For as long as I can remember I’ve experienced numb fingers and toes. It was just part of life and I had a number of strategies to prevent the discomfort of it. However, nothing really worked until I discovered something called the Three Principles. In this article I’m going to share what I’ve seen about the role stress, anxiety and worry plays in Raynaud’s phenomenon.
THE LINK BETWEEN BUSY THINKING & RAYNAUD’S
It was a cold Spring morning and I had the windows open in my house. I was holding a pot of paint while decorating the bannisters. Suddenly I became aware of how cold my hands were.
When I looked down I realised that a few of my fingers had turned white and were numb. Nothing unusual you might think given that my introductory paragraph said that I’d experienced Raynaud’s all my life?
Well in fact it was unusual because in that moment I realised that I’d gone through an entire winter without experiencing such numbness.
Only one thing had changed. My relationship to the busy thinking I had also always experienced.
And so this blog was formed. I had never once associated my busy mind/worry/stress with Raynaud’s but now it seems so obvious.
WHAT IS RAYNAUD’S?
Before I go into the details about what I’ve discovered let’s look at what Raynaud’s is for anyone who isn’t clear.
The NHS website says:
Raynaud’s affects your blood circulation. When you’re cold, anxious or stressed, your fingers and toes may change colour.
The colour can be white, purple or red depending on whether blood is flowing or not (white when it isn’t; red when it’s returning).
Now I’m puzzled reading this, because it clearly states that anxiety or stress can cause it, yet never in my life had I been aware of that.
Or at least, I may have been aware of it but since I lived with the belief that I wasn’t anxious or stressed it clearly didn’t apply to me!
HOW CAN STRESS AFFECT CIRCULATION?
When we encounter a threat, we have a physiological reaction simply described as ‘The Fight or Flight Response’ that enables us to escape.
According to Verywell Mind, one of the physical signs of this response is:
Pale or flushed skin: Blood flow to the surface areas of the body is reduced while flow to the muscles, brain, legs, and arms is increased. Paleness or alternating between a pale and flushed face as blood rushes to the head and brain is common.4 The body’s blood clotting ability also increases to prevent excess blood loss in the event of injury.
Blood is not required in the extremities and is diverted to areas of the body that will need it to help respond to the threat.
The trouble is our brain doesn’t know the difference between a real threat and a thought-created or psychological one. The reaction is therefore triggered by thinking about something scary as well as physically encountering something scary.
INVISIBLE STRESS, ANXIETY AND WORRY
For most of my life I now see that I was living with invisible stress.
When I say invisible, I mean that I wasn’t able to see it; my body was trying to tell me through Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), headaches, food intolerances, Raynaud’s phenomenon and more.
As far as my outside world was concerned I had no reason for such stress, anxiety and worry. I had a happy home life, a good job, a lovely family.
But I lived in a different world that I created through my thoughts.
I spent most of my childhood and adult life worrying about everything. What would people think of me, what if x y or z happened, what food should I be eating. You name it, I worried about it.
But it was invisible to me because it was normal and I didn’t know any other way.
And so it was that I lived in a near constant state of ‘Fight or Flight’.
THE ROLE THOUGHT PLAYS IN STRESS, ANXIETY AND WORRY
So how on earth can thought create stress, anxiety or worry?
For most people it seems that the job or the boss or the lack of money is the thing that causes the stress anxiety or worry.
Since coming across a new phycological understanding of how the mind works, called the Three Principles, it has become clear to me that this isn’t true.
Rather than the thing outside us causing the stress anxiety or worry, we experience our world through thought, from within. It’s why the Three Principles are often referred to as the Inside Out understanding.
It’s why one person can be happy at work and one can be unhappy despite having the same boss and the same job. The only difference is the thinking they have about it.
We quite literally feel our thinking.
So when our thinking is fearful, we innocently trigger our ‘Fight or Flight’ response which if activated frequently, has consequences for our health.
And hence the connection I’ve finally made between Raynaud’s (and all my other physical conditions) and busy thinking.
SO HOW DO I CURE RAYNAUD’S?
It’s really more simple than you might imagine; you pay attention to the affect thought has on your body.
Seeing the connection between thoughts and feelings is the first step towards allowing your body to rest as it was designed to do.
When we understand the nature of thought, that it is a neutral energy that flows through us, we can decide whether we follow it or ignore it.
In my misunderstanding of thought, I believed that I had to follow every one of them (usually into some horrifying future that I’d conjured from imagination…and thus a state of fear).
Now I understand that my body is just reacting to thoughts and giving me the perfect alarm call to tell me that I’ve got caught up in imagination again.
If you want to understand more about how thought can create physical conditions like Raynaud’s then join my free 5 day online course; How To Find Inner Peace.
Alternatively book a free 30 minute 1:1 chat with me where we can explore what is possible for you with this understanding.