It is no secret that stress has a direct impact on our health. Experiencing stress for short periods of time is normal, of course, and the body is designed to deal with it. Thousands of years ago when our ancestors went out hunting wild animals, their levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that speeds up our reactions and makes us more alert) were only high for short periods of time and soon returned to normal. But in today’s high-stress world, things are very different. When cortisol levels remain too high for too long, they can be extremely harmful to our health.
These days, the kinds of stress people deal with in their daily work and family life can cause cortisol levels to constantly skyrocket. This contributes to the development of all kinds of health problems including sleeping disorders, high blood pressure, and even cancer.
It is possible to essentially become ‘addicted’ to high cortisol levels. Once your body becomes used to its daily dose of this powerful hormone, it seeks it out constantly. The body then becomes locked into a constant survival mode and forgets how to live a quiet and relaxed lifestyle. You may even deliberately seek out stress, despite knowing it is harmful.
Millions of so-called ‘workaholics’ live like this. And yet they mostly blame their stress on circumstances rather than on themselves. If this sounds like you, you may need to rethink your approach to life. Otherwise you could be at a high risk of burning out and falling sick.
Your brain produces a variety of biologically active chemicals. Every single thought you have has a physical consequence. Extreme mental or physical stress has been scientifically proven to be immune suppressing.
The membranes surrounding the cells of our immune system contain receptors for the various neurochemicals produced by the brain. When we feel happy our brain produces neurochemicals that strengthen the immune system. But if we get seriously stressed or depressed, the brain produces different biochemicals that can weaken the immune system.
Emotional stress depletes levels of micronutrients in the body and produces toxic chemicals. This results in the body simultaneously entering states of nutrient deficiency and chemical toxicity. Together, these two problems are the main causes of disease. Stress dramatically curtails the ability of cells to produce energy. In turn, less energy reduces the body’s ability to detoxify itself and carry out its normal functions.
Many of us become needlessly stressed about daily matters over which we have no control. In doing so, all we are ultimately doing is harming ourselves. But we don’t have to live our lives like this.
In the mid-1970s, Hans Selye, MD, was the first to demonstrate that animals subjected to mental stress experienced depressed immunity, elevated blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and stomach ulcers. Since then, thousands of scientific studies have shown a direct link between stress and disease. But you can break this link. Remember that you alone are the master of your mind. You can choose what you allow yourself to think, and also what you decide to ignore.
We often equate mental stress with outward struggles: money, jobs, relationships, health, loss of loved ones, and so on. Most often, however, the health-damaging long-term form of stress comes from self-defeating beliefs and negative attitudes that we carry from our past experiences. When we allow our past fears and disappointments to rule our emotions and shape the way we experience the present, we simply end up living and reliving the same emotional trauma. Don’t fall into this trap. It is important to learn from our mistakes, but also to leave behind what has already happened.
Numerous scientific experiments have shown that attention and intention can change your physical world. Change is best achieved when you enter into a calm, meditative state and focus on what you really want. The meditative state is one in which normal thinking is suspended and you enter into the realm of pure awareness. Learning how to meditate is a useful investment in your future. While there are many good books that can teach you how to do it, ultimately it doesn’t matter which particular type of meditation you choose. To start with, even participation in yoga classes can help to calm your inner mind. Similarly, engaging in positive thoughts of love, compassion, joy, and humor will help support your immune system and improve your health.
Just as you are what you eat, you are also what you think. So if you are sick, you need to change what you eat AND what you think! As Heather’s story shows, these two factors are complementary to one another.
|Heather, 45, describes her pathway to health: “When my body was in progressive deterioration during the depths of my illness with liver failure, autoimmune syndromes, chronic fatigue and irregular heart beat, I began to realize that for survival I needed to employ not only my body, but my mind. I began quieting my mind and saying to myself over and over that I get stronger and better every minute. I kept on repeating this like a mantra every day several times and could feel strength entering my body. At first when I started, my mind fought back, telling me: that‘s a lie, you feel worse today than yesterday. I then realized my own thinking was negating my positive affirmations, so I began to reply to my mind by saying «I know that I am worse today but I am giving you an instruction!» And once I got used to giving my body instructions, my own objections began to disappear and my body began to respond. Along with a detoxifying and micronutrient enriched diet I got completely healthy within three months!”
The will to live plays an important role in achieving health. A radical change in your thoughts can bring about a radical change in your actions, and hence also in your health. And if you can’t avoid external stress from time to time, then at least choose a sport to balance it out. Running, horse riding, dancing, and tennis are all wonderful stress-relievers.
A New England Journal of Medicine study found that leisure activities such as dancing help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Dancing also significantly reduces levels of cortisol in the blood. Interestingly, therefore, many dancers describe their sport as a kind of ‘movement meditation’.
Some people choose singing, poetry, or drawing to relax and reduce stress. But whatever type of activity you choose, make sure you take proper care of your mental wellbeing. If done hand in hand with synergistic micronutrient supplementation and detoxification, your body and mind will be in perfect sync!
|“The first place we must win the victory is in our own minds… If you don’t think your body can be healed, it never will be.”
– Joel Osteen, author of ‘Your Best Life Now’