Stress and Your Health

By Mha Atma S. Khalsa, DC

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 85 percent of diseases have an emotional element.  Ryke Geerd Hamer, M.D., former head internist in the oncology clinic at the University of Munich, Germany, has done research indicating that the most common cause of cancer, heart attacks, and many other serious illnesses is emotionally stressful events.  Renowned physician and author John Sarno, M.D. has helped numerous chronic back pain sufferers fully recover just by examining them and convincing them that they are healthy and their pain is caused by “tension myositis” which essentially means needless worrying about their condition. 

We all know, intellectually, that our mental and emotional health is closely related to our physical health and well-being.  But we tend to forget how profoundly this is true, and how important taking care of ourselves on an emotional level is to recovering more quickly from pain and illness and to staying healthy. 

Dr. Hamer and others found that conflicts involving territorial loss -- such as losing a family member, your home, or your financial stability -- cause changes in the coronary arteries of all animals -- including humans.  These changes can lead to heart attacks, which sometimes occur just after the stressful period has ended.  Many folks have the experience of going through a stressful time and, just when the stress lets up, getting sick.  I have seen many patients who developed severe back or neck pain after going through a period of emotional difficulties and stress. 

Stress is unavoidable, and stressful life events such as financial problems, the illness or loss of a family member or beloved pet, relationship difficulties, and job stress are inescapable and sometimes come upon us unexpected.  So what can we do about it?

I believe a big part of the reason that stress and stressful events can lead to pain and illness is that, during stressful periods, we tend to stop doing the things that keep us healthy and relieve stress, just when we need them the most.  We may stop exercising, eat foods that cause chemical stress instead of providing healing nourishment, stop our meditation practice, forget to take our vitamins, miss our chiropractic appointment, or get less sleep.  Some of this may be unavoidable, but we can choose to hold a fierce determination to do whatever we can whenever we can to nurture and love ourselves.  We can go out of our way to ask others for help and comfort.  We can take a walk around the block.  We can take five minutes to sit quietly and breathe deeply or to make a list of all the things in our life that we can be grateful for.  We can remember that the more we do to take care of ourselves, even when circumstances seem urgent and demanding, the better we’ll be able to meet the challenges that face us, and the sooner we’ll get back to having fun again.