We live in a fear-based society. A world full of stress. Could all of that stress be causing us illness?
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We live in a fear based society. A world full of stress. We know how stress shows up in our lives with our busy, fast paced world; sped up by the technology that always wants us to do something. And the pressures coming at us from all directions, even those that come from inside us as we put pressure on ourselves.
What about fear though?
Today, I’ll be talking about how fear shows up in our world. It’s more common than you might think. I’ll also be talking about the stress response and how it impacts our lives and our health. Along with a few tips that can help you reduce the impact of stress in your life.
Could all that fear and stress be making us sick? Let’s find out.
It turns out fear is an excellent motivator. If you Google that phrase – fear as a motivator – you’ll find a lot of articles that agree with that statement. Many of them are about marketing and how fear is a good marketing tool. But we need to know what it does to us and what impact it has on our health.
In the marketing world, it’s used in almost every situation commercially. I remember one from maybe I was a kid, but it was this one and there was just this voice that came on and he said “BAD BREATH IN DOGS.” And you know, if you were a dog owner, it had to just put the fear in you that oh my gosh, is my dog have bad breath? What can I do? What’s he’s selling that can help me with his dog’s bad breath.
If you just look at odors, a lot of commercials play into our fear of the wrong odors. Deodorant commercials are one example and air fresheners because we have to hide all those cooking smells, and those other – all those nasty smells in your house. And the laundry product commercials, they show the the mom trying to deal with her son’s smelly gym clothes. You know, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we need all these fragrances. And we have this fear of the wrong ones coming in. Look at prescription drugs. Their whole marketing model is on fear of what might happen to you if you don’t take them.
The stress response is often called the Fight or Flight Response. And I had a conversation with a friend A while back on this topic, because apparently the studies where they came up with that were mostly of male respondents. In some cases, a female may respond by freezing or there’s also a Tend and Befriend Response. I think it probably depends on the person and the situation. There may be a dividing line between male and female but although for myself, I feel like I’m more inclined to be the one to flee or to fight rather than to freeze. I know when I’m in a situation, situations I’ve been in, I tend to want to either fight or to get out of the way.
In any case, it is a stress response. The the ultimate how you react physically, in the moment is different from what I want to talk about anyway, because I want to talk about what happens inside our body.
And this is like the really cool stuff to me because it’s science. And I love to get into finding out what makes all those little things happen.
When you first have that stress response, whether it’s your boss yelling at you, or maybe it’s something that makes you fearful or whatever causes that stress response, quite a number of hormones are released, including prolactin growth hormone, ACTH, and then the biggies are the cortisol and the epinephrine.
Together, those hormones do a number of things in your body: They increase your metabolism. They release glucose from the fat and send it into the blood so that you can react faster, and you can have that energy you need if you need to fight or to flee. They increase the pulse and the blood pressure, increase respiration, as well as dilating the bronchi so that you can have more oxygen in your blood. Your nerves fire more quickly and the blood supply is reduced for your digestion, growth, immune system and reproduction, because it wants to send all that blood supply to the heart and the muscles and the brain, so you can take action. If the stress response is triggered, because you’re in danger, you need that burst of energy, you need all the resources that you can muster, to fight or to run.
And so what happens then is, of course, your body uses that glucose for that burst of energy and then the response ends, the situation goes back to normal, and your body goes back to normal.
But when we are in stress for other reasons, the response in the body is the same like when the boss yells at you, or whatever causes stress for you. For me, it’s usually worrying about something that’s not going to happen, you’re still in that state of stress without those reactions. And so it can become a chronic state of stress. And that’s where we get into problems. Because it wasn’t meant to be but a short term reaction. And long term think about that, if it’s shutting off your digestion, then that means you’re certainly setting yourself up for discomfort in your digestion, as a result of it not acting like it should. And the growth thing well, that could impact your fingernails, your hair, new skin, and your immune system. We all know we need an immune system, so when it’s shut down for very long, it certainly opens us up to lots of things. Your self repair mechanisms are shut off, part of those are from the immune system. And so that means that you may not have proteins that are repaired when they need to be, you may not heal as quickly as you should. And also the one that was very interesting to me, because I’ve seen it happen for myself is that pain and sensitivity will increase when you are under chronic stress. So let’s think about that. We have all this chronic stress in our world, and we have a lot of chronic pain. I’m wondering, or I’m pretty sure that there’s got to be a connection.
What are some signs of stress, they’re going to be different for each of us. Things that might stress me out may not bother you and vice versa. In any case, the signs that your under chronic stress will be very similar. They include not sleeping well, weight gain, especially abdominal weight gain, fatigue, catching more colds and infections, dizziness, increased pain, a decreased sex drive, the gastrointestinal upsets I talked about earlier, depression, and anxiety.
So does fear or stress lead to illness? Well, I think I’ve pretty much answered that already. Yes, it does, it can. Because obviously, if you’ve got an elevated blood pressure, that’s going to cause all kinds of problems. The cortisol, raising the blood sugar eventually could lead to diabetes and obesity. Chronic stress can lead to muscle tension and inflammation and that chronic pain and many other things. You could have thyroid issues, ulcers and autoimmune diseases as a result.
So what can we do? How do we avoid the effects of fear and stress? Well, I think the biggest thing you need to do is, is try to avoid stress and maybe how you react to it. I had open heart surgery a few years back, and my surgeon had a handout on instructions. And it included this statement:
“As much as possible, decrease your exposure to stress and negative situations, even movies. That has been shown to increase spasms of the vessels and arteries.”
I took that to heart. And I had been a talk show junkie. And I quit paying much attention to that I quit following as much news and especially the political stuff. And after my surgery when I had gotten over the worst of it. And I tried to go back to listening to talk shows and all of that, I could feel the stress in my body reacting to it. And so I have really turned away from a lot of stuff that I used to listen to. But the constant watching of the news on TV, that’s something that that you’d be better off, avoiding. And if you watch any of them, and I’ve watched them sat in a doctor’s office, and watch like CNN, and do you know that they give the same report like 10 times in an hour, they don’t have anything new most of the time. So the chronic watching of that doesn’t really doesn’t even keep us informed as you might think.
So avoiding drama and other situations and honestly turning off TV and all those commercials.
Proactively, you could take up a meditation practice or a mindfulness practice. Either one of those will certainly help you reduce your stress levels.
Another good idea would be to unplug from TV and your assorted technology devices.
There’s something else I want to talk about while I’m here today. It’s a personal story, but it does relate to healing.
I learned recently that a relative of mine had two strokes within a three week period. While I don’t know all the details, apparently there was some brain damage. And he has some loss of functionality on the left side. And so he’s currently unable to work. And as a result of this stroke, they discovered undiagnosed diabetes and high blood pressure.
That’s always hard news to hear. But it’s worse because he is under 50 years old. It seems to be much more common in our world today that it’s actually across the world. And it’s reached a level of a pandemic. It’s so sad that so many people are unaware of the damage they’re doing to their bodies. And we have a system that fails to educate us and a food system that wants us to just eat everything. But in the end, we’re each responsible for our own health, and we only get that one body and we need to take care of it.
Now I see how important Self Powered Healing is. The mission of Self Powered Healing is to be a source of hope for people dealing with chronic illness and pain. To make people aware of what they need to do to heal, and to make them aware of what they can do for their own health. To empower people to seek help.
You know, as long as you’re still walking the planet, there’s hope for a healthier life, you can turn things around. Your doctor may not telling you that but it’s true. You just first have to believe you can be healthier, then you have to work to make the changes that are needed.
If you’re here and listening to this podcast, then you’re already on the right track. Keep listening and share this podcast with others. You may also visit barbaramcneely.com to see show notes and references for each episode.
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