Thursday, November 10, 2016

Find Health In The Midst of Stress

Stress is one of the largest contributors to every modern chronic disease condition we experience today.  It would be utopia if we could just erase all the sources of stress in our lives by willing it away.  I can only hope that there are one or two Buddhist monks somewhere in Tibet who can successfully pull that off... it would give me hope that my efforts at that might succeed someday.   The surprising election of Donald Trump this week has, for at least the one-quarter of voters who voted against him, set off near-hysteric levels of stress; not to downplay the legitimately worried fears of ethnic minority's, immigrants, Muslims, et al.  

Holding onto high stress does devastating things to our health including: reducing our brain size, lowering our IQ, raising our risk for cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and dementia/Alzheimer's, lowering immunity, increasing inflammation, creating heart disease -- just to name a few.  In short, to stress you out more, stress kills.  So how do we find a healthy path around stress when it is so relentless in finding us?

In this modern age there are an incredible number of stress factors in our lives.  A large number of them invisible to us; a number of these factors also fully under our control.  Stressors are cumulative, meaning that the more we can eliminate or restrict, the lower our level and the lighter the impact stress will have.

I want to lift up some of these "invisible" stresses, which may be way more controllable than your over-the-top boss may be.

Invisible Stresses:

  • Sugar consumption
  • Gluten
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Toxic friends
  • Lack of exercise
  • Too much social media
  • Television late at night
  • Procrastination
  • Worry
  • Participation in gossip, criticism of others
  • Ruminating on negative comments/events
  • Allowing yourself to rehearse difficult/mean/ugly conversations
  • Imagining the worst

You notice that most of the items in the last half of the list have to do with your thinking.  Many of us tend to treat our brains & thought processes as powers unto themselves; that we're just helpless victims of a "brain out of control."  We surrender to a mistaken belief that our thoughts have the power to create reality and we're powerless to change it.  The fact is that run-away thinking is  something we've learned and we train ourselves to do through repetition, in the very same way we learn a language or a musical instrument.  To eliminate the stresses in the last part of the list, we need to take charge of what we mentally practice; show our brain who is boss.  Do not allow yourself to get pulled into the rehearsal hall.  Smack yourself.  Say, "No. I'm not going there.  I'm going here instead."  Rehearse the opposite thoughts, with as ridiculously positive of a spin on it as you've taught yourself to put negative spin on it.  Or, actively do something to side track your usual pattern: Go for a run.  Shoot some baskets.  Go to a movie.  

Negative thinking is an addictive habit.  Like all addictions, it destroys your health from the inside out, creates needless misery and stress, and never brings sunshine and light to your being.  So start today, this minute even, with retraining your brain to be your friend rather than your enemy.  The stress you reduce in doing it will improve your health and longevity.


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