Stress and Your Health Part II

Stress and Your Health Part II

by Michelle on May 20, 2011

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So yesterday we discussed the body’s physical reaction to stress and how it responds with “fight or flight” (the same reaction as fear). We finished by concluding that a person’s state of mind can influence their physical responses and possibly keep them in a state of chronic stress.

This leads into a more detailed answer to the question, “why would someone live in a way that constantly requires their body to be in “fight or flight?”. It really comes down to what Micah (the Naturopathic Practitioner who presented this information) described as a person’s “core beliefs”, which are often formed at a young age or by experiences. These beliefs impact who we are and how we view the rest of the world.

Do you believe, for example, (perhaps by influence of your parents) that you must follow rules and do everything perfectly in order to be a good person? Perhaps you believe that you must always self-sacrifice and put yourself last? Or maybe you are always on the defense because you expect others to treat you unkindly?

These are examples of core beliefs (different for everyone) and you might ask why you believe them and if you wish to continue doing so. Once we recognize our core beliefs, we can agree or disagree with them, and decide if we want to continue living by them.

A core belief that I discovered about myself after some reflection last night is that I believe that I have to be extremely busy to feel productive and thus be a worthy, valuable person. It wasn’t more than 6 months ago that I was a giant ball of stress, working full-time in a busy customer service position where it was impossible to know if a day was going to go smoothly or be disastrous.

As a result, my reaction was to sweat at work due to the stress, often times I could feel my heart racing, and of course I would notice the heavier breathing. But never once was I ever truly in physical danger. But I was essentially tricking my body into thinking that I was. This was not healthy for me, especially since it lasted for about the full 3 years of this job.

And in addition to my hectic work life, I also always managed to overbook my personal life. If I was at one place, I was already thinking about the next place I’d be racing to. I overbooked myself constantly, didn’t know how to say “no”, and at the time didn’t realize that being busy (outside of my job) was a choice. I’d schedule appointments, time with friends and family, and leave myself no free time or time to even do chores. I got burnt out.

Since I left that job, I have not been nearly as busy and stressed. But the worth and value I’ve felt recently as a person had also decreased. I now recognize this core belief, know that although I am not as busy with this health blog as I was with the job, I am still doing something truly worthy to the world, and will refuse that core belief from now on.

Unfortunately, as with my personal example above, core beliefs can keep a person in a “chronic stress” situation. So once we become aware of them, we can choose to toss them out or continue believing them. Three steps Micah mentioned for this mental healing process are below:

  1. Be mindful and aware. Purposely pay attention to yourself non-judgmentally.
  2. Go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up mentally. For example, think “whoops, I made a mistake” instead of “I’m such an idiot”.
  3. Stop feeling guilty. Micah referred to this as a useless emotion that only brings us down. How true! What does anyone stand to gain from our guilt held inside?!

For awareness step #1, we can ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What do I feel right now, in this moment?
  • What prompted me to act or react that way?
  • How do I feel when –someone- says that to me?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What could I be trying to run away from in terms of emotions?

Taking these three steps and becoming aware of why we respond to things as we do can help us change our behavior and our responses to situations.

Also, as part of the physical healing process, Micah recommended stopping the consumption of caffeine, white flour, and white sugar as these already put stress on the adrenal glands. Also, rest and hydration are important as well as specific herbs and vitamins. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi can also be healing activities.

I wanted to finish this lengthy post by leaving you with a few questions to reflect on. I certainly have more to do- I know that was not the only core belief shaping my life!

  • Does being busy almost seem like a requirement? Perhaps even like a competition between individuals of who has more to do?
  • Does being busy make you feel valuable or important?
  • What core beliefs do you believe in and do you want to continue believing in them?
  • Have you been letting core beliefs run your life?
  • What steps might you take to change any core beliefs and reactions?

Photo By: Chemtec

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