A dear friend of mine, Bill was diagnosed several years ago with terminal prostate cancer. The tumor was so large, the upper portion protruded into his abdominal cavity. His doctor recommended immediate surgery and chemotherapy. Bill asked the doctor if he could wait a few weeks, because he felt within himself that he had a lot of emotional healing to do, before subjecting his body to the rigors of the recommended treatment.
He asked his five adult children who lived across the US to come home and share a weekend with he and his wife. The experience was remarkable for all involved, as many deep and unresolved family wounds were healed.
A week or so later, Bill returned to see his doctor, with a simple request, to re-evalute his body before scheduling his surgery. His doctor attempted to convince him that additional tests weren’t necessary, but Bill insisted. And his doctor gave in. Much to the doctor’s surprise, Bills’ scans couldn’t find the tumor, that had only a few weeks earlier had threatened his life!
Most people don’t think that they do, because they tend to focus on outside resources as the source of their health, such as medications, doctors, chiropractors, nurses, therapists, etc. When in fact they overlook the greatest resource they have-that lie within.
One of the key ingredients a self-healing person has is the ability to cope with stress in a very healthy way.
We all experience stress in our daily life. It is also quite common to have been prescribed a tranquilizer, to help you cope with stress. Juggling between a load of tasks and things to worry about has become a daily routine in all our lives. But amidst this stressful life that you’re living, did you ever stop to think how you need to take better care of yourself? Did you ever stop to think about taking charge? Have you ever tried to de-stress?
Stress is not always a bad thing! Stress is a natural reaction- a little of bit of stress is what keeps us going. This type of “acute” or “good” stress is what brings out the best in us in a project, or when faced with a deadline or challenge. It is also what helps us get through emergencies. However, how we perceive and respond to stress is the key to taking control. It can be the difference between maintaining our health and developing a stress related disease. More than 80 per cent of all doctor visits are stress related. When we are exposed to prolonged or undefined stress, or when several sources co-exist, it is much harder for us to recover and return to our normal state.
Our bodies created a response to life threatening situations. Fear triggers an immediate surge of hormones that prepares the body to run or fight. On the short term basis, that is an excellent, protective mechanism from which the body recovers. However, dealing with stress on a continuous basis, in a way that constantly causes the release of these stress hormones, can lead to depletion of our adrenal glands. Negative emotions actually trigger a cascade of physiological responses, including the release of norepinephrine, (noradrenalin), a chemical messenger known to suppress immune function. Also, the excessive release of stress hormones such as cortisol impacts the immune system by depressing the production of antibodies and messing up how our bodies function.
Chronic distress is known to cause high blood pressure and heart problems. It is also common to experience migraines, back pain and much more. As you can see, negative stress renders the body more susceptible to a variety of diseases physical and/or psychological problems. Unfortunately, some people repress their emotions. Others try to relieve their stress by smoking, or even taking illicit drugs. These responses are at best temporary diversions and provide a brief sense of relief and it leaves the person worse off than they were initially.
How do we start reacting positively toward stress? The answer is to learning how to view your stressful situation in a different way. One that allows you to face the challenge, without essentially feeling controlled, defeated or doomed by it. While most people believe they have no choice when dealing with the stresses that occur in our daily lives, both large and small, expected and unexpected, the fact remains that we do.
Perception Change: I learned how to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, and placed what seemed to be overwhelming into a broader perspective, which minimized its importance and meaning.
- Is this situation that important?
- Will it be as upsetting as it is to me today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?
- What similar situations have I faced and lived through?
- How do I feel about those now?
- Can I feel the same way about this one?
Affirmations: Another effective and valuable technique I’ve learned is using affirmations. Believe it or now, it is a powerful way to relax and overcome stress
Some of my favorite ones are:
- This too shall pass
- All things are possible.
- I rise above this situation now, and move forward
- Nothing can change my peace of mind—even this situation
- I am in charge of the way I feel right now. Nothing outside of me can change my peace of mind, unless I allow it to do so.
Deep Breathing: Did you know that taking a deep breath can actually change your body’s physiology and relax it?
Take a few deep breaths, the next time you feel stressed
Everyone needs to alter their perception and response to stress. By developing the characteristics that is self-healing. To lead a healthy productive life, we all must learn to deal with our negative emotions and stream them into a more positive and constructive outlook at life. A positive outlook at life starts by taking a deeper look within.
Stress affects us differently. Our unique personalities, genes and situations are all factors that help shape the way we deal with stress. Most importantly, how we choose to respond, rather than reacting as if we don’t have a choice to stressful situations is the key to distressing.
1.Identifying the source of stress is necessary to ensure that you are looking at things in a healthy positive way. Sometimes it’s not so easy to simply point a finger at the source of stress, but it’s a must to dig deep down inside.
2.Keeping a journal to write about your feelings, regarding the stressful events you encounter and your daily responsibilities will help you zoom into what is stressing you out. It will allow you to recognize and reflect on what is stressing you out, and realize any changes occurring in your life.
3.Time management, setting limits for yourself, sharing your thoughts, and realizing you need time off are necessary in our lives.
4.Thinking positively is key. A healthy outlook is a positive outlook that accepts change as a part of life. It takes time and patience to increase our self-awareness and focus our self-healing powers. But the belief that we can heal will get us there. Stressful times may cause depressed immunity, but self-healing personalities will bounce back. When we believe that we can heal we help activate the mechanisms that foster immunity and healing on every level.
To de-stress yourself, sustain well-being and a strong immune system, one must accept being in the world and honestly express one’s feelings. Try to know what’s stressing you out – try to have a little alarm go off inside you to warn you when you start getting those signs of stress.
5.Take up daily practices that build emotional strength, supercharge your immune system, and take better care of yourself. Try meditation, positive affirmation, relaxed deep breathing and other techniques that help you to relax. And do not forget to take the time to understand and express yourself.
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To Your Good Health,
Elaine R. Ferguson, MD