June 2015 Newsletter
Stress kills. We’ve all heard it a million times, but do we fully understand what that means? Similar to smoking or excessive drinking, it’s a slow death over many years so we may not fully grasp that it is indeed killing us from the inside out by destroying our immune system. First it may start with some tension in the neck and shoulders that just keeps happening more often now. Massages and adjustments help but pretty soon they’re not enough and now you’re taking Advil and Tylenol almost daily. Then you go to the doctor and your blood pressure is a little high, so now you’re taking a blood pressure pill. Then before you know it, your blood sugar and cholesterol are slightly higher than they should be and now you’re taking something for those. Months go by and you’re even more stressed out now because you’re stressed out about being so stressed out and so now you’re taking an anti-depressant! When does it end? Unfortunately for many people it ends with either a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. I don’t need to tell you how stressful life has become and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is just the beginning of the craziness! So what can we do about it before it gets to that level?
I heard a survey once where people were asked what they thought would happen to them if they suddenly found themselves on a deserted island and were unable to take their blood pressure medicine. The vast majority answered that they wouldn’t need their medication anymore and that they would actually be healthier because they wouldn’t have anymore stress in their lives. Not that they would have a heart attack or a stroke without their medication, but that they would be better! In fact, one of my patients said those exact words to me the other day without any prompting from me, she just wanted to go find a desert island somewhere and leave all her stress behind! So we all need to just go find a deserted island somewhere and all will be well! If only it were that simple.
So how do we bring that beautiful island into our lives without physically going there and without getting fired for daydreaming about it all day? We’ve all heard some things to do such as yoga, meditate, take a pill (natural or prescription), drink chamomile tea, massages, chiropractic, acupuncture etc., etc. And these things do help so by all means do all or some of them, but what do they all have in common? I believe they all help us to quiet the mind without all the chatter and noise of the “outside world” and also without all that chatter and noise from our “inside world.” You know the place, the one that keeps reminding us of all the things we have to do and all the things we should be doing, when all we want to do is nothing, just be, even if it’s for just a few minutes. Instead we need to find that quiet place within us, the one we know is truly “us.” That place within us that “knows” right from wrong, justice from injustice and truth from lies. Some people call it our conscience, some call it our higher self and some even call it God. But no matter what you to call it, it’s still the same place, our own private tropical island, and it’s free and available 24/7/365! Just finding that place within us is hard enough, so how can we be there all the time so that we can handle the stress of everyday life? I’d like to tell you that it’s easy and simple to do and that all you need to do is this or that, but it’s not simple and it’s not easy, it’s actually quite difficult. But it is possible, it just takes a lot of practice and determination, everyday, all day. But before you throw in the towel just yet, try it. Take a few minutes each day to just try to quiet the mind and look for that place inside. As you do it more often it will get easier to do. Being outside in nature can definitely help the process. So when you feel the stress starting to build up, stop for a second and try to find that place, go to that deserted island, even if it’s just for a few seconds, it will help to get you refocused and settled down.
We just need to make the time to get out in nature and just “be” for even just a few minutes a day. We all have a chance everyday to do it but typically we’re “too busy to stop and smell the roses.” But I believe that simple act of taking time each day to simply “be” and not “do” will make a huge difference with keeping our stress levels down to a manageable level. We just have to make it a priority and get off the “rollercoaster of life” every so often before we’re forced off of it by an illness or severe back pain or worse.
We could also start to use our imaginations more creatively to re-visualize our lives, one that’s less stressful and hectic than it is now. And one of the easiest ways to do that and a good place to start is by simplifying our lives and getting de-cluttered. We all know a few things we could do right now to make our lives less stressful and more simple without having to really think too hard, but for one reason or another we put them off or bury them deep within us hoping they will just go away. But they don’t, in fact they keep showing up to torment us until finally we deal with it or it deals with us. All those things we know we “should” do or “could” do if only we had the time or energy to do them. But I believe there comes a time when we have to say enough is enough or we’re going to be seriously sick, or even worse, dead. Day in and day out I see people in my practice stressed out beyond belief and getting sicker and sicker by the week. Crisis after crisis hits them, perhaps they got laid off and can’t find work or perhaps they didn’t get laid off and are now doing the work of all the people that did get laid off and are constantly being told they’re lucky to have a job so be quiet and stop complaining. And it’s not until they finally say enough is enough, that anything meaningful changes. Sometimes people get it before something happens, but many times they don’t and it takes a near fatal heart attack, emotional breakdown or severe back pain to finally wake them up and say enough. Enough of running myself into the ground, enough of always feeling tired, enough of always being sick, enough of always being in pain, enough of always feeling rushed, enough of taking care of everyone but me, ENOUGH! So it would obviously help to try to take control back of our lives and our health and say enough before we get that big wakeup call.
So take a few moments today, and everyday for that matter, and go out in nature and just be, just daydream, use your imagination to co-create a new world for yourself and your family. Start today to find ways to reduce your stress levels and simplify your lives, whether that means perceiving things differently so they’re not as stressful, or extricating yourself from overly stressful situations, do something, anything to start before it’s too late. As they say, life’s too short and getting shorter by the moment, so get out there and make life fun again, or at least manageable, and go find that desert island within you. I promise it’s still in there just waiting to be found again. And remember, both of these gifts, nature and your imagination, are free and available 24/7/365. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
In good health,