitution. You’ll be well in no time,” he says. You dig in your heels: “No it’s not. This is gonna get worse before it gets better, I can tell.” Why he doesn’t catch on is a mystery to you.

And of course, you’re right! You do get worse over the next few days, and almost gleefully point that out to your him. Finally, after three days of this, you announce to all and sundry, “I’ve had it! Enough of this already!” and surprisingly enough, you get well very quickly.

Or not surprisingly. You see - your thoughts and your feelings result in the release of particular chemicals in your body. Your body responds to what you think and feel by getting you ready for what you tell it is about to happen: “I’m scared to death” results in one set of bodily responses, “I’m so happy to see you” in another.

Every single one of the major systems in your body – your nervous system, your hormonal system, your gastrointestinal system, your immune system, all of your bodily systems are set up to communicate with one another. Every second, a massive information exchange is occurring in your body linking all of your bodily systems and your mind. Your body and your mind are not separate. Your emotions are in fact cellular signals involved in the process of translating information into physical reality. The condition of your body and how you feel is to a large degree a direct biochemical result of what you think and what you feel.

This is why placebos work. A placebo is an inert or innocuous substance, such as a sugar pill, that is given to a patient but which has no treatment value whatsoever. People given a placebo pill often improve not because of the contents of the placebo, but because they believe the pill will heal them. Their focus switches from how ill they are, to how well the medicine will work. It is this focus on wellness that results in healing. This change in focus has successfully killed pain, lowered blood pressure, stopped excessive gastric secretions in ulcer patients, and even led to remissions of advanced malignancy in cancer patients.

So when you tell yourself how sick you are, and how you’re not going to get well before you get worse, those thoughts and feelings result in the release of chemicals which essentially inform your cells to “get worse before you get better.” And of course, when you decided, “Enough!” biochemicals were released into your bloodstream which supported this very different cellular message.

Now the good news is: you are in charge of what you think. And what you think impacts what you feel. You can choose thoughts that support positive emotions, just as you can choose thoughts that support negative emotions.

Back to your sneezing-coughing-achy self: of course you’re not going to get all Pollyanna and deny that you’re sick. You are sick! And certainly you want to follow your Dr.’s advice and take whatever herbs, medicine or treatments that work for you. In addition, you can choose thoughts that will help your body heal, rather than thoughts that hinder the healing process. Thinking, “I’m not feeling well, but I know I’m basically healthy. I’ll probably heal pretty quickly,” will support faster healing, as opposed to your usual “worse before better” routine. Thinking, “I’m not feeling well, I probably need some rest. I’ll bet if I go to bed early and take it easy the next couple of days, I’ll be just fine,” will have similar helpful results.

Work with your body by choosing thoughts and feelings that support and enhance its efforts at wellness. Anything you focus on grows. Focus on your appreciation of wellness, and your health will benefit immensely!

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., known as "Dr. Noelle" to her clients, is a respected psychologist, consultant and author. Her most recent books is "The Power of Appreciation: The Key to a Vibrant Life" (with co-author, Jeannine LeMare Calaba, Psy.D.; Beyond Words, 2003). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives with her "compassionate psychotherapy." Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at