Stress may energize and lift you to a new plane or it may press you down into the deepest hole. How you experience stress is entirely individual, as situations that excite and stimulate you may not have the same effect on your colleagues or family. Similarly, events that set your teeth on edge may not upset your friends and relatives in the same way. It is your response to stress that can affect your health. Any situation which you find painful, and over which you feel you have no control will, if it is not relieved, begin to affect your well being.
You may not realize that you can continue to feel stressed about events in the past that seem long gone. Although the situation has changed, the emotions you felt at the time can persist in aggravating you even though you are no longer conscious of them. Very often these unconscious feelings will manifest themselves as physical illness.
When you experience stress, your body reacts as though you were faced with great danger. Your brain causes the release of the steroidal hormone cortisol and the neurotransmitter adrenaline in order to prepare you to fight or to run away. This process affects all of the systems of the body. Your heart rate increases, your digestion shuts down, your skin becomes cool and clammy, and your brain loses the ability to think about complicated tasks. You are ready to respond quickly to whatever threatens you.
If you can escape the source of your stress, you may experience relaxation where your body functions return to normal. This is more likely to happen in cases of acute stress, which are temporary. However, if you cannot eliminate the source of your discomfort, you are facing a chronic situation where your body does not have an opportunity to recover.
In addition to the physical changes during stress, you also experience powerful emotions which may be difficult to express. Not surprisingly, feelings of anger and fear are often key. It is the inability to release the physical and emotional tensions of stress that can lead to many complaints.
Stress has been linked to:
•Hypertension and heart disease
•Indigestion and gastrointestinal illnesses such as Crohn’s and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
•Immune System disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
•Weight gain and loss
•Joint pain, back pain, and tension headaches
•Skin disorders such eczema and psoriasis
•Poor memory, concentration, and learning
•Psychological problems such as extreme anxiety and depression
•Mysterious conditions for which there is no name
There are several ways you can release some of the strain you feel, whether or not you choose to treat a particular condition. Removing yourself from the environment which stresses you even for a short time and doing an aerobic exercise such as brisk walking will relax your muscles. Regular physical activity of any sort will help you to unwind. Try classes in yoga or Tai Chi to not only tone your muscles but also to ease your spirit.
To relieve your emotions, write your thoughts down in a journal. The physical act of writing will lessen the tension in your body, while giving you an opportunity to say all the things you haven’t been able to.
Taking 10 or 15 minutes a day to meditate about what you want in your life will focus your mental and emotional energy in a beneficial way. There are many approaches to meditation.
Here is a simple one:
•Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
•Remove any metal jewelry you are wearing.
•Close your eyes and take 4 deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
•Count backward from 10 to 1 to still your mind and count again if you are continuing to think about your day.
•Create a picture in your mind of what you would like to happen. Focus on this image. Keep it positive to promote good energy for yourself.
When you are stressed, it is important to support your immune system through nourishing food, nutritional supplements, and adequate water. Make a conscious effort to eat 4 or 5 servings or more a day of fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains. In addition, take a multi-vitamin mineral supplement, 50-100 mg of Vitamin B complex and 1000mg of Vitamin C every day. Avoid caffeinated beverages and drink 8 glasses of water a day to keep your system hydrated. A probiotic twice daily will also boost your immunity to illness.
HOMEOPATHY FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The holiday season can bring great joy, but also a lot of extra work and worry. Shopping for the perfect gifts can be exhausting and frustrating if you are also struggling through crowds of fellow shoppers. Perhaps you are in charge of preparing the family dinner as well as organizing entertainment and gifts. You may have to deal with overexcited or fractious children or unappreciative relatives. All of these situations can increase your feelings of stress.
Here are some suggestions to help you cope:
•If you are feeling upset and tired a combination of Bach Flower Remedies can help. Put four drops of the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and four drops of Bach Flower Olive into a 500ML bottle of water. Rescue Remedy works to calm a person in any circumstances, while Olive will relieve exhaustion. Take a sip whenever you feel your spirits or your energy flagging.
•Difficult relatives can depress you or irritate you. Again some Bach Flower Remedies can be helpful. Put four drops of any of the following alone or in combination into 500 ML of water and sip as needed:
Walnut – will give you inner strength in dealing with others
Mustard – will lighten feelings of depression
Larch – will boost your self- confidence
Holly – lessens feelings of irritation and increases patience
• If you have trouble relaxing enough to sleep try taking one of these herbal tinctures: St. John’s Wort or Valerian. Put 20 drops in a little water and drink just before bed. Take these only on a temporary basis as long term use may cause muscle or joint discomfort.
• Children who are happily overexcited and can’t sleep may calm down with a dose of homeopathic Coffea 12c. You can give them 2 pellets every 30 minutes until they nod off.
• Children who are very irritable and don’t know what they want may benefit from a dose of homeopathic Chamomilla. Give 2 pellets of 30c. Repeat the dose when the child again shows signs of bad temper.
If stress is making you unwell, in spite of your best efforts to cope with it, homeopathic treatment can help you to heal. Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine that treats you as an individual. Because every person is unique, your expression of illness needs to be considered as part of an overall physical, mental, and emotional response to your personal environment and to the world. For example, your responses to weather and food, as well as your pattern of energy during the day are just as important as your specific symptoms. The ailments you experience as a result of stress may be very different from those of your partner or friends. Homeopathy is ideal for treating stress-related illnesses because the remedy chosen will address both your physical discomforts and your emotional state. Homeopathic treatment can not only relieve your symptoms, but can also help you to think about your circumstances in a new way. Your whole system, physical, mental, and emotional is brought into balance.
CASE 1 – STRESS FROM THE PAST
Janet is a tall, slender, friendly woman who had been suffering from Crohn’s disease for six years when I met her. It had come on after a bad break up with her boyfriend. Although she was now happily married to someone else and the mother of a toddler, she continued to feel slightly crampy every day and about every ten days would have a severe attack of cramping and diarrhea. In addition, she could hear her own voice echoing in her left ear when she spoke. After her first dose of homeopathic phosphorus (200c) she reported that the echoing had disappeared and the cramping was less. A second dose relieved the remaining symptoms. A few weeks after this dose Janet became pregnant. Phosphorus LM 1 controlled the nausea from her second pregnancy and gave her boundless energy. After the baby, the Crohn’s made a mild reappearance. Again one dose of phosphorus 200c cleared up Janet’s discomfort.
CASE 2 – WORK-RELATED STRESS
Marcia worked for a non profit agency and was very frustrated in her work. She was an intelligent and creative leader who was extremely good at attracting media attention for the cause. She knew her boss and her colleagues did not appreciate her skills, but felt she could not leave her job, as many other people depended on her. The situation had her trapped. She began to suffer from insomnia and to pick fights with her partner. She also wanted to isolate herself from her friends. After treatment with homeopathic ferrum metallicum (1 dose of 30c and 1 dose of 200c, 4 weeks apart), her sleep returned to normal, she was not so irritable at home and she wanted to socialize. She also decided that she could leave her job and not let people down by going to work for a different branch of the agency.
CASE 3 – STRESS-RELATED MYSTERY SYMPTOMS
Su Lin was a graduate student suffering from a mysterious ailment. She was generally a chilly person, but she would feel extremely cold at different spots on her body that would then become very itchy. If she attempted to warm up a cold place with a hot water bottle, she would feel cold somewhere else. The itch drove her crazy and she would have to scratch until her skin felt really rough. Su Lin was also extremely anxious about her work. Although she had scholarships all the way through school in China, in North America she felt very insecure about her abilities. After three doses of lycopodium 200c (6 weeks a part), her body temperature had increased and the cold itchy spots were gone. During treatment, she began to keep a journal and to practice meditation. She told me writing about her feelings really relieved her stress and the meditation relaxed her.