You've probably heard that stress harms your body, but do you really believe it? Most people pay lip service to the idea, but rarely act on the knowledge. Are you one of those people? Cultural messages which are often revealed in mainstream magazines, television ads, insurance hype, etc. tell us that illness is treated by medication.
You just have to find a doctor who will prescribe the right magic pill. This places us in the position of being a passive recipient of help and downplays having an active role in creating and maintaining our own health.
Sometimes I catch myself buying into this hype, but I know it is a short sighted approach to staying healthy. Don't get me wrong. Medication often relieves pain associated with an illness. But healing the CAUSE of the pain is often untouched by many medications.
Our Western "quick cure mentality" encourages us to be happy enough with just relief. But is that really the best we can do? I don't think so. I tend to seek help from non-traditional healthcare providers such as homeopaths or naturopaths who are more oriented toward finding cures.
Their holistic approach avoids the myopic view of traditional medicine and encourages us to participate fully in treatment. So I want to share my personal thoughts on the role of stress in our health. The word disease is really dis-ease (lack of ease).
When we live under chronic stress (noise, unrealistic demands, lack of sleep, all work and no play, low self-esteem, etc.) it is easy to eventually become accustomed to it and consciously tune it out. But the more we ignore how stressed we feel, the less we do to change our lifestyle. We might even believe that we're weak if we don't cope with all the stressors that are thrown our way.
Sadly, I know people who don't believe they deserve to feel healthy. These type of beliefs can eventually erode your overall physical and mental health. A major way to improve our health is to recognize and seek out such unproductive beliefs and change them to healthier beliefs.
I warn you, improvement may not be immediate, but it will eventually result in a positive long-term outcome. From all my readings, I've come to believe our bodies were created with the ability to search out illness and bring things back into a positive healthy state. That's the purpose of our amazing immune system. But our immune system is highly sensitive to our psychological state.
If we react to stressors by just tolerating them, we're likely to be telling ourselves negative mental messages (I.e. I can't stand my job; This is going to drive me crazy; I hate my body; etc.). Our thoughts will produce a negative mental internal environment which in turn, will dampen our immune system's response. This is basically the model for stresses role in illness.
Of course, other negative behavioral habits such as drinking too much, over eating, lack of exercise or sleep, also slows down our bodies ability to cope with short-term stressors.
I hope I've encouraged you to think about your active role in staying healthy. Without good health, it is difficult to enjoy the other blessings of our life.