The Seven Secrets to Stress Relief
By Joyce Dolberg Rowe M.Ed., LMHC
What is stress? It is certainly a word that we toss around a lot and loosely. When was the last time you were “stressed out”? Was it work related? Family? Financial? Relationship? What happens to your body when you are stressed out? How do we find stress relief?
Most of us have heard the expression that “all disease is stress related”, but what does that really mean? The changes that take place in our bodies are certainly real. Our diagnosis is real. So, how does ‘stress’ contribute to DIS-EASE in the body…DIS-COMFORT?
Ponder this: if we do not listen to our thoughts and feelings, then our issues will haunt us in our dreams. If we continue to ignore the messages that our dreams are attempting to deliver, these ‘issues’ are likely to SOMATIZE. In other words, we develop physical symptoms. Which ones, where, who? We all have inherited from our families a weakness in some organ or system in our body that seems to take the brunt of our stress. Under prolonged stress you may develop malaise or a malfunction. It might be a migraine headache, asthma, colitis, skin problems like psoriasis, heart/ circulatory, nervous system problems such as anxiety, depression or much worse, and even some cancers. Learning to find stress relief is vitally important to your health.
This is the way it works: if you are stressed out, your body is not able to produce the necessary hormones and endorphins you need to keep your immune system working efficiently and effectively to keep you well. The germs are always there. It is about your body’s ability at any given time to fight them off.
Our immune system protects us from dis-ease; however when the body is subject to lingering stress, our ability to ward off infection is compromised. Because stress causes the body to release a hormone called ACTH, which in turn stimulates the adrenals to release another hormone called cortisol, our body is so busy trying to lower the pressure that it cannot ward off the invasion of the germs.
When your adrenal system, is working overtime pumping cortisol…even while you try to sleep, it will inhibit the production of the ‘healing’ endorphins and ‘beauty rest’ you need for good health. The result is that the YOU become run down, exhausted and susceptible to attack by germs.
You are on the fast track, it’s a rush, your heart is pounding, and you are overwhelmed, over-committed and on the go: are you having fun yet??? Sometimes we think that it is fun to be in hyper drive, but is it really? Isn’t it curious that many people tend to get sick after final exams or too much partying, an all-nighter, or a difficult situation that has evoked anxiety and/or sleeplessness? You may feel yourself fighting a cold, but really, the ‘germ of the day’ catches you.
What about the person who is living with a virus that attacks the immune system such as HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, cancer, or other immune system disorders like chronic fatigue and others? It is essential to keep in mind that if under the best conditions, chances of becoming ill are exacerbated due to stress; these people must take this reality seriously.
With this understanding of how the immune system is weakened and made more vulnerable when we allow the pressure to build, or take on too much, or do not ‘deal with our stuff’ at the thought level, we can now make better decisions about our health.