Most often, we react to stress in unhealthy ways.
This is because we do not understand it and have no knowledge of how to deal with it. We feel hopeless and believe we must just accept it as part of everyday living.
We do not have to accept this. But to make the change, we must first honestly evaluate the way we deal with stress. Though we all deal with it differently, there are a few common reactions we share. Once these are identified, we can find healthy ways to counter the stress.
Before we begin, lets categorize a few of our most common stressors. There is environmental stress which we will not deal with in this section because it requires identifying environmental sources and detoxing the body. This is a huge subject that will require a section all to itself.
There are physical causes of stress which often times will take care of themselves as we detox and we learn new ways of handling emotional stressors. In this section we will identify some of our more common emotional and physical reactions to stress.
Physical aches and pains
It is a common physical reaction to clench our jaws, fists, and other parts of the body when faced with stressful situations. This reaction can develop muscle tension, especially in our neck and shoulders, all of which can lead to unexplained physical pain throughout the body. If left unchecked, we may develop upset stomach, shortness of breath, back pain, headaches and insomnia.
When feeling stressed, it helps to pay attention to the body and how we are physically reacting. If at all possible, withdrawing from the situation, if for only a few minutes, gently stretching out the arms, twisting at the torso, and bending at the waist will stimulate blood circulation and keep blood pressure in check. Taking slow, deep breaths and exhaling while stretching also helps to calm our nerves.
While doing this, it helps to think only of the physical body and how good it feels to stretch. When returning to the situation, the body will have relaxed and the emotions will be more controlled, allowing for clearer thinking and resolution.
Just the word “exercise” brings up thoughts to me of going to a gym and doing boring repetitive movements. I have never been one to stick to an exercise routine. I much prefer working in the yard and doing things that get my blood moving and oxygenate my body without having to do specific exercises.
Stretching is great for the body. I have adopted the habit of stretching in bed before I get up in the morning and in the evening before falling asleep. In the morning, I open my eyes, breath deeply and when ready I begin stretching while laying down. There is no pressure on my neck and it’s quite enjoyable. When done stretching I plan my day and deal with any negative emotions attempting to enter my thoughts. With my body circulation flowing and my mind in a positive state, I am ready to start my day.
In the evening, I stretch in bed while clearing all negativity from my mind. This helps me to rest peacefully throughout the night.
Some of us overeat or eat unhealthy foods just trying to find comfort. This reaction will only contribute to the stress because the body needs proper nutrition to strengthen itself to fight off the physical effects of stress on the organs. This is a most difficult habit for many to overcome. We have been programmed by endless commercials and “in your face” point of sale junk food items at store checkout stands. There are fast food establishments on every street corner tempting us to buy their quick solution, toxic chemical filled, imitation food.
If we really want to enjoy living, we must start looking at food differently; as fuel for our bodies instead of comfort food. If we put dirty gas in our car engines, they will not run properly. The same is true for our bodies. We need clean nutritious food to be healthy. We must ask ourselves as we are reaching for the donuts or fast food hamburgers, how badly we want to be free of illness and pain. This is an individual commitment to ourselves that only we can make. Educating ourselves is the first step. If we know what is in the food we are eating, and more importantly, why it is there, we will be more inclined to fight for our health and the beautiful life we deserve.
Some people find it difficult to eat when stressful situations consume them. They just have no appetite. The body needs clean fuel to run on. If we do not feed our bodies the nutrition they need our immune system cannot do its job. Even if just a few bites, it is important to feed the body during times of stress but not just any food items will do. We must consider the effects of junk food and the lack of nutrition they supply and make healthier choices.
Even the most avid exercisers tend to forgo it during times of stress. Exercise is important. We need to at least stretch our muscles to keep them from atrophy and get our blood flowing. Even if we dislike exercise, it is vital to stand up and move around. Do a few stretches.
In a natural, off the grid type lifestyle, which is the way we were intended to live, we would wake when the sun rises, do our daily farming, house cleaning, working our land, feeding our animals, and various other tasks. We would not be going to our indoor gyms and lifting weights. Natural exercise provides all we need to work our muscles and get our blood circulating.
Natural exercise is just part of living. We don’t even consider it exercise so the trigger word “exercise” has no mental block on us. For those who really dislike “exercise”, and there are many of us that resist it, finding natural ways to move our bodies that we really enjoy, is simply the best way to go about it. Depression feeds on and consumes inactive bodies. The best way to ward off depression is to get active doing something we really enjoy. This takes some effort but what we have found is the positive effect feels so good, it will eventually win out over the negativity of depression. Take the first step. Take back your life.
Anger and negativity goes hand in hand. Most chronically angry people tend to be very negative in their thinking. This often is a result of childhood trauma or just being raised in a negative environment. Since we tend to find comfort in situations we can relate to, those of us who are accustomed to negative environments tend to be drawn to them.
We must recognize this in order to overcome it. Though many things that have occurred in our lives that may have harmed us are not our fault, we have a responsibility to ourselves to heal and find joy and peace for ourselves. We can not change our past, but we are responsible for our futures.
Often times therapists and self-healing gurus will instruct us to forgive those that have hurt us. This is all well and good but in the real world it is most difficult to do. It is best to concentrate on ourselves and our reactions and make changes that will perpetuate health, not negativity. Forced forgiving those that have hurt us requires us to focus on the event or the person, and not on ourselves. The result is re-living the event over and over, reinforcing the negative emotions associated with the event or person. This is why it does not work most of the time. Or if it does, it takes a very long time.
Focusing on ourselves brings us out of the past hurt and into the present. We must ask ourselves this question: “What is it we would like to experience we have been putting on the back burner?” This simple question will open up a world of possibility and put us on a road to healing. Even if the desire seems impossible or too big to accomplish, break it down into baby steps and start moving in that direction. No one can do this for us. We must make a decision to create the world we want to live in and take the steps to create this for ourselves. Part of the healing which will occur, is the natural process of forgiving those we feel have hurt us. We awake one day and the anger has subsided. It is wonderfully freeing.
“Pull yourself up by the bootstraps”; “You’re being silly”; “Just forget about it and move on”; “Why are you taking it so personally.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Crying is natures tool for cleansing our bodies of stress. To suggest we suppress this natural cleansing tool is simply irresponsible. If we need to cry, then our bodies are trying to help us heal. This should not be suppressed. It is essential to find a quiet place at the appropriate time and just let it come out. If others are uncomfortable with it, it is their issue. Comments as above, are only designed to quiet us so we do not make others uncomfortable. If we view crying for what it really is, we will not be focusing so much on the pain but more about the wonderful ability of our bodies to heal. This in itself will dispel the negativity and allow room for positive results. Crying is a great thing. Embrace it.
This is particularly difficult for men. Men are human and they need to cry. It is not necessary to do this in front of others, but if it needs to come out, then find a safe place and let it out. Stress and pain held within will make us very sick. It must come out, but in a healthy and safe environment. Crying is a cleansing tool designed for both men and women. Society teaches norms that are so against our real nature. As we explore this most fascinating subject, it should become apparent to those reading this blog, just how much we have been programmed and manipulated.
Smoking and other addictions
Stress is a major smoking trigger but continually worrying about its effects and trying every program on the market to quit, will for the most part, not render results. We must deal with the underlying issues before putting this type of guilt and pressure on ourselves. As we heal, our desire to harm our bodies with toxic intake will subside. Nature will take care of us if we allow it to. Our bodies are incredible self-healers. As the stressors are dealt with, the typical reactions will no longer hold the power they once did. We pick up these habits, or hang on to them because we are trying to kill the pain. The same can be said for excessive alcohol and drug use. Lets deal with the pain and the rest will naturally fall away.
We tend to beat ourselves up thinking we are just weak, when in reality, to endure the constant stress of life and still continue to live, proves just how strong we really are.
We have been trained from birth we must follow suit, the status quo. That we must think like everyone else or something is wrong with us. Then when we can’t be who the world says we should be, look like it says we must look, act like it says we must act, and think like it says we must think, something is wrong with us, or so we are told.
The result is that we react, and generally our reactions are harmful to ourselves. When we pull back and realize most of what we do and most of what we think is programmed into us, we can then begin to set ourselves free and allow ourselves to heal emotionally, which in turn will begin to heal our physical bodies.