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By Dr. Mercola
The connections between stress and physical health are being explored
at greater frequency these days. For example, recent news items have reported
the links between emotional distress and physical pain, chronic
inflammation and even stillbirths.
In fact, pregnant women who experience significant stress in the months
prior to, or during pregnancy are more likely to deliver stillborn babies.
The risk is heightened with each stressful event, such as moving, losing a
job, or the death of a friend or family member.
Previous studies have linked stress to lowered immune system function;
increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels; altered brain chemistry,
blood sugar levels and hormonal balance. It has also been found to increase
the rate at which tumors grow.
In a poll, work was identified as the number one source of stress in
Clearly, it is not possible or even recommended to eliminate stress
entirely. However you can work to provide your body with tools to compensate
for the bioelectrical short-circuiting that can cause serious disruption in
many of your body's important systems.
By using techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), you
can reprogram your body’s reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday
life. Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and meditation are also
important “release valves” that can help you manage your stress.
How Stress Causes Disease
When you're stressed, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol,
which prepare your body to fight or flee the stressful event. Your heart rate
increases, your lungs take in more oxygen, your blood flow increases and
parts of your immune system become temporarily suppressed, which reduces
your inflammatory response to pathogens and other foreign invaders.
When stress becomes chronic, however, your immune system becomes
less sensitive to cortisol, and since inflammation is partly regulated by this
hormone, this decreased sensitivity heightens the inflammatory response and
allows inflammation to get out of control.
This is in large part how stress “predisposes” you to getting sick in the
first place. And, in the event you do get sick, emotional stressors can make
your symptoms worse. Because inflammation plays a role in most diseases,
including cardiovascular disease, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model
suggests why stress impacts them as well.
Links Explored Between Physical and Emotional Pain Relief
According to two recent studies from the Association for Psychological
Science, physical pain may be a natural mechanism to help you regulate your
emotions. This concept was explored by investigating a phenomenon known as
“pain offset relief,” in which you experience the emotion of relief when the
physical pain is removed.
In the first study, the researchers recorded participants’ emotions via
electrodes in response to loud noises delivered either alone or seconds after
receiving a low- or high-intensity electric shock. After pain offset,
participants showed increased positive emotions and decreased negative
emotions. The greater the pain (i.e. intensity of the shock), the greater the
increase in positive emotions once the pain stopped. According to the
authors, these findings shed light on the emotional nature of pain offset
However, while the authors speculated that this might help us understand
why some people seek relief through self-injurious behavior, a second study
refuted the idea that those who harm themselves in an effort to experience
relief do so because they experience greater levels of relief once the pain
is removed than others. According to the featured article:
“Surprisingly, healthy individuals displayed pain offset relief
levels that were comparable to those of individuals with a history of self-
harm, and there was no correlation between pain offset relief and self-harm
frequency. These results do not support the hypothesis that heightened pain
offset relief is a risk factor for future self-injury. Instead... the biggest
risk factors for nonsuicidal self-injury may concern how some people overcome
the instinctive barriers that keep most people from inflicting self-harm.”
Dwelling on Stressful Events Can Increase Inflammation in Your Body
Related research presented at the annual meeting of the American
Psychosomatic Society in Miami, Florida, found that ruminating on a stressful
incident can increase your levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of
inflammation in your body. It was the first study to directly measure this
To do so, they asked 34 healthy young women to give a speech about her
candidacy for a job in front of two stone-faced interviewers wearing white
lab coats. Afterward, half the group was asked to contemplate their
performance while the other half were asked to think about neutral things
like going to the grocery store. Blood samples were drawn from each
participant, showing that the C-reactive protein levels were significantly
higher in those who kept ruminating on their speech. According to Medical
“For these participants, the levels of the inflammatory marker
continued to rise for at least one hour after the speech. During the same
time period, the marker returned to starting levels in the subjects who had
been asked to focus on other thoughts.
The C-reactive protein is primarily produced by the liver as part of
the immune system's initial inflammatory response. It rises in response to
traumas, injuries or infections in the body, [lead author, Peggy] Zoccola
explained. C-reative protein is widely used as a clinical marker to determine
if a patient has an infection, but also if he or she may be at risk for
disease later in life. 'More and more, chronic inflammation is being
associated with various disorders and conditions,' Zoccola said. 'The immune
system plays an important role in various cardiovascular disorders such as
heart disease, as well as cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.'"
Work is the Primary Cause of Stress in People's Lives
So what’s keeping your mind running in circles? According to a recent
survey of more than 2,000 people, work topped the list as the most stressful
factor in people's lives.
34 percent of respondents reported that their work life was either
“very” or “quite” stressful
30 percent cited debt or financial problems as the most stressful
17 percent cited health problems as their main source of stress
Workplace stress resulted in seven percent of adults having suicidal
thoughts. That figure was even higher among 18-24-year olds — as many
as 10 percent in this age group have had suicidal thoughts as a result of work
stress. One in five people also reported developing anxiety due to work-
related stresses, and even more disturbingly, nearly 60 percent reported
using alcohol after work to cope. Fourteen percent also said they drank
during the work day to deal with the pressure!
Other destructive coping mechanisms cited included:
Smoking (28 percent)
Taking antidepressants (15 percent)
Over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills (16 and 10 percent
The cost associated with all this stress goes beyond that of an
individual’s health. It’s also costly to employers. Stress-related health
expenses, productivity losses and the costs associated with high employee
turnover rates is currently costing American companies an estimated $360
billion each year.10 And while more than half of managers (56 percent) polled
said they’d like to do more to improve the mental health of their staff, they
said they needed more training, and 46 percent said mental health was not a
priority in their organization so they couldn’t do anything about it even
though they wanted to.
For examples on how you can increase wellness at work, whether you’re an
employee or a manager, please see my recent article "Why Wellness in the
Workplace Matters." Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer told Medical News
"Work related mental health problems are an issue too important for
businesses to ignore. Our research shows that employees are still
experiencing high levels of stress at work, which is negatively impacting
their physical and mental health. We know that right now, one in six workers
is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety and yet our survey tells us
that most managers don't feel they have had enough training or guidance to
Improving mental well being in the workplace doesn't have to cost a
lot. Our research shows that people whose organizations offered flexible
working hours and generous annual leave said such measures supported their
mental well being. Three in five people said that if their employer took
action to support the mental well being of all staff, they would feel more
loyal, motivated, committed and be likely to recommend their workplace as a
good place to work."
EFT — Your Best Defense Against Anxiety and Stress
Even the conservative Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 85
percent of all disease has an emotional element. Stress and anxiety are two
prevalent reasons why many people acquire health problems ranging from ulcers
to sleeping problems to depression and more serious chronic ailments.
Many, if not most people carry emotional scars -- traumas that can
adversely affect your health. Chronic stress is akin to emotional scarring,
and causes ongoing damage to your cells. According to cellular biologist Dr.
Bruce Lipton, the true secret to life does not lie within your DNA, but
rather within the mechanisms of your cell membrane. Each cell membrane has
receptors that pick up various environmental signals — which includes your
thoughts and emotional state — and this mechanism controls the "reading" of
the genes inside your cells. Your cells can choose to read or not read the
genetic blueprint depending on the signals being received from the
environment. This is what is now known as epigenetic control, i.e. the
environment within your body — including your emotional terrain — controls
your genetic expression, not the other way around.
Using techniques like energy psychology, you can correct the emotional
short circuiting that contributes to your chronic stress. My favorite
technique for this is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is the
largest and most popular version of energy psychology.
EFT was developed in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering
graduate specializing in healing and self-improvement. It’s akin to
acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through
your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates
different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your
fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations.
Thiscan be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist.
Bydoing so, you help your body eliminate emotional “scarring” and reprogram
theway your body responds to emotional stressors. Since these stressors are
usually connected to physical problems, many people’s diseases and other
symptoms can improve or disappear as well.
For a demonstration of how to perform EFT, please see the following video
featuring EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman. The first video is a general
demonstration, which can be tailored to just about any problem, and the
second demonstrates how to tap for depression. While this technique is
particularly effective for relieving emotional or mental stress and anxiety,
it can be used for all manner of physical pain relief as well.
While the video above will easily teach you how to do EFT, it is VERY
important to realize that self-treatment for serious issues is NOT
recommended. It can be dangerous because it will allow you to falsely
conclude that EFT does not work when nothing could be further from the truth.
For serious or complex issues, you need someone to guide you through the
process as there is an incredible art to this process and it typically takes
years of training to develop the skill to tap on deep-seated, significant
For Optimal Health, Take Stress Management Seriously
As much as you may try to ignore it, you cannot separate your wellness
from your emotions. Every feeling you have affects some part of your body,
and stress can wreak havoc on your physical health even if you’re doing
everything else “right.”
The classic definition of stress is “any real or imagined threat, and
your body’s response to it.” Celebrations and tragedies alike can cause a
stress response in your body. All of your feelings, positive or negative,
create physiological changes. Your skin, heart rate, digestion, joints,
muscle energy levels, the hair on your head, and countless cells and systems
you don't even know about change with every emotion.
You cannot eliminate stress entirely, but there are tools available to
help your body compensate for the bioelectrical short-circuiting caused by
stress that is the root of so much illness and poor health. Exercising
regularly, getting enough sleep, and meditation are also important “release
valves” that can help you manage your stress.
The beauty about energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional
Freedom Technique (EFT) is that it can reprogram your body’s reactions to the
unavoidable stressors of everyday life, thereby providing a more lasting
effect. While it’s easy to do on your own, it’s advisable to seek the help of
a licensed therapist13 if you’re dealing with trauma-based stress such as
PTSD or grief following the loss of a loved one.
Thank You Dr. Mercola
God Bless Everyone & God Bless The United States of America.
42 S. Sherwood Dr.
Belton, Tx. 76513