Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stop Stressing. Start Living


“Worry and stress affects the circulation, the musculoskeletal system, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects heart action”- Charles W. Mayo, M.D 

      Today’s lifestyle may be described as the rat race. Stressful. Competitive. Tiring.  Always on the go.  I may be in the same boat, just like the rest of humanity.

     But I’d like to remember the time when life was a bit simpler, more relaxed. 
 
       Single man. No house bills and tuition fees to pay.  No investment decisions to make. 

     No internet blogging like this. (That time wasn’t during an ancient, pre-historic era.)

       As you know, I have 3 children.  One day I had zero.  The next day, I had 3.  

       No, I don’t have 3 wives that gave birth on the same day.  But it’s just like in a blink of an eye, I had 3 children, three energetic, highly active children (who cry and fight each other just like any children).  

     And sometimes I can’t believe I’ll be turning 37 years old this year, with my hairline receding.  (I have big problems, you see).

      Hey, don’t get me wrong.  37 years old is still young. Honestly, not too long ago, I used to think that forty was ancient. Pre-historic. Jurassic. Yet this year, I will be a mere 3 years from that age. Haha! Although when I talk to one of my patients, he calls me young doctor. He calls everyone young. That’s because he is 95 years old.

      But I wonder then.  What can we all do to deal with stress, and perhaps delay the aging process?  Is it possible to do this?

     Recently, I had a husband and wife patient.  The husband was the patient, who was complaining of several painful areas in his body. He seems to look much older than his wife of same age. After I talked to them and thoroughly examined him, I asked the husband to step out of the clinic for a while so I can talk to the wife privately.  

     I said to the wife. “Your husband is just too stressed for now.  You are giving him too much stress. The painful areas are a combination of physical and emotional stress.  What you need to do is offer him a relaxing environment.  Treat him like a king.  You know, breakfast in bed, daily massage, etc.”

      The wife nodded, thanked me and went out of the room. I overheard their conversation outside. 
 
    “Honey, what did the doctor say?  What’s wrong with me?” asked the husband.


      The wife responded “He told me you are going to die. That there is no treatment for your disease. It is hopeless!”

    Ok.  Ok. This is a joke. I heard this somewhere. =)

     But the point is, stress can really create pain in your body and will let you deteriorate and age faster.  

    Stress management is important to prevent premature aging and aching. Several studies have shown STRESS as one major factor that influences our health. 

     Not diet, not exercise, not how much we sleep. 

     So why is emotional stress one of the most significant challenges to our health? 

     First of all, stress serves an important purpose in certain situations in life. It is needed for survival in emergency situations, such as when the house is on fire, or you meet a wild lion in the streets of EDSA =). The danger is in experiencing stress on a chronic, repeated basis, just what the husband patient I described above, was experiencing.

    Our body will eventually find it difficult to defend itself against the damage that emotional stress creates over time. And this is exactly what many of us are suffering from in today’s rat race.

    So what can we do to effectively manage emotional stress in our lives and prevent them from creating significant health problems? 

     I am not really an expert on this but seeing patients with chronic pain from too much stress made me do some research about this.  The following are recommended to deal with stress.

1.      Relax and take deep breaths regularly.
     Doing so can regulate our body system. This will promote relaxation and good digestion.  Blood pressure and endocrine enzymes will be at normal levels.

2.   Exercise
      As I’ve said in previous posts, find an exercise that you like and move your body.  It's a well established fact that regular exercise is one of the best habits you can do that will help you avoid stress and stay emotionally healthy. 

     It doesn't matter what kind of exercise you do. For me, just walking and stretching may be good enough. Doing push-ups form time to time also helps me. In fact, I can do 10 push-ups easily.  One day, I wanted to impress my wife.  I tried 30 push-ups. Unfortunately, after 25, she had to carry me to bed. Hehe

      What's important is to be active and use your joints and muscles on a regular basis. 

3.   Spend some quiet time every day in prayer or meditation
       This has been proven to facilitate a relaxation response in your body that can decrease blood pressure, decrease pulse rate, and improve blood circulation. 

4. Be honest about yourself
      Know thyself is a wise saying in virtually every culture of our world. Striving to know yourself and what you are truly feeling is essential to prevent unpleasant emotions from creating emotional stress. 

      One of the methods I have learned to increase your awareness of what you are truly feeling is blogging. It’s simple: no censorship, no possibility of another set of eyes reading your thoughts, just pure flow of thoughts from your mind and heart onto your computer screen. And you don’t force anyone to read your posts. Blogging can be extremely beneficial to your emotional health. 

    And don’t take yourself so seriously, no one else does!

5. Talk to happy and positive people
     Sometimes, this is difficult, especially if your family members and close friends are always negative-thinking.  Just try to spend less time with negative people.

6. Laugh and say thank you more often
      Self-explanatory

Take Home Message
   Don't make the mistake that many health conscious people today make and fret over the percentages of carbs, protein, fat, raw food and cooked food in their diet, while neglecting the emotional stressors in life.

     Yes, eating fresh, nutritious foods, exercise and rest is good for your health. 

      But doing all of these while feeling emotionally balanced and at peace is even better. 

       Live a wonderful, stress-free life!



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