Do you ever think of stress as having
It can and it does.
Stress acts as a watchdog. It alerts you that you are about to over-extend your
body's ability to handle all the work it is asked to do. You can only do so
much. Then your body should rest, both physically and emotionally.
Napoleon Hill in Master-Key to Riches says that scientists have determined that
our minds are like icebergs: 10% above the water line and 90% below. So if you
are extending the 10% above the water line, what is happening to the 90% below?
Shouldn't it have a rest and refreshing even more? We are taught that our subconscious
minds never rest. They are the caretakers of all our bodily functions. So let's
help them do their jobs more effectively.
Start with rest throughout the day. Find a quiet moment, even if it's in the
"powder room". It might be visiting with a positive person or walking away from
a negative one. Anything to break the continual band of tension.
It may surprise you, but your boss would like you to relax a bit too. Should
anything happen to you as a result of continually pushing yourself, he/she would
have to find another willing "body". Talk about stress!
So find two ways to distract yourself when you feel the tension building. That's
loss of control, so find a way to regain the control as soon as you recognize
it happening. So see the benefit of stress: a warning signal to let you know
its time to change direction, if only for a little while.
Stress And How It Affects Your Physical Body
- A Few Ideas To Enhance Your Fitness Level.
When I write these
articles, I try to determine what the reader is like. From my information
requests, you are part of a very diverse group. My intent is to "translate"
the medical terminology and world into common language. But it is also to
give some helpful, practical suggestions to make life a little more fun and
livable for anyone! However, in many of the requests, I sense an additional
but not formalized "hint".
Stress! If you are
healthy, your life moves forward the way you choose it to be. You can deal
with stress, but in an "unwell" situation, you are often at the "mercy" of a
kind-hearted person. And sometimes with that, problems appear. It affects
your decision-making abilities and your independence. In your need to "lean"
on another person, the boundaries you have set up for yourself are often
ignored. And stress always accompanies a problem. So I would like to address
a few of these "invisible"
but very real issues and make some suggestions. Hopefully, you have created
boundaries already. I hope you won't ever have to use them, but they are
ready to be defended.
Stress affects your body negatively. For that reason, you really don't want
it to "hang around" for any length of time. Many people say it's inevitable.
I don't agree. I think you can learn to behave in ways that protect your
body from long term damage.
It isn't easy or fast, but it's doable. And once you think through a few
different concepts or change your perceptions, you can move from a frozen or
paralyzed state into taking control of your future. In fact, it's really the
only way you can protect yourself, but most of us have to discover this for
And usually we do this in isolation. Start by asking yourself "how can I"
instead of just accepting your situation. Really believe you could possibly
make some changes in how life around you happens. Ways will appear. Imagine
taking a tiny risk and achieving one small new goal and then taking another
and another and winning each time. Would this not contribute to your sense
of freedom? And it would certainly lower your stress level.
Let's look at this from an anatomical viewpoint. If you feel totally
relaxed, all your body systems flow relatively evenly and perform as they
are designed to do. Your heart is relaxed and it pumps in a nice, calm
manner. It sends blood to all parts of the body carrying life-supporting
nutrients and oxygen. No strain. No stress. Now just for a second, clench
your fist as if you are angry. Or what is much more common, act as if you
are fearful! Feel how your whole hand is clenched. Now feel your entire body
in the same stiffened manner. Check yourself...body tight, hands clenched,
facial frown. Your entire body is out of its natural alignment. And you
rightfully say "so what"?
misalignment, in all parts of your body causes "dis-ease" or this
"un-relaxed state". This causes many of our degenerative conditions. These
That is why I talk
so much about stress and de-stressors. You need to be aware of your body's
ability to provide a negative or positive outcome. It doesn't happen by
chance. It happens automatically. It's a learned response as opposed to your
heart, which beats automatically. Your heart beats until you die, but the
pace at which it beats can be controlled. If we realize just how we get
these negative results by our unconscious actions, we would stop them
But you didn't
even realize you were being programmed! We simply think our stressors are
this way and no one will tell us differently. Now here is the good part...if
you know you can change the outcomes, would you do it? Of course! But you
need to be wise to the things that are helpful and those that are harmful.
It comes down to choices and they are yours. But it takes courage to follow
an unusual course of action. And being less than 100% fit, it adds another
dimension: a lack of energy and possibly motivation to defend your
Often, others feel
it is their right to tell you what to do, etc. But if it leads to
undesirable health conditions such as high blood pressure or arthritis, why
would you listen to them?
As I answer health
questions, I am quite aware of similarities that underlie the actual
questions. If you really knew you had a choice to do something different,
would you want to be sick? I doubt it very much. Because I have had to learn
to deal with similar situations myself, so I thought I would share some of
my "lessons". One of the most important factors to always keep in mind is
that you are UNIQUE. There isn't another person in the world like you.
Bearing that in mind, know that not only are you unique, but now there is
also no one who has your feelings or your exact experiences...similar: yes,
identical: no. They may be able to relate to or empathize with your results,
but they don't have all your experiences. And it's those experiences that
allow you to become who you really are. They are a very important part of
your growth as a "free" individual.
everyone else in your world is unique. Just as you have your own thoughts,
feelings, experiences, they are entitled to their own "personality". How
does this affect you? It gives you the right to make your decisions with
your knowledge. No one has the right to do that for you. Of course in some
circumstances, for a "dependent person" this wouldn't apply, but for the
vast majority it applies. So each person is allowed to be "unique". Why is
this important? You will often find someone making plans for you or
expecting you to fall in with their ideas. They mean well, but. If you are
obliged to go along without being a part of the decision, stress follows.
You might see
yourself in either of the two characters in the following example.
afternoon and you are tired. A happy, exuberant co-worker bounces in to your
office and suggests you both clean out the storage unit before you go home.
All you want to do is to clean up and go home! Imagine your inner conflict!
Or can you see
yourself more often in this example? You have just hugged the last child
goodbye and are ready to put your feet up. Your spouse comes in the door,
waves his brand new gift certificate in the air, and asks you to go the
sporting mega store "as soon as you are ready"! He needs "your advice and
good judgement". :) Now what do you do? How can you be make decisions to
suit your needs? You need to know that you are entitled to your own feelings
and decisions. We don't have slaves in North America any longer, but
sometimes I wonder. Still, there are many, many people who feel they have no
choices...they have to do whatever someone tells them. They must obey
everyone...except themselves. And there are many people who feel others
shouldn't have any choices. In some cultures, even a child has more power!
conscientious, knowledgeable decision-making process, you need to understand
the concept of "cause and effect". Along with this goes the right for you to
have boundaries. These are rules for different situations: positive and
negative ones. They are decisions you have already made that won't violate
your personal values and intentions. You will really be out of sync with
your relaxed and healthy state without them. Can you imagine how your body
reacts to being confronted with a request to clean a storage unit or go to a
warehouse store when it's the very last thing you want to do? And unless you
have a lot of confidence and courage, you will be torn between your desires
And who looses?
You do because chances are you don't want to upset anyone. If you go home,
you will be angry and very tired and upset (mostly with yourself). If you
don't help, you may feel guilty and a bit fearful of any unpleasantness that
might follow. Neither way do you win. Do this a few times, and you can
picture how stressed your body is on a fairly frequent basis.
But as you can't
say anything, it simply eats away at you silently...a good start for major
health challenges. This is "cause and effect" in real life.
So what is the
answer or part of a solution? I suggest you make some rules for yourself and
set some boundaries. It's a given that anyone will try to get around them,
but with time, confidence, and consistency, they won't succeed: you will. So
if we go back to the example of the Friday afternoon cleaning "proposal", it
could be handled by offering to help the following week when you are
prepared. Then you could allow enough time and wear proper clothing. You
still haven't turned them down flat, but you made a choice that looked after
your needs as well as their desires. You would also feel much more in
control. That would eliminate a lot of frustration. Furthermore, you would
retain the goodwill of the friend or co-worker.
that sometimes you get set up for these things just to see how far you can
be pushed. In the case of your spouse's brand new gift certificate and the
need for your expertise, you know all that will keep till the following week
at least. Maybe you could incorporate it into a small family celebration or
by all doing something together. A happier and energetic "you" would
contribute more joy than the tired wreck who needed a chance to rest its
earlier that everyone is unique...so you cannot take on the responsibility
of the other person's feelings. They have to learn to deal with those
themselves. Those are THEIR choices: with accompanying causes and the
resulting effects. They too need to set their own boundaries. It's important
to remember that those belong to them: not to you.
And once you
practice this with a bit of confidence, it's immensely freeing! And, of
course, much healthier for your body.
This is prevention at its best because it is caught right at the source!
Yes, in the short term, it will be stressful, but in the long run, it can
possibly prevent unhealthy conditions. One you practice this conscious
activity and experience practical and positive results, it will help
everyone move back to their own corners, allowing you to be yourself. And
others can be themselves. This is the classic cause and effect, and it
happens everywhere and to everyone. It took me a long time to "get it".
Once I learned how
to do this diplomatically, I felt it was time to help them apply it to their
lives. Let's talk a little more about boundaries. It's all part of the
rule-setting that goes along with conscious decision-making and taking
control. Let me give you a negative example. (Here boundaries were in place
and discussions were had, yet the cause and effect had long-lasting
happened to a friend of mine and she couldn't talk about it for a long time,
as anyone she should have been telling, would harm the "friend". I'll call
her Lori. She was and is a beautiful gal: gifted as a child and very
talented. And now she is also very beautiful to look at, and of course very
talented. When she was in her early teens, Lori and her brother were invited
out by a family friend to have a ride in his new car. She had to sit on the
console, as this was a "two-seater". Her brother was totally
distracted by the blaring stereo.
Several times Lori
felt this man's hand go up her skirt and rub her leg. She would push his
hand away and glare at him.
Eventually she was
able to get away. Her brother was a little suspicious but she didn't say
much and he didn't ask. Over the next many years leading into Lori's adult
life, this family friend continued to pursue her, in spite of all her
Eventually she was
caught in a situation where she had to enlist the help of a neighbour who
ran to protect her. My point here is that Lori had set her boundaries and
had made her wishes known very definitely. Yet persistently someone tried to
override them. She was successful, but the scars remain. And now her stress
is showing in other ways. But isn't this a very familiar story? Isn't it sad
that we have to be so watchful.
consciously choose your boundaries you don't need to announce them to
everyone. But you will feel much more powerful.
In Lori's case,
she was still a child when the first choices had to be made. And all through
her teens, she could have told someone, but she also knew her family would
be very harsh on this "friend". So in protecting him, she violated her own
boundaries. But now she needs to be reminded and rewarded for sticking
up for herself at great emotional cost. She was courageous then and she is
still that same person today. It's strange how people wake up to
acknowledging this power once someone brings it to their attention. They
need to be given personal examples and ways of expanding it, but one they
get it, they really "get it"! Once they feel consciously good about their
goals and futures, and recognize their abilities and uniqueness, its' quite
amazing to see them grow. We all have this power, but the sad part is that
we don't use it or even know it's available as a choice. This is where
recognizing your uniqueness is brought into play. Use it and wonderful
things happen. I wish this recognition for everyone!
Let me give you
another example that is a twist to "cause and effect" and decision-making or
choices. A few days ago, I listened to a talk show. A caller asked how he
could prevent his two daughters from becoming the "door mat' his wife was.
He didn't want that future for them. He told us that he and his wife had
made a decision to share all the household tasks. Both worked and she felt
overwhelmed with the load of responsibilities she had for the family and her
job. I applauded silently as this husband shared this beautiful scenario of
how they would share this workload. But here is the twist...he then added
that if he felt he didn't want to do continue this longer than the
three-month trial, he would stop! Cause and effect! I wonder if his wife had
some negotiating power AND boundaries.
Some decisions are
made silently without any thought for who else can be affected. Hopefully
this one would be negotiated.
additional experiences you have, the more they shape your personal choices.
It's those experiences that help you to grow and upgrade. As you grow, your
horizon broadens. And your confidence grows. And your body learns that life
isn't scary or to be feared. Isn't it a whole lot better to realize that the
goal posts are always changing and so are you...with positive anticipation
than to accept fear and defeat?
the long-term effects of this kind of conflict cause hypertension and other
health problems. So when you start to build in some powerful de-stressors or
protectors, it's worth going through some of the short-term stress. Welcome
your experiences, but be discerning in what you commit to. If you really
want to do it, have your rules (boundaries) ready and use them. Understand
that every action has a built-in cause and effect. And know that whatever
decisions you make, are "sanctioned" by you: not someone else. Welcome each
"growth opportunity": it will build up your confidence. Learn to let the
negatives roll off your back like the ducks do with water. At some point you
will suddenly like and welcome any tasks because you know you can do
We tend to dwell
on our failures, but if you see them as stepping stones, they loose their
fear factor. Each activity turns into an adventure. Consciously put aside
your anger, upsets, fears, resentments, etc. Let go of issues that hold you
back from feeling in control. Walk away by choice. Don't give your power or
decision-making abilities to anyone else. I dislike the word "victim" very
much. But it's a good quick word to remind you that you can choose to be one
or to act as if you are in control. Let go of your feelings of hurt or
failure. Be objective. Don't take the lack of progress as a failure. See it
as something that didn't work. But recognize that the world didn't come to
an end when you didn't achieve this goal.
It's never too
late to rebuild your power or to reclaim it. It's YOUR POWER. Go for it! A
few guarantees...I guarantee it will not be easy to follow your heart, but
it's doable. I guarantee it will take time as all good things have to
develop. I guarantee you will love the new you that comes out of the
caterpillar mode transformed into a butterfly! When should you start? Right
now. It's a choice and it's a health-reclaiming one. As you relax and feel
good about yourself and your abilities, so much hope and relaxation pours
into your mind. You will be flooded with eagerness and wisdom. So for the
very last time, feel what it is like to clench your teeth, clench your fist
and frown. Now put those away for good and enjoy the new, relaxed you! How
do you think your mind and heart and body will react to a more relaxed and
positive lifestyle? Do you agree that it will allow your body's organs to
work harmoniously and efficiently for you day and night? Make a pact with
yourself that each time you pass a mirror...any mirror, you will always say
"hello" to your best friend...right there, in front of you, smiling!
By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.
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