Do you find yourself feeling sick after a stressful day at work? Well, if you engage in work activities that cause mental and emotional strain to your person, such feelings should not come to you as a surprise. Such experiences are becoming commonplace in the present world. Daily encounters and toxic work environments have made our present world a marching ground for stressed zombie-like personalities—just living for the sake of it.
Though the effects of stress are pervasive in this age, it is possible to live a life void of its shackles. But, a word of caution — get-well-quick remedies can leave their adherents worse off. On the contrary, it is quite possible to self-heal your body; with your mind.
The idea of self-healing may sound like an excerpt from some science fiction book. Hence, this article is poised to lay bare the dynamic interconnections between stress, the human mind, and health. This information will help you understand how your exposure to stress affects your mental, and as consequence, physiological health.
The compendium of facts that this article embodies are drawn from the book When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Maté. The goal of reading the entire book may end in disappointment. Don’t sweat, though; the perfect solution is at your reach. The Headway App offers a collection of book summaries, each summary being a meager fifteen minutes’ read, including this one by Mates.
Are you ready to help your body overcome the effects of the stress ubiquitous in today’s world? Keep reading.
How stress manifests and affects the human body
To prepare military personnel for the unrest peculiar to the war front, commanding officers sometimes dispatch a rookie’s team to quell a protest gone violent. Upon arrival at the protest flashpoint, the soldiers’ vitals may shoot up—heartbeat racing, tensed up muscles, sweaty palms, your vision momentarily losing focus.
Any experienced law enforcement or military personnel will understand the earlier described scenario. Many of them may acknowledge having had similar experiences. The agitation experienced by rookie law enforcement personnel is a typical example of occupational stress. There are several other ways through which creeps into our life. Gabor Maté in When the Body Says No identifies three factors as universally responsible for the manifestation of stress: uncertainty, the lack of information, and the loss of control.
However, medical professionals’ research has that your health can benefit from exposure to brief doses of stress. Conversely, exposing yourself to perpetual stress is similar to revving an automobile for several hours non-stop. You are bound to break something!
Stress and emotional instability
Whenever your body receives environmental cues that trigger stress, the first point of call is your Central Nervous System coordinated mainly by the brain. The brain releases stress hormones into the bloodstream during potentially dangerous situations. These stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline are then responsible for preparing the body for “fight or flight.”
Usually, when the perceived danger is no more, the brain messages the body parts to ease off. But when stress becomes recurrent or chronic, you may end up being unable to coordinate your emergency response system.
Some chronic stress symptoms are depression, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. These symptoms may turn out to be the first stage of a significant relapse in health. Forthwith, unchecked stress can make your emotions and, consequently, relationships fall apart.
Stress could mar your physiology
“Shame is the deepest of the ‘negative emotions,’ a feeling we will do almost anything to avoid. Unfortunately, our abiding fear of shame impairs our ability to see reality.”
Since stress directly impacts the brain, chronic stress may negatively affect human physiology. Gabor Maté discovered while writing When the Body Says No, that boxing up emotions could lead to disease conditions. For example, smokers who cannot effectively express their feelings are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
Mild stress occasionally triggers your immune system, prompting it to address infections and heal sores promptly. However, chronic stress makes the immune system weak, or the pathogens become adapted to the ever-present antibodies. In the long run, the body becomes exposed to infections. And in worse scenarios, the body starts tagging healthy cells as invaders – cancer genesis.
How can we avoid all these debilitating effects of exposure to stress? Expert researchers and health practitioners have just the answer. You’ll find their recommendations in the following section.
7 tips for counterbalancing stress to live a wholesome life
It needs no saying that the basic fitness requirements are necessary to live a healthy life. You have to maintain a network of healthy relationships. If it’s not available in the home, it would be okay to seek it in some other place. Physical exercise not only builds the muscles it also refreshes the mind. So, please make it a habit of exercising regularly. Adequate sleep is also an easy panacea for all categories of stress.
Now, to Gabor Maté’s uncommon but highly beneficial recommendations. He calls them the Seven A’s of Healing. Maté takes his audience on a journey to emotional competence by suggesting the following tips.
It is essential to understand and acknowledge your present health status’s consequent realities.
“You can’t force yourself to say no any more than you can force someone else to say no, but you can be compassionate toward yourself.”
Avoid getting adapted to stressors, particularly chronic ones. Getting used to stress makes it challenging to identify the physiological signals that the body gives before a major shutdown.
“…you can learn to recognize the danger signals fairly well if you know what to look for.”
Never internalize anger; give it expression. The anxiety of anger and similar bad energy may transmute into physiological conditions. However, you have to be mindful of expressing anger intelligently, without hurting others.
“Anger is the energy Mother Nature gives us as little kids to stand forward on our own behalf and say I matter.”
“Since the immune confusion that leads to disease reflects a failure to distinguish self from non-self, healing has to involve establishing or reclaiming the boundaries of an autonomous self.”
Boot out the belief that you’re not lovable, valuable, or needed. Like Maté said: “Seeking connection is a necessity for healing.”
Revel in the self-awareness of your “being.” Don’t try to conform; instead, help the world understand your uniqueness.
Learn to value your creative self, honor the impulse and urge of creativity. Be at one with nature.
“Health rests on three pillars: the body, the psyche, and the spiritual connection. To ignore any one of them is to invite imbalance and disease.”
Priming your body for a healthful life and cutting your medical bills are now practically achievable. Such a possibility is because Gabon Maté’s When the Body Says No is available on the Headway App as a 15 minutes summary. Forthwith, you need not go through the trouble of reading the over 300-page book. There are equally a handful of similarly rich and insightful titles on the Headway App. You could learn helpful work habits and understand DIY activities that could make you super productive and healthy. Feel free to explore the possibilities of stress- and disease-free life.