How Stress Can Make You Sick

Evolutionarily, your body is well designed to handle life-threatening situations. Your adrenal system knows exactly what to do if you run across a bear in the woods. Your mind might not, but your body does. Your body automatically responds with a complex series of chemical reactions that allow you to survive the danger before you … in this case, a bear.

Fortunately, most of us don’t encounter wild animals on a regular basis. But unfortunately, our body’s stress handling mechanisms still respond to most stressors with the same intense physiological response that it would to a bear. Some days, you may feel that your boss is a bear, but what your body doesn’t know is that your boss, while stress-inducing, does not pose the same physical danger to you that a real bear does.

Learning to respond appropriately to the actual type of stress you are experiencing takes skill and practice. This is where The Seven Tools of Healing come in. (Click here to read more about the Seven Tools of Healing.) 

The types of pressure modern life imposes tend to be much more chronic. We spend our time fighting traffic, meeting deadlines and surviving overly-scheduled days. If our body responds as if we were in mortal danger to these normal life events, we tax our adrenal system because our adrenal system is really designed to respond to life-threatening situations.

That’s why we need skills to deal with stress. We need useful, concrete skills that help us change our response to our environment so we can handle challenging situations like just that — as challenges instead of threats. This is what The Seven Tools of Healing do for people.

So many people have been coming into my office lately completely burned out that it is clear to me that we need a comprehensive, aggressive treatment plan for stress. Stress, especially job-related stress, is increasing every year. We need a way to transform the stress of modern life from something that is harmful to our health into something that motivates us to make positive changes.

That’s why I am offering this six-month class. In this class, you will learn how to approach life challenges as opportunities. You will learn skills that keep you connected to your body during stressful situations so you will have all the information you need to reduce the potentially harmful effects that a particular situation may have on you.

You may be wondering why I am so concerned about stress. Just look at what stress can do to your health.

Too Much Stress can:

* Steal your vitality
* Disrupt your sleep, make you tired, moody, irritable, depressed and/or anxious
* Disturb your ability to focus and concentrate—giving you the sensation of brain fog and a poor memory
* Chronically tighten your muscles, leading to headaches, backaches & jaw pain       
* Raise your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar
* Rob calcium out of your bones
* Increase your susceptibility to yeast
* Irritate your digestion, which can cause, among other things, heartburn, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis
* Depress your immune system, making you susceptible to frequent, more severe colds; sinus problems; and allergies
* Create a hormonal pattern that causes metabolic obesity — weight gain around the middle, the kind of weight you feel  you don’t deserve
* Start self-perpetuating physiological loops that can keep you feeling poorly long after the initial period of stress is over
* Reduce your ability for your skin to regenerate, thereby reducing your skin’s over all health — which, since skin is one of your major organs of elimination, can have huge long term effects on your health and give you wrinkles
* Stifle proper thyroid function
* Compromise tissue healing which can lead to joint problems and chronic pain
* Reduce your sex drive

Research has shown that most of the beliefs and perceptions that lead us into stress-inducing situations and create our subsequent ineffective responses are formed in childhood. These early, long-standing thought patterns literally wear grooves in our brains. They can change, but that change takes time and consistency. 

Books, afternoon seminars and weekend workshops on stress can give you lots of cognitive information about the mechanisms of stress and your body’s response to stress and maybe a few quick relaxation exercises, but they do nothing for the grooves in your brain. Researchers generally recommend six months of education and practice to significantly alter these early-acquired beliefs. Change your deeply held beliefs and voila! you change your experience of and response to stressful situations, even on a physical level.

That’s why I’ve designed Taming the Bear: Take the Bite out of Stress, to meet weekly for six-months. It takes this level of time and commitment to make new neurological patterns. We have to practice them. The class is designed to be experiential because it’s not enough just to intellectually learn these concepts. You have to integrate them into your body so they become second nature, just like freezing when you see a grizzly bear. To read more about the stress class click here. To read another article on how stress affects the body click here.

Again, if you have questions or want to register for the class, please call and leave me a message at 425-557-7706. Depending upon the demand, other class times may become available.