We all know what it’s like. That unfair, unwanted situation just as things are looking better. A family member treats you badly, the loss of a loved one, the pain of divorce or a lingering sickness all take their toll on your emotions. Life has a way of throwing a ‘curve ball’ sometimes. I constantly receive calls from people who tell me about their pain and the very day it started. You see, the body has a way of coping with sudden, strong emotions and depending on the strength of the emotion felt, the after effects may take a while to go away. Much of what we call sickness is simply the lingering after effects of that stressful situation you endured. Learning to recognise what may be the result of that major event and how you come out of it is critical. In a recent book by Dr. Don Colbert M.D titled, ‘Deadly Emotions’, he says on the cover page, “You can overcome the deadly emotions that could trigger the disease process,” and then states that:
– Anger and Hostility – are connected to hypertension and coronary artery disease.
– Resentment, Bitterness, Unforgiveness and Self Hatred – are connected to autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
– Anxiety – is connected to irritable bowel syndrome, panic attacks, mitral valve prolapse, and heart palpitations.
– Repressed Anger – is connected to tension and migraine headaches, chronic back pain, TMJ, and fibromyalgia.
He goes on in the text of the book to quote Dr. Candace Pert, a stress-research pioneer, who said, “In the beginning of my work, I matter-of-factly presumed that emotions were in the head or the brain. Now I would say they are really in the body.” No person experiences an emotion just in his “heart” or in his “mind.” Rather, a person experiences an emotion in the form of chemical reactions in the body and the brain. These chemical reactions occur at both the organ level – stomach, heart, large muscles, and so forth – and at the cellular level. He then lists the results of a number of scientific studies linking the emotions and disease, and I will only mention 3 of the 6 studies from which he quoted:
A Harvard Medical School study of 1,623 heart-attack survivors concluded that anger brought on by emotional conflicts doubled the risk of subsequent heart attacks compared to those who remained calm.
A heart disease study at the Mayo Clinic found that psychological stress was the strongest predictor of future cardiac events, including cardiac death, cardiac arrest, and heart attack.
In a ten-year study, individuals who could not manage their emotional stress had a 40 percent higher death rate than non-stressed individuals.
Dr. Francisco Contreras, who is the director of a cancer hospital, was quoted in Charisma magazine as follows: “More than 80 percent of my patients experienced a traumatic event within three years of their cancer being diagnosed. Topping the list were: (1) the death of a child (2) a divorce (3) a job layoff.
This is some serious stuff! Over the coming months I will examine some of these issues and delve deeper into the world of toxic emotions. What I want to stress here is that you must try to not feel like a victim. Stress and life simply happen. What to do with it is the key here. My own journey has taught me that one of the most powerful forces in the universe is forgiveness. Sure, easier said than done, I know. Some people even find it hard to forgive themselves. I am often told how people can forgive almost anything done to them by others except when it comes by way of a loved one. Here is where some of the most chronic case of stress related illness occurs. The old saying applies here “The devil uses those who are close to you.”
I want to be a source of life and encouragement to you. Don’t give up! Keep on going, you have value and worth. Guard your heart, not harden it. Always be willing to give someone another chance but learn from your mistakes if there were any. If you were an innocent victim and feel the whole world is our to get you, don’t. There are people out there who love and care about you even if you don’t know it. What you need to look out for is allowing that stress to swallow you up. The key here is to deal with what happened as soon as possible. Do not make the mistake of sweeping it under the carpet saying to yourself , “I’ll deal with it later”. Those hidden and toxic emotions can surface years later in a variety of chronic conditions if you are not careful. I try to think about what I do have rather than what I don’t.
I once heard of a patient who was laid out with a rare condition who could not move her hands to scratch herself if she had an itch. She would wait for hours at a time just for a nurse to come in to scratch that unrelenting itch. When it came feeding time, she wished she could move her arms to simply eat food. When interviewed, she reflected on how much in the past she took for granted she had working arms. The point here is to find something to be grateful for, no matter how small an insignificant. Research has shown that gratefulness and thankfulness has a marked ability to lower cortisol ( a major stress hormone ), as does Prayer. So how do you manage right after a huge stressful event occurs? Here are some tips to put into action as soon as you can.
1. Breathe – Take a deep breath and remain calm as best as possible. Breathing and a delay in response helps halt the body going into a full on fight or flight response and releasing chemicals.
2. Reframe the situation. Take a back step and look at what just happened with yourself removed out of the situation. Give yourself time to rationalise what has occurred – forgive yourself and others.
3. Reason or walk away. If the situation is inflamed by someone close to your heart, take a short break to gather your thoughts and relax so you can keep focussed. So much can go wrong when you are reacting on the spur of the moment.
4. Call a loved one or friend. Tell them what is going on and ask for help. Take time to pray if you are on your own and turn the situation over. Sometimes the burden is too heavy for you to carry alone.
5. Get some rest. Try to sleep and not mull over the situation. Don’t drive too much while stressed.
6. Don’t make rash decisions. So many people regret moving too fast as a response to a stressful situation.
7. Use B group vitamins and calmatives like hops, valerian and chamomile tea.
8. Hug your teddy! He/she always understands! (Use a pillow if you need a stand in.)
9. Be grateful for what is going well – find something to be thankful for.
10. Tomorrow is a new day! So much can happen to make things better. If you can minimise the effects of stress you will see things from a new perspective.
Let me ask you to do something: Close your eyes………and point to yourself. Now open your eyes. Where are you pointing? Most everyone points to the centre of his chest, to his heart, and not to his head or his stomach. Innately we seem to agree with the Bible that my heart is who I truly am.
The fact is that the strongest biological oscillator in the body is the heart, and it acts in a way similar to Huygen’s clocks.The heart has the ability to pull every other bodily system into its own rhythm, whatever that may be. When the heart is at peace or filled with love, it communicates harmony to the entire body. Conversely, when toxic emotions cause the heart to beat in an irregular way, to beat harder or faster, the heart communicates the opposite of peace to the entire body.
Spiritually speaking, when you experience God’s peace, the heart communicates peace to every fibre of your being. Each and every organ experiences that rest. When a person experiences God’s love and love of other people, his heart communicates that love to his mind and to his entire body. When love fills your heart, your entire body is pulled or entrained into a healing atmosphere.
That brings us to the final point, the greatest and most powerful emotion in the universe, Love!
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