There are many books that connect physical health to emotional and spiritual health. See Louise Hay’s, You Can Heal Your Life, Dr. Gabor Mate’s, When the Body Says No, and Dr. Lissa Rankin’s, Mind over Medicine: Scientific Proof that You Can Heal Yourself. All these books identify one of the leading causes of illness as the stress response.
It is commonly accepted that stress is connected to heart disease, depression, anxiety, and autoimmune disease. When I asked my new rheumatologist, why now, why me, what makes me different from other people who have the gene but don’t develop AS, she said doctors think it’s related to relentless stress.
In a talk about the placebo effect, Lissa Rankin states that on average, we have fifty stress responses per day, (I can attest to that!) and that people who hate their jobs or who are in toxic relationships have more like one hundred. Every time we have a stress response, our bodies’ natural self-healing abilities don’t work.
So, if life is stressful what is it that I can do to reduce my stress reaction and restart my healing processes? What do I have control over? How can I reduce stress in the face of a scary diagnosis or a worrying situation?
One thing I have control over is how I think about what happen in my life. I’m not going to pretend I don’t feel what I feel but I can confront the thoughts, which tell me I’m not worthy, I don’t deserve to be happy, I was born to be sick, and the good old standard, I’m a fraud. Where do I start?
Here are my top 10 daily stress reducers:
1) Walk outside and enjoy Nature’s wonder and abundance, even in the city!
2) Meditate, laugh and seek joy.
3) Do everything that elicits a “Hell, yes!” and do nothing that isn’t a “Hell, yes!”
4) Listen to uplifting affirming music and inspirational talks. Watch movies and shows that make you smile and laugh.
5) Surround yourself with friends especially when you get the lonelies. Reach out.
6) Tell a new story of how wonderful life is and appreciate everything in your now.
7) Counter negative thoughts with more self-soothing, nurturing thoughts.
8) Don’t pay attention to what anyone else thinks about your life. You are responsible for only your happiness.
9) When angry don’t add to it by dredging up the past. Pivot as soon as you can and choose the next forgiving thought.
10) Give up trying to control what anyone else says, does, or thinks. Changing how you think and feel is the only thing in your control.
In short, I am learning to love and accept myself and that is reducing my stress. As my stress declines, so do the symptoms of the autoimmune disease I have been diagnosed with. I have nothing to lose by reducing stress and absolutely everything to gain. How about you? How do you deal (or not deal) with the stress in your life?