One of the most important advances in the neuroscience of the placebo effect is that in studies so far, belief, or expectation, shifts biochemistry, causing the brain to produce what it needs to produce to deliver the result the person believes is supposed to happen.
The brain, in many ways, doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary. Take a simple example of stress. Your brain responds to a stressful situation by releasing stress hormones. But your brain also releases the stress hormones when you remember a past stressful event or even when you vividly imagine one.
Every atom in your body was made in a star! That means those that make your heart, brain cells, skin, hair, teeth, bones, even the air you breathe, plus those that compose the trees, dogs and cats, rabbits and horses, lions, tigers, and bears, Oh my!
In these strangest of times, we’re being encouraged to keep our physical distance, but let’s reduce our emotional distance. Pick up the phone, send a text, use Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype. Be there for family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, others in your community, if you can.
I remember waiting in line a coffee shop once, and a woman drove over my foot on a mobility scooter. She didn’t look back to apologise. At the time I did have a thought that a person would usually have said sorry, but I let it go because, well, you never know.
I have written a lot about side effects of kindness, that when you give you also receive. Sometimes receiving can be in the form of acts of kindness done for you, or of seemingly random blessings showing up in your life, but they also come in the form of physiological effects.