Is Emotional Stress Destroying Your Health?
All health experts agree that emotional stress is a major cause of most health problems in our society today.
There have been countless books with countless ideas of what creates emotional stress along with countless solutions to stop, prevent, and reverse the effects that emotional stress can cause. So given this premise, what have we done as a society to correct this obvious self-induced syndrome?
Apparently not much.
- We are now a society of ease and convenience, yet we work more than ever before.
- We are now a society of plenty, yet we do not have enough.
- We are now a society of supreme medical intervention, yet we are sicker than ever.
Kind-of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Oh sure, some may say we are living longer than we were a hundred years ago, but just take look at this “life extension of suffering”; the never-ending assault of pharmaceuticals along with the battle of the side-effects (or maybe we should we call it, “The war against the side-effects”?)
However isn’t it interesting how these Founding Fathers lived so long over 200 years ago…without Lipitor (and other Statins), blood pressure meds, heartburn meds, sleeping meds, anxiety meds, depression meds, etc, etc, etc….
According to conventional medicine, this should not have been possible.
Think about it!
Symptom Care of Modern Medicine
Do we really know the cause of our health problems?
- Does removing part of the gut really remove the cause or has the symptom only been temporarily removed?
- Does that antidepressant really cure depression, or is it merely a temporary illusion?
We are then scared into believing that only the western medical model of symptom relief can “save” us. Primarily due to our famous scientific method of tangibility. Of course, if you can’t prove something, it must not be.
And emotional stress only becomes tangible when it manifests into a disease.
However, it is still merely a symptom…and around and around again we go.
People do many things to reduce their levels of emotional stress such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, alternative therapies, emotional work, energy work, positive thinking/affirmations, etc…
But when asked, “Are you living the life of your dreams?” many simply just laugh! They say, “Life has gotten in the way”, “I’m making the best of it”, “I’ll get to my life after the children grow up”, “Maybe when I have more money”, “I can’t leave my job after over 20 years of service”, “What would people think if I lived my life the way I wanted to…isn’t that being selfish?”, “What about financial security, benefits, and healthcare insurance?”. And then, of course, there are these popular reasons (let’s be real and call them what they are – excuses!), “I’m afraid to try something new”, “What if I fail?”, and (my favorite) “I’m too old”.
Do any of these “reasons” sound familiar? What are your “reasons” for not living the life of your dreams, and more importantly, what are the implications for your health?
Besides the stressors we create for ourselves, there are the stressors based on societal beliefs, which we accept as our own because any deviation from what is deemed “normal and correct” induces emotional stress. So those trapped within the societal beliefs are afraid to break the barrier of the societal wall and are sadly doomed to suffer within those walls.
What a cycle!
The Trap of Societal Conditioning
From early on, we are told how to talk, how to think, how to behave, and what is expected of us regardless of whether it is our actual desire or not. If it’s not our family, then it’s our friends, our peers from work, the church, maybe it’s your political party or some other societal group. In any of these cases, good luck when your opinion differs from the group or worse, if it differs from the leader(s) of the group.
We then grow up with our ever-ready index finger poised to point at what or who we believe to have caused all our woes, and we completely deny (or bury) we are in fact the creators of our own life. Such an idea would mean that we must take responsibility for our own actions. For many, that is simply too overwhelming, while to others it is flat-out sacrilegious!
Let me ask you: Do you have to run for your life from wild beasts on a daily basis? Do you need to wake up before dawn to get an early start to hunt, trap and kill dangerous prey with your so you can feed your family?
Now, these are justifiable reasons for the flight or fight response.
Unless, of course, you are speeding down the highway at max speeds hoping to avoid the eyes of ever-watchful police or better still… when you have to catch up to that annoying person who “cut you off” and “ON purpose”! And what about all those incompetent drivers that insist on driving the speed limit? Don’t they realize that leaves you with no other option than to weave in and out of traffic just to pass them! Is this stress you feel their fault? Those selfish people; making you have emotional stress!
Emotional Stress & Disease
Emotional stress is known to all doctors, allistic (conventional) and holistic alike, as a major contributor to disease. The difference being that holistic doctors insist that their patients make the necessary lifestyle changes to alleviate or remove the stress, whereas allistic doctors believe in treating the symptoms with pharmaceuticals.
As a chiropractor, I have had many patients who desperately wanted to “feel better”, but who was also very resistant to making any real lifestyle changes, especially when it comes to taking necessary nutritional supplements. They resist preventative measures and lifestyle changes, despite the fact it would allow them to become healthy again!
“Couldn’t I just take one pill?”, “I’ll never remember to take all those pills!”, “If I take those supplements, do I still have to eat better…exercise…etc…?” But on the flip side, if the required “pills” are pharmaceutical drugs, then these are taken religiously, and without question!
The technical term for this phenomenon is called “compliance”. A person will be far more compliant if they only have to take just one pill. So of course, pharmaceutical drugs are very appealing. So much so, that we now have osteoporosis medication that only needs to be taken once a month…or once a year! Never mind those pesky side-effects! At least your busy lifestyle won’t be interrupted by having to take a few supplements every day.
Yet, despite all this, I feel this is not a “true” human characteristic.
Human beings desire to feel good (healthy), look good (healthy), have the energy (healthy), want to laugh (healthy), basically…enjoy life and all it has to offer (very healthy)!
We are under the illusion that pharmaceutical drugs are our salvation so why bother with any real prevention. After all, real prevention takes commitment. And sadly, real prevention is most often overlooked by medical professionals (and skeptics), and/or is portrayed as fraud, quackery, and pseudoscience.
Truth is, taking responsibility for one’s own health, demands changes!
So, What Can You Do to Change Your Life’s Circumstance?
To do this, you must first make the honest decision that you want to be happy – meaning, that you want to change your life’s circumstance. And, one way to change your circumstance is to change your perception of what you BELIEVE your circumstance actually is.
In the article “Power of Smile“, I lightly demonstrated how your perception can determine your reaction, thus creating your circumstance.
So now I challenge you to play a little game.
Keep track of a day’s events, as they happen, that change your mood instantly (It’s important to write it down asap because waiting allows you time to forget that initial feeling that changed your mood). Maybe keep a journal nearby so you can easily jot it down. I actually have an app downloaded to my phone. Find one that has a recorder, because you can later hear the emotion in your voice as the event was happening! (Here is a list of the best journal apps available for both Android and iPhone)
As each event occurs, be sure to be honest about your feelings (IE. Don’t be politically correct. This is for YOUR eyes and ears only!) Make sure you say exactly how you felt about what happened, and explain in detail how your mood changed, as well as, any physical changes.
Here are some possible questions to ask yourself:
- Was this event unique to only me? Or did this happen to other people as well?
Sometimes, because we internalize things that happen to us, we can perceive an event as something that was meant for only us, which then intensifies the feeling you experience. Knowing that you are not alone can significantly help you process what had occurred. IE. Employees losing their jobs, benefits, or a tragic event such as 9/11.
- Is there some unknown “force” out to get me?
Have you ever felt that bad luck seems to be following you? That everything you try to do just goes sour? Sure, we have all felt this at one time or another. Many times, this simply is just the universe trying to tell you to slow down, relax, take a vacation, and do something nice for yourself. Remember you are not really being chased by wild beasts! And interestingly, once you have had a chance to breathe and slow down, you can get a clearer picture of your so-called “bad luck”, and realize it wasn’t as awful as you thought.
- Was there something I could have done to have prevented this from happening?
Chronic stress has a way of accumulating in our head, and it is easy to perceive yourself as a victim of circumstance, rather than a contributor. So, thus the phrase, “clearing your head”, you need to do something that can help you see things more clearly like: talking a long walk in nature, doing some yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or even dancing your ass off, are all good examples of ways to stop taking your current life situation so seriously! Of course, there are times that require a certain amount of seriousness, however just like a pressure cooker, releasing the pressure of chronic stress can be the difference between dealing with situations or disaster.
- If there is nothing I could have done, why am I taking it personally?
Many people have a tendency to take on other people’s problems, and if you are a sensitive person this is especially true. We truly desire to help, to be liked, and most importantly to feel like we matter. But you have to understand, that your participation in certain events may have little effect on the outcome. It is unrealistic to think that you can control everything around you, and especially how other people may react to a given situation. Sometimes the best thing that you can do is to do nothing at all, and accept as a reality that it is not personal.
- If someone else was involved, do I know for a fact, or am I assuming, that their intention was bad?
We can be so certain that something was real, when in fact it was not. I like to ask myself the following question:
Do I know this as a fact, or is it my assumption based on circumstantial evidence (including from a third-party source)? Well, if it is based on circumstantial evidence, then what we are talking about here is a rumor isn’t it? By asking yourself the simple question, “Do I know this as a fact” can dissolve the perception of an event almost immediately.
Yes, sometimes people do have the intention to hurt us, and that is sad. However, this is not the norm. Overall, people truly want to help us and want us to do well. And though on the surface it may seem that someone’s intentions were to cause you pain, by simply talking with that person nearly always clears up the situation. And that is far better than allowing your imagination to get the better of you!
A great example of this is how you may interrupt the tone of an email, text, etc. Have you ever listened to a friend read you an email out loud? Did you notice that your friend automatically reads the email with their perceived tone of how they thought the email was written? And then later come to find out the tone was incorrectly interpreted? That’s something to think about.
Later, when you feel less heated, angry, sad, hurt, etc, revisit your comments. Take note if you still feel the same? Did you find that you may have been mistaken about what had happened, and over-reacted? If so, why did you overreact? Were your reactions based on fact or fiction (something that you made up in your head and convinced yourself that it was true?)
With practice, you will begin to notice that you do indeed have the power to change your life’s circumstance simply by changing your perception!