“You are not a helpless victim,” says wellness luminary Kelly Noonan Gores, author of the new book “Heal: Discover Your Unlimited Potential and Awaken the Powerful Healer Within” (Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2019). Instead, you have the power to help your body heal itself and to maintain your health. Read on for advice on how to respond to troubling symptoms and to cultivate general well-being.

If you have troubling symptoms …

Heed those warnings

First, don’t panic. Symptoms are your body’s way of communicating with you, says Gores, who also created the documentary “Heal.” Instead of going the route of traditional Western medicine and immediately trying to eradicate them, she suggests, try to uncover the underlying cause. If you merely blunt or ignore symptoms, they can eventually snowball. “Disease is a kind of wake-up call,” Gores says. “Maybe when you’re 25, the universe will tap you lightly on the shoulder. If you ignore signs, at 32, it might be a harder knock. Then, later, you might get a major diagnosis.”

Do your research

“We’ve kind of been conditioned by our society to give away our power when it comes to our health,” she says. “Since doctors go to school for about 10 years, we’ve always assumed they are smarter than us. But we need to take control of our health.” So once you receive their diagnoses, try to educate yourself as much as you can. And take their prognoses with a grain of salt. “If the doctor says there’s only a 2 to 5 percent chance that you can beat a disease, why can’t you be in that 2 to 5 percent? Don’t let anyone tell you what’s possible or not possible for your life,” she says.

Know that healing can take time

While dealing with your symptoms, remember to be patient. “Anytime you are diagnosed with a condition or get an injury, it’s a process of discovery,” Gores says. “There are multiple steps on your path.” Especially since wellness is complex and involves the mind and body, feeling better is often not instantaneous. You will likely try different strategies as you attempt to pinpoint what works.

Even if you have no nagging issues but are aiming for wellness …

Think positively

The mind-body connection is incredibly powerful, Gores says. That’s why she recommends trying to think positively for healing and general wellness. “Positive emotions release healing chemistry in your body,” she explains. “And negative emotions, like fear, rage or resentment, release stress chemistry, which we know can ultimately cause damage.”

Although thinking positively sounds simple, it can actually be quite challenging. “Most of us beat ourselves up constantly,” she says, “[thanks to] subconscious belief systems from childhood. Those programs determine the lens through which we look at life. And if they’re negative, they’re coloring our lens in a not-so-positive way.”

To counter these often negative automatic thoughts, try to reframe goals and tasks in positive terms. So instead of telling yourself that you need to go to the gym to avoid getting fat, consider a workout session an opportunity to “release endorphins and positive healing chemistry and to improve your mood.” Similarly, think of choosing beets over brownies as a way to feed your body the nutrients it needs rather than as a means of depriving yourself. “Change the conversation and treat yourself with reverence,” Gores advises.

Setting positive intentions is also helpful. For instance, if your goal is to run a marathon and start a new business, invest brainpower in pondering those possibilities. “Some people get kind of turned off by the whole ‘law of attraction’ conversation,” Gores says. “But our brains are always scanning the environment for the biggest threats and obsessing over them. So we need to take the reins of our minds and be more conscious about our thoughts because they can become reality.” That’s why Gores swears by a daily gratitude practice. She writes down what she’s grateful for (both realities and actualities she wants to manifest) to help make the latter real.

Eat well and exercise

Diet is the foundation of healing, says Gores, who recommends avoiding processed and fried foods and loading up on nutritious organic fare. You want to eat foods that are easy to digest and the highest in nutrients so your immune system can focus on doing its job, she explains. But remember you are meant to enjoy life! So as long as you eat clean 80 to 90 percent of the time, enjoy those foods you absolutely love every once in a while! Similarly, remember to exercise. “Get your body moving every day, even if it’s just starting with a 10-minute walk around the block,” she says.

Try to manage stress

Reducing stress is key, according to Gores. “When you’re under stress, your immune system and higher brain center shut down and all your energy resources go to your muscles to fight for your life,” she says. For your immune system to function at its best, try to reduce outside stressors and take up soothing daily practices, like meditation or prayer, yoga, breathwork or spending time in nature. “I put my feet in the grass, unless it’s raining or snowing,” she shares. As part of stress management, Gores also suggests trying to work through painful memories—whether through breathwork, therapy or mother modalities. “If painful memories are in your system, they can cause an energy block,” she explains. “Healing your trauma is a way to regenerate and get your energy reserves back up.”

Aim for community

Many studies have shown that loneliness and isolation are precursors to disease, says Gores, who recommends cultivating a social support system. In addition to boosting happiness and health, your community will prove indispensable in the event of a health crisis. “Just perceiving that people love you releases healing chemistry in the body,” she says.

The bottom line

“The mind-body connection is extremely powerful,” Gores says. “I want to encourage people to take their power back when it comes to their health. In doing so, remember to address mental, emotional and spiritual factors, as well as the physical ones.”

Get to Know Kelly

The first thing she does in the morning: Drinks hot water with lemon, makes a Bulletproof coffee and says thank you.

The last thing she does before going to sleep: Says thank you.

No. 1 travel tip: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Last book she read:The Conscious Parent” by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D.

Next vacation: Snowboarding in Aspen, Colorado.

Favorite podcast: “SuperSoul Conversations” with Oprah and “Under the Skin” with Russell Brand.

Music: Disney songs, especially from “Moana.” Country, hip-hop, electronic dance music.

Foods she can’t live without: Pizza and fruit.

Key strength: Empathy.

Superpower: Reading people’s minds.

How she handles stress in the moment: Takes a few deep breaths and reminds herself that everything happens for a reason and asks herself what the moment is trying to teach her.

Quick workout: Running on the treadmill.

What she would tell everyone: You can do anything as long as you believe. Belief is everything.

Photo credit: dustin humes, Unsplash; Kelly Noonan