Stress Management

Control Your Stress

 

I have always been a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, and have seen the awesome effects of this philosophy demonstrated repeatedly in my life.


It is my belief that the more energy you give something by thinking about it—regardless of whether the subject is positive or negative-- the more you increase the odds of that particular event happening. Over time, whatever you focus your energy on will blossom, so be selective about what thoughts you allow into your mind.


Do not allow habitual, negative thoughts or old mental scripts to control your mind and determine your direction in life. Instead, write your own new Pure Life script, focus on the positive aspects of your life, and let your powerful mind guide your thoughts in a higher direction. 


Perhaps Gandhi said it best:

There is nothing more potent than thought. Deed follows word and word follows thought. The word is the result of a mighty thought, and where the thought is mighty and pure the result is always mighty and pure.


As a retired holistic health care practitioner and ongoing researcher of the truth about optimal health, I personally have come to believe that nothing has more power over your body than your mind. Consistent positive thinking can strengthen your immune system, reduce the negative effects of stress on your body, and considerably increase your pure energy level.


I have always found it amazing that until as recently as the sixties, many in the scientific community believed that our thoughts had no real, physical effect on our health; in essence, that the mind and body were separate entities.


Fortunately, what most of us have believed all along--that the mind, body, and soul are deeply interconnected--has now been scientifically proven and is widely accepted. Today, modern science has even coined a term (psychosomatic illness) for stress related conditions and diseases.


Continuous, overwhelming stress can be an insidious, silent killer. Stress is a leading contributor to coronary heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in America at this time, causing nearly half of all deaths in the United States. Though cardiovascular disease has traditionally affected more males than females, it is now the number one killer of females in the U.S. as well.


According to Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard Medical School professor and founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute, “Seventy to ninety percent of visits to the doctor are in the mind/body realm and are poorly served by drugs or surgery.” Nevertheless, our society’s dependence on “over the counter” and prescription drugs for psychosomatic conditions is accelerating rapidly.


Stress and Prescription Drugs


Like many others with alternative health care backgrounds, I am very alarmed by the sheer volume and presence of recent television, newspaper, and magazine advertisements seductively singing the praises of prescription drugs and recommending that you “ask your doctor if a certain drug is right for you”.


Through bombarding our collective subconscious with high budget, attractive, psychologically manipulative ads, pharmaceutical companies are becoming increasingly richer and frighteningly powerful. In some cases, our society’s stressed adults and impressionable children are being subconsciously manipulated by faceless, politically powerful, billion dollar drug companies through ads such as these.


Despite the long list of side effects, usually read in lengthy, yet reassuring, voiceovers and sometimes taking up three quarters of a page in printed ads, many people chose to believe that if a drug is approved by the F.D.A., then it must be safe.


What many people do not realize, however, is that certain dangerous side effects, sometimes including death, are not always evident in an approved drug until it has been taken by a large number of individuals in the general population over a lengthy period of time.


Throughout history, drugs that were touted upon their release as modern day miracles by the marketing experts of pharmaceutical companies have resulted in seriously harming trusting individuals who never questioned the possibility of negative side effects.

In today’s rapidly paced world, some people simply find it easier to gamble on long term, detrimental side effects from taking prescription and over the counter drugs, rather than taking time to research or ask their doctor uncomfortable questions. The truth is that every drug has side effects, even the “wonder drug” aspirin.


As we are collectively vegging out in front of the TV, trying to recharge our batteries after a hard day at work, most of us do not even think twice when we watch a television commercial telling us how easy it is to take a pill that blocks heartburn, allowing you to eat the foods that you love.


What the marketing experts neglect to tell us, however, is the fact that the symptom of heartburn is your body’s way of telling you that whatever you ate does not agree with your system and may still cause long-term detrimental side effects, in addition to possible side effects from the heartburn medication that is designed to cover up symptoms.


None of us live in a perfect world, however, and no matter how hard we may try to create a healthy lifestyle, some factors, such as genetics and environmental factors are beyond our control. In some cases, prescription or over-the-counter drugs are necessary, but far too many people use them for temporary relief of stress related symptoms and conditions without considering the long-term consequences.


Instead of adding drug-induced side effects to the list of symptoms associated with stress-related conditions, it simply makes sense to focus your energy on prevention and correction of the cause of your body’s symptoms or state of dis-ease, and pay attention to the warning signs and signals from your body’s inborn, innate intelligence.


The Physiology of Stress


One good place to begin is by understanding the physiology of stress, which can help you to deal more effectively with this widespread potential killer. Quick, shallow breathing, tense, knotted muscles (especially in the neck and back), and an increased heart rate are all signs that your body is under stress and feels threatened. Perhaps your jaw also tightens or you feel pressure in your chest or burning in your stomach.


When your body perceives a situation as being threatening, it responds with a rush of stress related chemicals, including adrenaline. When released in excessive amounts over time, adrenaline can upset your body’s delicate biochemical balance.


Prolonged, serious stress can actually deplete the adrenal glands. Another effect of stress is that more acid is secreted into the stomach, which can eventually lead to indigestion and other disturbances of the sensitive gastrointestinal system.


These responses are all part of your body’s instinctive "fight or flight" reflex. This reflex comes in handy if you are being chased by a bear in the woods, but not if you are late for an important meeting and stuck in a frustrating bumper to bumper traffic jam. 


Unfortunately, when your body is under continuous, negative stress for prolonged periods of time, your pure energy level can be drained and depleted. The rapid pace at which our complex world is changing can also cause you to develop an underlying sense of urgency and anxiety, often making normal, everyday situations feel like minor emergencies.


One of the powerful secrets to reducing the stress in your life is to learn to slow down internally and externally, in order to focus on connecting with the life force that is always there within you. This life force is the ultimate source of the powerful energy that travels throughout your body along the pathways of your autonomic nervous system, making it possible for your body to perform millions of intricate functions, far surpassing the capability of any manmade technology.


This awesome energy does not skip a beat as it pumps approximately 2,000 gallons of blood through your heart every day and keeps a steady flow of air circulating through your lungs. The amazing thing is that your body does all this naturally and automatically, without your conscious awareness of all the minute details and complicated processes.


Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid stress totally. It is an inevitable part of life. How you choose to cope with stressful situations, however, plays a great role in the overall state of your health. Even when we cannot choose the outer conditions of our lives, we can still choose how we will respond to them.


If you have not already begun implementing some of the stress prevention and reduction changes recommended on this site in your healthy lifestyle, start now.


There truly is no time like the present. If you have already integrated these changes into your daily way of life--congratulations! You are definitely on the right track.