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  • Rachel Crawford

Healing and Mental Health

Research shows that post operative wound healing is slower in people who were very stressed pre-operatively.

This is because the body interprets stress as a possible threat to life or limb, so it releases chemicals that prepare us for fast reactions to this threat - reactions like running away from (flight) or fending off (fight) danger. But of course these days, most of us are living in cities, towns or villages in the twenty first century and our worries are less concerned with surviving a sabre tooth tiger attack and more concerned with, say, having a wisdom tooth out. Our immune system uses up lots of energy so if the body has been signalled to prepare for the worst (fight or flight mode) our body dials down the immune response in order to ensure our survival should 'the worst' occur. After all, If the body is preparing to run for our lives from a tiger, healing your gum after dental surgery is definitely low priority.

One of the factors determining the speed of wound healing is whether we are able to use our resources to regulate our emotions a little and choose our reactions to events. We do this repeatedly practicing control over our thoughts, noticing the unhelpful, stress-filled ones when they crop up and choosing to steer them in a more productive direction.

This takes practice and repetition but DOES get easier the more we do it, to a point where we rewire the brain to automatically respond in the most beneficial way for us when we meet a challenge.

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