Stress is everywhere these days—between trying to make money, look good, drive fancy cars and paydebts, it really is a fast-paced, hectic society!
Stress isn't something we can avoid, but how we deal with it determines how it affects our health. When dealt with in an improper way, it can be damaging.
Let's say your boss at work is being totally unreasonable by setting a deadline that just cannot be met, and you just nod and say, "OK".
You know it is an impossible task but you keep your opinions to yourself because you don't want to cause a stir. Your pent-up emotions may affect the rest of your day, your evening with your family, and your night's sleep.
Your body, in this case, may be affected because your stress responses are activated for longer than necessary. This can cause mental (and physical) exhaustion and adrenal fatigue, and your digestive and immune systems functioning at a lower capacity.
Also, the negative thoughts you carry from this situation can be stored in your body cells, effecting their functioning.
Author Carolyn Myss suggests in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, that your thoughts and emotions can have an effect on your body's functions.
"Our emotions reside physically in our bodies and interact with our cells and tissues," Myss writes.
The more negative emotions you nurture (which can reside from unresolved stressful situations), the more it can adversely affect your health. Situations that you may have encountered in the past and not dealt with properly can be stored in your body cells.
This is part of the concept of body/mind connection, apparent in holistic health practices and just beginning to come into mainstream health ideology.
What is particularly interesting to me is the study of our emotions in the development of cancer and other major diseases. If you are interested in more information on this, check out When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate.
Let's go back to that stressful situation with your boss. If you deal with it right away in a healthy manner (check out the first tip below), your body cells and body functions will not be affected.
Not only will your mind be at ease but your body will be more relaxed and able to focus on maintenance, digestion, fighting a cold—whatever the necessary task may be. You are also less likely to carry negative emotions in your body cells, which is helpful in the present and future.
In the past I can recall situations where I kept my opinions and emotions to myself during a stressful situation. Doing so made me feel agitated and emotional long afterwards, and often I didn't even realize why I felt that way.
I was also a lot more susceptible to catching a cold or flu during this time because of my weakened immunity and low energy. But I have since learned some techniques to help deal with stress.
Here are some tips:
1. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, practise the "Four A's" of dealing with a stress. (Seewww.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm)
2. Stress reduction techniques can be helpful after a long and/or stressful day, to help wind down before bed (a good night's sleep always helps our ability to deal with upcoming stresses!), or if you are just feeling down.
Some examples include deep breathing, journal writing, yoga, outside exercise, meditation and painting (or other artistic endeavours).
3. Maintain healthy relationships with people who support your ideas and beliefs. When something comes up, talk to them to help clear your mind and get advice, and lend a listening ear when they need it.
4. Dietary changes that can help include: not eating protein before bed for a better night's sleep, controlling blood-sugar levels during the day to help maintain a more balanced mind and energy level, taking a good quality multi-vitamin to enhance our body's ability to handle stress, and eating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet that contains as few processed foods as possible.
Indulging in some energy work may also help to release tension of current stresses, and help deal with stresses from your past that you may not realize are affecting your health.
Modalities such as acupuncture, Reiki, medical intuitive practices, etc., may help you achieve this. You can find a listing of practitioners in the Whitehorse area by going tohttp://www.bodymindspiritdirectory.org/Canada-YukonTerritory.html.
The next time you are in a stressful situation take a deep breath, relax, and deal with it in a healthy manner. Your body will thank you for it now and in the future!
Amoree Briggs lives in the Yukon countryside with her family and has just completed her diploma in holistic nutrition.