Can you guess?
Let me take you on a journey.
You wake up in the morning and immediately your mind starts working.
It could be anything from “oh man I have a LOOOOOOOOONG day!” to “UGH it’s only Tuesday!”
But your mind is there, seemingly just waiting for you to wake up, so it can restart its endless onslaught of activity.
Second by second your mind is on: narrating, berating, questioning, worrying, repeating, repeating, repeating, worrying again, and so on. It never ends. Until you lie down to go to sleep.
Oh, you expect it to willingly just stop when you go to sleep?
Have you ever heard the expression, “the second brain”?
That is usually referring to our gastrointestinal tract (aka “gut”).
We have “gut instincts” and “gut reactions” and we experience “gut-wrenching” emotions.
Hmmmm. ya think maybe our thoughts and our guts are connected?
They absolutely are!
A prime example of this is that when we get really nervous we often will feel nauseous, lose our appetite, or even experience diarrhea.
I think we’ve all experienced some sort of thought-induced GI discomfort.
How in the heck does that work?
It’s not really such a mystery.
There is a neurological connection between our central nervous system and our “second brain”, which is the enteric nervous system. They are intimately connected.
I like to think of it as an information superhighway between the brain and the gut. That information is moving fast and it is always flowing, in BOTH directions.
So, why wouldn’t your thoughts affect your gut?
Now, do you see the one thing that I’ve mentioned that affects both our sleep and our guts?
Yes, it is your thoughts!!!
I would even be so bold to say, right here and right now, that your thoughts are THE most important modifiable factor in improving gut function and sleep.
Yup, I said it.
It’s not food.
It’s not supplements.
It’s your thoughts!
I know many people may find fault with this. But that’s okay with me.
I invite you to explore this idea with an open mind.
If our thoughts affect our gut so profoundly and they certainly affect our stress levels and therefore our ability to relax and actually fall asleep, of course they are pivotal forces in both of these areas.
So, what is my suggestion?
Be mindful of your mind.
I have found monitoring my thoughts to be the most impactful way to improve every area of my life.
I wrote a few weeks ago about happiness and how to achieve it. This is a similar conversation so I invite you to read that post as well.
You do have complete control over your thoughts.
If you’re not paying attention to them, they will control you, and not the other way around.
The cool thing is that there is an easy way to monitor your thoughts without actually analyzing each and every thought. And that is to pay attention to your emotions.
Remember that your beliefs lead to your thoughts, which lead to your feelings, and then of course that leads to your actions.
Yes, you can change your beliefs, but that takes time.
In the meantime, how about changing your thoughts?
One of my favorite questions to ask myself when I am not happy with a thought is, “Is this helpful?”
I hate to break the news to you but worrying and fear are not helpful. Like not even a drop.
Another issue that happens with thoughts is that they tend to repeat themselves, over and over, over and over, and over and over again. That is definitely NOT helpful.
A wise woman told me she likes to think of those spinning thoughts like water flowing in a stream that is caught in a little whirlpool behind some rocks. Have you ever seen that in a stream or river? The water doesn’t seem to be flowing downstream anymore.
What we want is for our thoughts to be like the unencumbered flow of the water in a large river. They come, they go, they flow.
Now, if you have really juicy, great-feeling thoughts you want them to be dominant right?
But I think we can all agree we DO NOT want the negative, self-hating, depressing, sad, boring, worrying, fear-driven thoughts to pool or to keep spinning round and round relentlessly in our heads.
The more you let those bad thoughts flow away (hint, imagine them as the stream and just move the rocks so they can flow), the less power they hold over you.
Your thoughts throughout the day, will either be helping you or hurting you.
If they cause GI distress or make sleep difficult, unrestful, or broken up, well, they are hurting you.
One quick fix for this is that when you feel bad thoughts coming on, catch them early on and breath them away.
I like to take a deep breath and imagine I’m breathing in lots of love and when I exhale I’m releasing the bad thoughts or emotions.
Breath in: LOVE
Breath out: worry, fear, resistance, sadness, self-hate, beratement, etc.
(do it about 10 times)
It really works!
Make sure those breaths are deep and do it until you feel the negative thoughts and emotions releasing their grip on you.
I mean it. Your breath is an incredibly powerful, totally free, and always available tool for you to immediately change your thoughts and your feelings. How cool is that?!
In order to improve your sleep and/or your gut function, you have to address this!
Like this should be intervention #1.
Your thoughts and feelings all day WILL impact your sleep at night.
Your thoughts and feelings all day WILL impact your whole body.
I invite you to start to take charge of your health…….through your thoughts.
Thoughts have power because they translate to your emotions.
You are the only one that can improve your thoughts.
First you have to want to change. But I am tempting you with the reward of improved sleep and better health overall. What do you have to lose?
If this stuff intrigues you and you are looking for strategies about what to do next for your health or weight loss journey, please click below to set up a free strategy call with me.