So I’m sure that we’ve all seen the reports on the news, Internet or magazines about how one of the biggest catalysts for illness and disease in the human body is caused by stress.
I can attest to this fully because almost two years ago, my body literally started to deteriorate. I had no clue what was wrong with me, I started losing weight, my digestive system was completely off track, I was always fatigued and every day my stomach would hurt all day. I went to three different specialists, had all sorts of tests run on me, all to no avail. Everything checked out, according to my doctors and tests I was fine.
But how could that be when I felt horrible and miserable?!
For as long as I can remember I always felt stressed out. I’m not sure what exactly made me feel that way, I mean we’ve all probably had something to happen in our childhood that we carry with us, but I’m unsure of what exactly caused me to operate at high levels of stress all of the time, but I did.
I can remember feeling so weird in college when a semester would end because I didn’t have anything to stress about. Not feeling stressed out felt foreign to me!!! Sad and crazy, I know!
My parents would consistently tell me that I had problems with stress and keeping my emotions in check, but of course I was delusional and felt like I was in control over my stress levels and my emotions. However, my deteriorating health showed me otherwise.
During that time, I was in a semi-longterm relationship that I knew I wanted to end, but couldn’t, I started having feelings for an ex that I shouldn’t have, I cheated, I was approaching my last year of college, the guy that I started having feelings for didn’t want to be with me, I wasn’t eating properly, I wasn’t working out or taking care of my body, I was disconnected from God, didn’t love myself, and was participating in a lot of things that weren’t good for me.
Even though I knew all of this was going on at the time because I was living it, I was still so out of it that I couldn’t put the pieces together to understand how all of this stress could negatively impact my health.
Finally, once I was able to connect the dots, I decided to turn to one of my close friends about the biggest stressor of all, the guy that I really wanted to be with didn’t want to be with me and I cheated in the hopes of him and I being together (something I swore I would never do) and how miserable and disappointed I felt in myself, and she sent me a link to an article on the DailyLove.com entitled “Love Doesn’t Hurt.” I read this article and then practically the entire site within a week!
I’ve been on the “spiritual” bandwagon for a while! I mean I read “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle TWICE back in 2008, so I understood the concept. BUT, understanding the concepts and actually applying the concepts to my life and developing a spiritual practice are two totally different things. I wasn’t ready back then, but I knew I was ready this time.
So once I began my spiritual practice and started finding and connecting with spiritual teachers online I was able to understand the correlation between stress and health.
Ok, a bit of a long-winded prep for what you clicked on this article for…what I did to completely turn my health around and how I manage my stress!!!!
- I aired out what I was stressed out about. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your stressors out loud or with someone, I would recommend writing them down. However, if you feel comfortable enough to confide in a close and NON-JUDGEMENTAL friend then that is a wonderful option as well!
- Once you have begun the process of airing out the issues in your life that are causing you stress, honor (respect) that you aren’t superhuman and that things happen and that you’re allowed to feel stress(ed).
- Then you must forgive yourself for allowing people, circumstances and situations outside of yourself to control the quality of your life and negatively impact your health.
- Then you must specifically identify the people, circumstances and situations that are causing you stress and express what about them stresses you out.
- Next, you must identify what people, circumstances and situations you CAN cut/change out of your life virtually cold turkey! (Difficult, I know, but necessary!)
- Next, you must identify what people, circumstances and situations you CAN’T cut/change out of your life vitally cold turkey! (E.g. Your job, financial situation, long term partner, etc.)
- Once you have identified #5, you must begin the process of severing ties with these people, circumstances and situations and STICK to it once you have cut them. This is hard because we inherently don’t like hurting people’s feelings and usually we derive this type of stress which I like to call Level 1 Stress from people who just frankly aren’t that good for us. Or we allow ourselves to get away with bad behavior and things that we know we have no business doing! You always know right from wrong. So #5 is dedicated to Level 1 Stress (I.e. People, circumstances and situations that we can cut ties with without any major repercussions or consequences aside from feeling guilty or knowing that we may feel lonely behind it.)
- Once you have identified #6, you must begin the process of figuring out what you can and can’t deal with and how to best gain control over your emotions so that you’re able to stick it out in this situation if you pretty much have to. Let’s be real here, in a perfect world, we could just quit a job we don’t like and find a job we do like right away or persuade that fellow employee to quit so you never have to deal with him/her again, or that we’d be filthy stinking rich and wouldn’t need to work at all, or that the person you married and committed to loving just isn’t someone you feel that you can love like that right now. We all have those situations that can cause us stress, but we can’t just leave, quit or walk away from and you know what, that’s part of life! So in these situations I say, don’t worry about changing the person, situation or circumstance as much as you should just worry about changing yourself. Sometimes we like to think of our lack of patience or someone else just being a miserable hot mess or THEMSELVES as a Level 2 Stressor when in actuality, this is a great opportunity for you to do a work in yourself! Now, if you do have a legit Level 2 Stressor, like major money issues, my honest answer here is to be a giving person and to imagine yourself in a place of not feeling stressed about money and adjusting the areas in your life where you can control how much you spend. (I know this isn’t a simple fix, but I’ve been there, and honestly I prayed about it and applied for tons of jobs and was prepared to do whatever was necessary to financially provide for myself.) Basically in Level 2 Stressor situations control what you can control and release everything that’s outside of your control so that you aren’t adding to your stress the things that are outside of your control.
- Meditate, meditate, meditate! If you aren’t particularly spiritual or religious, the good thing is that meditation doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be either of those. Meditation, when done properly, allows you to go into a space where you can air out your stressors and begin to understand that what you are allowing to stress you out just isn’t that serious and doesn’t define who you are as a person. When I meditate, I talk to God and I share my worries and concerns and I reassure my physical body that at every point in the day I will do my best to manage my emotions and not be stressed out easily by things I can’t control and that my physical body can trust me to take care of it. When stress manifests itself physically and parts of your body start hurting or feeling weird that’s your body speaking to you and letting you know that something is off balance and that it needs to be addressed, whether it be stress-related or not.
- Understand deeply that nothing anyone does or says to you is because of you, but rather because of his/her own issues. And like most things in life, you can’t control how other people control or don’t control their issues. Understand deeply that just because something happens doesn’t mean that you have to internalize it and allow it to cause you stress and potentially be harmful to your health, whether it’s temporarily compromising your immune system or over an extended period of time causing you to have major health issues. Caroline Myss put it best, “Before you allow something to bother you, ask yourself if it’s worth killing your bodily cells over and then decide to get upset or not.”
I hope that this helps! I know nothing can be a definite fix for everyone, but this is what worked for me and really helped turn my health issues around along with lifestyle and diet changes! Sometimes when I feel myself getting stressed out, I know that I’ve allowed myself to be knocked off of my center and I immediately start meditating so that I can return to my centered-place.
Also, learn where you carry your stress so that you can readily identify the symptoms once your stress has reached an unsafe level. I carry my stress in my stomach and digestive system, so when I have stomach pains, I do whatever’s necessary to nip it in the bud so that I don’t suffer long term repercussions.
You can transcend any situation and/or relationship that isn’t good for you. Remember, your health is your wealth!! Do what’s best for you!!