There was an interesting article in The Mail this week  -‘Why health warnings could be bad for your health’ – which started with line ‘It seems you really can worry yourself sick’. The Mail cites recent research at Kings College London who asked almost 150 participants to watch programmes about technology. Half viewed a BBC documentary highlighting, in no uncertain terms, the potential health risks of wifi signals and mobile phones, whilst the other half watched on the security of internet and mobile phone data. Both groups were then told that they were being exposed to wifi signals, which in reality they were not. Nevertheless some still developed symptoms of electromagnetic sensitivity, including agitation and anxiety, loss of concentration and tingling in their hands and feet. A number of them even felt so ill that they dropped out of the study entirely, rather than be exposed to more ‘radiation’.

Analysis revealed the symptoms were most severe among those who had been made anxious by the documentary that warned of the health risks of wireless signals. The Mail article goes on to talk about the well documented research into the beneficial health benefits of the placebo effect, and the opposite damaging impact of ‘nocebo effect’, whereby a harmless substance can create harmful effects. Documented examples include clinical trials for new drugs, in which up to a quarter of patients given dummy versions consistently report side effects associated with those warned about for patients taking the real thing. In tests on blood pressure lowering Beta Blockers, tiredness and loss of libido were just as commonly reported in participants who were given the dummy drugs as those who were given the real thing.

There is now a wealth of evidence supporting the belief that the brain does not know the difference between imagining something and actually doing it. Research shows positive visualisation, or Mental Imagery, is successful in improving performance, health and wellbeing. In his book ‘It’s the thought that counts’ pharmaceutical scientist Dr David Hamilton describes how our thoughts and feelings, ideas and beliefs, and hopes and dreams alter the condition of our bodies, and the circumstances of our lives. Dr Hamilton draws upon the latest scientific discoveries showing how molecules known as neuropeptides link our thoughts and emotions to every part of our bodies, and explains why placebos heal people in medical trials. If a person believes they are receiving real medicine – or even if they simply believe in the doctor who administers it, they will usually get better.

Several years ago I developed ‘The Big Apple Experiment’ as a simple and effective way for people to have a compelling personal experience of the impact that our emotions, thoughts and intentions can have on the rate of decay of an apple. All you need to do to carry out this simple experiment in your own home is to cut an apple in half, put one half in a sealed jar labelled ‘Love’, and the other half in a Jar labelled ‘Hate’. For the next week or two, regularly pick up the hate jar, and download all of your negative emotions into that apple. Focus all of your anger, frustration, worries and fears into that Hate Apple, and really feel it. At other times, and just as regularly, pick up the Love Apple Jar and say loving, supportive, positive, encouraging things to this apple. Involve the family, or if you’re doing this experiment at work, get the whole office involved!

The feedback we receive suggests that approximately 75 – 80% of people who carry out The Big Apple Experiment report a significant difference in the rate of decay in their Love and Hate Apples. Over the last few years individuals from hundreds of organisations that we have worked with have carried out these experiments and the vast majority will have ended up asking themselves the question;

If our negative words, thoughts and emotions can create this level of damage in an apple, what damage are we doing to ourselves, and to those people that we care about most?

“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen.

Keep in the sunlight.”

Benjamin Franklin