Stressed To The Max

part two
by Rebecca Huber

Last week week I looked at what stress is on a physiological level (how it affects your body) and what some of the more common causes are. This week I'll look at how stress affects us psychologically and emotionally.

Most of us walk around day-after-day year-after-year not knowing the cause of all the sometimes painful stress that we feel. Nor do we have any idea of what's really at the core.

Have you ever had someone tell you after something awful had happened in your life­­ a death, a loss of a relationship, illness or disability­­ that the way to get through it is to just stay busy? Okay, that can work­­ for a while­­ until the next time that something happens. Have you noticed that when you've had a major loss and you don't deal with it, it seems to take less and less to blow you off course? Pretty soon the noise in our minds is so loud we cannot seem to stop it regardless of how busy we are. Ignoring the emotional pain that goes with loss and allowing ourselves to become more and more habitually addicted to our business only serves to keep us in the loop. Bernie Siegel, MD talks about how God uses pain in our lives. He calls pain our reset button. I think he's right. We don't, will not, can't see the need for change until the pain of the situation is shouting at us!

We can blame other people, bosses, wives, husbands, children for the cause of our distress and stress, yet they are not living inside our skin. It is up to us to deal with our losses and the unsettled emotions that go with them.

Every day that we are willing to carry around our burdens from past hurts, resentment, anger or worry, we find that we have less and less energy to deal with the business of everyday life. This equates, in everyday life, to depression, fatigue and illnesses of all kinds­­ including cancer. The worst of it is that we've become so accustomed to these states that we think it's normal. It may have become the normal in this country but it's certainly not healthy.

How does one begin to unravel the deep-seeded emotions that are causing so much stress in our lives? The answers are as easy or as complex as you want to make them. Most experts in the field find that before we can begin to be comfortable once again with ourselves and who we are we must find ways to forgive ourselves and others for behavior that may not have been exactly loving. Of course, we cannot always directly confront an individual that we need to forgive. In that case, release those feelings by wishing them the best silently and with heart. The message will be received. Possibly we need to allow ourselves forgiveness. For many of us this is the harder task but absolutely necessary.

If you are really stuck, yet you know there are some much-needed and necessary changes you need to make, try journaling. If you have never journaled, don't struggle with it. Just write what you want to write but write with feeling. If it's anger you feel, express it. Whatever emotion it is you're feeling­­ sadness, depression, rage, jealously, frustration­­ allow it to come to the surface. Once released in a journal, these strong emotions will not have the same power to drain your body of its life force.

Most individuals who journal regularly can look back over their writings and find that things have improved. It may be in small increments but the improvement is there.

As we improve, we find that other measures to control our stress will become easier because we're enjoying our lives more; imagine that! We are inspired to eat right, exercise, get enough rest and take better care of our bodies. Life has become a joy and we hope it will continue for many years to come.

In the meantime, try smiling; it's a great stress buster!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Posted to Zephyr Online August 6, 1998
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