Stress Makes You Sick – Literally

Stress and Cancer are Related

I read an article recently by a guy named Dr. Doolittle. He wrote it for the Stanford Center for Integrative medicine. And in it, he wrote of studies that reveal a strong relationship between emotional stress and cancer.

Obviously, emotional stress is not the only factor in your susceptibility to cancer, but it is an important one. And often overlooked until recently.

How Emotional Stress Impacts Your Body

The world is full of scary things. As a mammal, you are programmed by evolution to react to them with the “fight or flight” part of your nervous system. When that happens, your body is flooded with adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones.

Unless you can get rid of all that energy, in other words, put it to use by fighting or running, it will build up in your body and your body’s defenses will wear down over time. You will have a poor immune system and you will be more vulnerable to all sickness, including cancer.

Emotional Life-History Pattern of Cancer Patients

Not convinced of the relationship between stress and cancer, yet? Check out the 4 distinctive features of the emotional life-history of 76% of cancer patients in a consistently repeated research study originally completed in the early 1990s by Lawrence LeShan.

  1. The person’s childhood was marked by extreme difficulty in establishing warm, satisfying relationships. Usually, because of the death of a parent, divorce, chronic conflict, or prolonged separation from one or both parents, the child developed a deep sense of isolation and loneliness, with a hopeless view of ever gaining lasting, fulfilling relationships. The child tried to please others in order to win affection.
  2. In adulthood, the person found strength and meaning in a relationship or career and poured a great deal of energy into this vital source of support.
  3. When this key source was removed—through death, divorce, disillusionment, or retirement—and the childhood wound reopened, the person again experienced that sense of loss, despair, hopelessness, and helplessness.
  4. Feelings—especially negative ones like anger, hurt, and disappointment—were constantly bottled up; in fact, others viewed the person as “too good to be true.” But this superficial, saint-like quality was a reflection of a deeper inability to express hostility and overcompensation for feelings of unworthiness.

The same emotional-history pattern occurred in only 10% of a control group that did not have cancer.

How to Eliminate the Build-up of Excess Stress Energy

So what are you supposed to do if you have a history like the one described above? What do you do if you have a stressful life?

The first step is recognizing that you have a stressful life.

You don’t necessarily have to get rid of the stressors in your life. After all, you have to pay your bills and you still have children. But you need to find ways to bring your body back to equilibrium after the constant state of “fight or flight” you are in every day.

You can do that through simple exercises that stimulate the rest and repair branch of your nervous system.

These are exercises as simple as breathing, grounding, and pounding. Which, when done properly provide you with the nervous system reset that will go a long way to protecting you from the effects of excess stress on your body.

Realistically, you don’t need more than 5 -10 minutes a day to manage this aspect of your long-term health-care plan. Why not give that to yourself?

If you’re ready to learn more about how to manage your stress, give me a call. We’ll talk, and I’ll teach you how to do it.

Emotional Utopia, the book by Leah Benson, LMHC

Contact me now to set up your free 15-minute phone consultation.

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