Key Takeaway: Stress, if not taken well, can be our undoing. It is what weakens the immune system and therefore makes us more susceptible to disease and illness. Fortunately, it can be managed very easily. Here are six ways how.
It’s the middle of the workweek (or study week), and chances are you might be stressed in some way or another. I know I am. 😉
But did you know that stress can be our worst enemy if not dealt with properly?
Stress, apart from not eating right, is the biggest reason our immune system weakens. Oh, and this isn’t simply mental stress – though it is the root of ’em all. Emotional stress and even physical stress are included.
According to a speaker I heard once, who has been working in organizational harmony for the past thirty years, the biggest and root source of mental stress is fear and worry. In fact, fear and worry is the opposite of trust and faith – and if we take it to the extreme, constant fear and worrying is in fact idolatrous, since we turn away from God and let our fears govern us, literally. I know this, because I’ve experienced it myself, to my great detriment.
Eventually, fear and worry may lead to emotional stress: resentment, anger, envy, regret, and even depression. Other kinds of mental stress, such as pessimism and a tendency to focus on problems than solutions, may also be present – and all take its toll on the body. This contributes to a sense of un-wellness, which is in fact a symptom of immune system deficiency. We get sick and tired more often – and in extreme cases suffer major incidents like heart attacks and strokes.
Physical stress is also a contributor. The inevitable kind is aging – we naturally become less resistant to sickness as we grow older. But external factors can also be stressful – such as pollution, the side-effects of prescription drugs, and not eating right (which translates to an amino acid deficiency). This is one reason we need to take care of the environment – pollution is also harmful to us.
So, how do you prevent stress from getting to you? Here are six basic, simple, and highly doable ways. You don’t need rocket science, it’s elementary, my dear reader.
1. Eat right
As mentioned above, one form of physical stress that negatively impacts the immune system is amino acid deficiency. This happens when we don’t eat right – when we don’t eat proper foods, foods that contain those helpful compounds.
Fruits and vegetables are a very good source – the best food source, in fact – of amino acids. They’re very laden with them, and they’re digested quickly. Meat both contains less amino acids and digests more slowly, which is why the food pyramid advocates having more of the former as opposed to the latter.
Eat enough to keep you going too, of course. Too little food and you’ll have inadequate ammunition to face the day. Too much, and your body might get overwhelmed. The key is moderation and balance, as always.
2. Exercise regularly
Turn all that negative energy into something positive and productive by exercising. It polishes the systems of your body, helping ensure that things in it go where they are supposed to go – especially waste or toxins that are expelled by sweating. Although it makes your heart beat faster, it does so for the heart’s good by helping it stay active and fit.
Again, you do not want to over-exercise, which is just as dangerous. Your body burns more than it can do so, and you become physically overwhelmed, sometimes to your great detriment.
3. Take a break
Studying or at work, and tackling a seemingly impossible or difficult task? Don’t fuss too much about it – at least all at once. Take it easy, and take it slowly. Give yourself a break regularly, so that your brain can relax a little bit, too. Work too hard and it can give in.
You might want to take a brief walk outside (it does provide some exercise too). Or you may want to close your eyes and stop thinking about the task at hand for a short while. Which leads me to way number 4.
The more thorough way of de-cluttering your mind and immune system (kind of like the “Delete Forever” function of the Trash in computers and email rather than simply moving stuff there) is by meditation. It allows you to clear your mind by compelling you to relax and focus your thoughts on something light, something positive, something serene and tranquil. This way, you clear out the “junk” – the negative thoughts and feelings of your day – and promote inner healing and peace, leading to a relaxed and reinvigorated you.
The best thing to meditate upon is the Word of God – the Word that embodies love, light, and life. What better source of healing is there than the Supreme Healer Himself? This Word can take on different forms than its written form found in Scripture – God may be leading you to an examen (where you meditate on your day or experiences), or simply to a visualized journey through nature. Pianist Kevin Kern’s 2003 album The Winding Path provides such an opportunity with its carefully assembled listening flow and an included guided visualization.
5. Get a massage
As if 2, 3, and 4 weren’t enough, a massage is also a great way to relieve stress. A massage helps stimulate the inner healing processes of your body that the Egyptians and the Chinese have long discovered, and it also helps more easily get rid of toxins accumulating in your body.
It is recommended that one gets a massage regularly so as to maintain this aforementioned healing process. I personally suggest having one every 1-2 weeks right at the end of the working week.
Lastly, to prevent stress from getting to you, you have to make the effort for it not to do so, from within. Paradoxically, this effort does not require energy – you simply have to enjoy life. Be positive. Be happy. Be grateful. It takes more energy to smile and laugh than to frown and get angry.
Happiness is infectious, and is crucial in building a world on love and peace. Happiness is essential in your living out your higher purpose, in your being truly responsible, and in your serving God and others.
Have a purposeful week!