I made a mistake in last week’s blog. I told you I had not been feeling well with sinus/allergy issues since mid-April. It was actually mid-March. Nothing major, just a nagging cough and drainage. This has been dragging on for at least 10 weeks. I am finally feeling like it has let go and I am hardly coughing any more. It has however, taken its toll. I told you that I felt like some extreme stress had weakened my immune system and now a prolonged sickness has caused more stress. Stress is a vicious cycle, isn’t it? We ended last week’s blog with an appointment this week to take a look at how stress affects health and some preventative measures we can take. Let’s dive right in.
Synonyms for stress include pressure, strain, anxiety, tension hassle, worry, trauma. There is no avoiding stress in our lives and managing stress is the key to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
I told you last week that I have recognized a pattern of stress followed by an illness over the course of my life. Not just your normal, everyday stress but after a long time of the same stress or an intensely stressful event, I would find myself getting sick – mostly colds and allergy-type conditions. When I recognized this pattern, I began to search for things to prevent this from happening. At first, my search was for medical solutions. Anti-depressants and other medications to target my emotions and my physical symptoms. Then my search began focusing on natural, alternative medicines to treat the symptoms. Now my major focus is prevention. However, I have also learned that the first line of prevention should not be focused on natural, alternative medicine for physical health, either. It must first and foremost be my spiritual health. Science changes. Medical treatments change.
God never does and faith in Him is the anchor that holds during times of stress whether it is a little worry or a major trauma.
When we view our physical health through the lens of prevention, our activities, our habits and our focus is different from conventional thinking.
When we view our lives through the lens of faith, our reactions, our responses, and our focus is different from the rest of the unbelieving world.
There are a lot of things we can do to reduce the risks of physical ailments that result from stress and in general be healthy as possible.
We can eat nutritionally well.
We can exercise wisely.
We can get the rest that our bodies need.
We can better hydrate our bodies.
We can rid ourselves of habits that impair us physically
We can boost our immune system with proper vitamins, minerals, nutrients and micronutrients.
All of this is not easy to do in this day and age when there are so many deliciously unhealthy and quick foods, when there are more appealing ways to spend our time other than exercise and when we are addicted to sodas, sugars, chips and have other unhealthy habits we may not even be aware of. It is also difficult to wade through the mounds of information on what is considered healthy, clean eating. Sometimes, no matter what we do, we will get sick or have physical problems.
I am not going to be able to spend time on this in these blogs but have created a private Facebook group for purposes of information, discussion and support. If you are interested, you can ask to join this group by clicking HERE. Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are not on Facebook.
My blogs will focus more on the spiritual.
Our spiritual health has a significant impact on our emotional health which has a major influence on our physical health.
Our thoughts determine our beliefs and our beliefs determine our faith. What you think, you believe. What you believe is what you have faith in and then eventually act upon. This is why God tells us to take captive our thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ
If our first thoughts under stress are to eat, drink alcohol, take drugs or medication, have a cigarette, gulp down coffee, exercise to exhaustion, or volunteer to the point of burnout, then perhaps we aren’t believing God and His promises. Perhaps we are victims of our stress. Perhaps we are only dealing with the symptoms of stress, not with the root problem. Perhaps we need to assess our thoughts, beliefs, actions and habits to make sure we are in alignment with God. Perhaps we are putting our faith in these instead of God. Perhaps that could be the root source of our stress.
Research shows that excess stress manifests itself in the body in harmful ways: heart disease, digestive disorders, asthma, diminished immune function, memory loss, loss of sleep and even particular types of cancer. An increase in cortisol, a stress-related chemical, has been linked to obesity.
Stress has a major influence on our souls as well. Our emotions are affected. We may feel nervous, sad, irritable, or unable to concentrate – all of which alter our sense of well-being and the way we relate to others. Our thinking becomes distorted and focused on our situation, not God. All of this affects the decisions we make.
The most serious impact of excess stress is its effect on our spirit. We may feel disconnected from God and even resentful or guilty that we feel stress.
An intimate relationship with God and a confident knowledge of His character and His promises is the prescription for our spirits and our souls which then helps our physical bodies to be able to function better as God intended.
Our bodies are not designed to live from drama to drama. We have the ability to CHOOSE to react emotionally or to act upon what God says. We have the ability to CHOOSE to run to other people for advice or to vent or we can go to God first. We can CHOOSE to put our faith in the things of this world or put our faith in God
We can CHOOSE to believe upon Jesus Christ not only as our Savior but our Lord. The Lord over our body and soul.
We can CHOOSE to trust and obey Him.
We can CHOOSE to seek His peace by continually lifting all things to Him in prayer, filling our minds with His Word daily, and worshiping at His feet always in all that we think, say and do.
We can take care of our bodies but it is by His grace and mercy that our stress can be managed.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ERV) Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds.