5 Steps to Break the Cycle of Stress

5 Steps to Break the Cycle of Stress

 Stress is a major factor in illness.

Stress is an important factor in the vast majority of illnesses, both directly and indirectly.  Stress can have a negative impact on just about every part of your body.  It can suppress your immune function, cause a heart attack or stroke, increase your risk of cancer, delay wound healing, promote inflammation, cause you to gain weight, impair your memory, cause depression, exacerbate diabetes, and worsen your sexual function . . . just for starters.   Stress also makes you age faster even at a genetic and cellular level.

Life is becoming increasingly difficult

A lot of people are feeling that life is increasingly difficult as our world seems to be spiraling out of control.  We watch helplessly as parts of our globe descend into madness and terrorism, and our governments seem increasingly unresponsive to individual needs.  Our lives have become more complicated and we are constantly bombarded with information through television, printed materials and the internet.  Rather than having quiet family time in the evening, our families are scattered doing different activities.

Stress comes from what is going on inside

Stress comes not only from what is going on in your life, but even more important from how you react to it.  When you practice simple stress management techniques, on a regular basis, you can be in the same job, the same environment, even the same family but react in more constructive and healthful ways.

Stress management tools assist us in reducing stress. 

Stress management techniques assist us in responding to the stresses in our lives in a detached and constructive way.  Rather than reacting to events in our lives with fear and contraction, we can respond to them with awareness, love and creativity.  There are many stress management techniques that can be applied and even become our habitual way of being.

We can address stress through physiological techniques such as breathe management, exercise, yoga and relaxation techniques or through psychological techniques such as meditation and conscious introspection.   These techniques assist us in releasing accumulated stress and tension and bring about a greater awareness of how we create stress and tension through our mental, physical and emotional reactions to events in our lives.

Deep breathing provides instant stress reduction. 

Breathing techniques are one of the quickest and easiest ways to break the cycle of stress.  If you slow down and deepen your breath, you will automatically become more relaxed.  When you breath slowly and deeply, it initiates a relaxation response in the nervous system and helps you to become more aware of your reactions. 

Awareness is a key component in reducing stress.  

This week, take some time to contemplate the following:

  1. What are the things in your life that cause you to feel stressed?
  2. What do you do when you feel stressed?
  3. Observe yourself over the next week and notice your stress level, what causes you to feel stressed and what you do when you feel stress.
  4. Consider health ways to address your stress, such as exercise, journaling, breathing, talking it out with a friend.
  5. Experiment with addressing your stress in new ways.

Share your questions, successes and thoughts below.  

Mindset for Healing

Mindset for Healing

The mind is a powerful tool.

It can assist with the process of rebuilding your health . . . or it can get in the way. I believe that the reason I have made so much progress in rebuilding my health is my mindset.  It pulled me through when the body couldn’t.  It also allowed me to keep believing that I could be healthy.

Below are 5 mindsets that will enhance your ability to rebuild your health.

1.  Never give up!

I really get that if you have been ill for a long time, you might doubt if you can really rebuild your health.  It is widely publicized that there is no cure for fibromyalgia by the medical community.  You have plenty of ‘evidence’ that says you will not be healthy again.  At best, you can mitigate symptoms and learn to live with it.

In my struggle to rebuild my health, I went through various phases.  I denied it.  I fought it.  I surrendered to it.  I was angry at it.  I gave up.  But then, a very wise person suggested to me some information about a supplement that was known to help fibromyalgia.  I tried it and got good results . . . temporarily.   But what I learned from that was there is always new information available.  That is one thing doesn’t work, there is always something else to try.

At that point, I made up my mind that I would always keep trying to rebuild my health.  After all, what else did I have to do.  I knew that if I didn’t keep trying, I would only get worse.  But If I kept trying, there might just be something out there that would work.

From that point on, I held the intention that I could rebuild my health.  I could be healthy again.  That made all the difference.  From that point on, my health did improve.  And continues to do so.

2.  Be grateful for the baby steps.

Sometimes, we can get so focused on one symptom that we miss the 5 others that have changed or improved.  It is important to pay attention to your symptoms and be grateful for the small baby steps.  Perhaps you feel more relaxed.  That may be a huge step for you, but someone on the outside might not notice it.  Perhaps you feel better when you wake in the morning.  Perhaps, you don’t react as strongly to something that triggers a reaction in you.  Notice these small changes and know that they are signs that health is rebuilding itself from the inside out.

What I have noticed, is that sometimes a symptom has gone away, and I completely forget about it.  I can be so focused on what hasn’t shifted, that I completely ignore what has shifted.

I have a symptom inventory list that I provide for my clients.  Take an inventory of your symptoms and the intensity of them.  Periodically check back in with your list to see what has improved. What has gotten worse, if any.  What has gone away.  This helps you to have an objective view of where you are and what progress you have made.  You might surprise yourself.

If you notice a symptom getting worse, then some detective work is called for.  Perhaps you need to change your protocol.  Perhaps you are in a healing response or retracing experience.  A healing response is when a symptom temporarily gets worse as it is healing.  Retracing is when an old symptom reappears as the body is healing on a deeper level.

3.  Put yourself first.

Most of us with Fibromyalgia are caring people.  We want our family and friends to be cared for.  Sometimes we put their needs ahead of our own.  We push ourselves beyond what we can do to take care of others.

I call this the Eveready Bunny Syndrome.  We think we are like the Eveready Bunny who just keeps on going.  Unfortunately, even the Eveready Bunny’s batteries run out.  When those batteries run out you just cannot keep on going.

You must include yourself among those you love.  If you have fibromyalgia, chances are your battery has run out or is very low.  If you do not take care of yourself first, you will have nothing to give anyone else.  As your health improves, it will be important to watch this.  I know as my health improved and my energy started to come back, I was so excited, that I would push myself too hard and have a relapse.  Take care.  Be aware.  Make the choice to respect your body’s limitations and get the rest that you need.

4.  Have compassion.

Fibromyalgia is a difficult illness.  It is difficult for you and it is difficult for your loved ones.  You may be experiencing difficulties just getting through the day.  You may not be able to do all the things that you would love to do for yourself and your loved ones.  Your loved ones my find it difficult to see you struggling, to watch you pain.  Out of their love for you, they might say or do things that don’t work for you.

Compassion is the action of accepting and understanding the struggle that comes with fibromyalgia.  It is forgiving yourself for not being able to do all that you want to do.  It is forgiving your family members when they don’t understand how you feel and why you are so limited.  It is empathy and understanding.

One of the greatest gifts that I received from having fibromyalgia is compassion.  I grew to have compassion for myself as I struggled with this illness.  I grew to have compassion for my family as they struggled to understand and cope with what I was going through.  Before I had fibromyalgia, I was a pusher.  I pushed myself and I pushed others.  Now, I listen to my body, my heart, others, and my soul and make choices from a place of love and compassion.

5.  Trust that everything is working for your highest good.

How can having fibromyalgia bee a good thing?  This one can be a toughie.  During my worst years with fibromyalgia, I struggled a lot with it.  As one point, I adopted the possibility that there was a gift in what I was experiencing.  That having fibromyalgia was a wake-up call.  That it wasn’t a punishment.  I hadn’t done anything wrong.  I wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t my fault.

I took a good hard look at how having fibromyalgia was changing me and how I viewed myself and the world.  How it was changing the trajectory of my life.  How it changed my relationships with others.  How it changed my choices.  I would have been in a very different place in my life if I hadn’t had fibromyalgia.  I am not sure I would have been any happier than I am now.  Probably not.  I probably would have more money and a different job.  I am pretty sure those things wouldn’t have given me the satisfaction and fulfillment that I experience now.  My values changed for the better.

I believe fibromyalgia can be a wake-up call to put your thoughts, emotions, and actions in alignment with a higher power.  In alignment with LOVE, peace and joy.  Yes, it is a rude awakening.  Perhaps it feels like you have been hit by a semi-truck full force.   But for me in rebuilding my health, I found a much better path than the one I was on.  A path that has brought me closer to myself, God, others and the world around me.  For that, I am absolutely grateful.

Contemplation for the week:

By embracing even one of these mindset suggestions, can pave the way for the others.  These shifts in mindset, can provide a more positive outlook on a devastating illness.  They can help you shift out of a victim mentality to feeling more empowered and in control of your life.  For me, these mindset shifts made all the difference in the world.  They helped me to keep my head above water in challenging times and moving forward in unraveling my experience with fibromyalgia and rebuilding my health, reclaiming my life, rediscovering my joy and aligning with my purpose.

Reflect on your current attitude about having fibromyalgia and consider the mindset suggestions above.  Notice if there are one or more that you would like to adopt.  Experiment with them and post your comments and questions below.