stress as illness

I came acrross this blog post about The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi. This rings true for many of us. I know from my own cranio-sacral therapy practice that a stressful lifestyle – feeling continously busy – causes so many health issues, illness and general unwellness.

I practice grounding regularly and try to organise my life in order to avoid stress, but still, now and then, I catch myself in the habits of hurrying around and trying to fit too many things into 24 hours – something that I have inherited from my dance background. When I end up in an old stressful pattern for a longer period of time I find it hard to let go of it. I notice many changes in myself, such as my mood is more tense and I find it harder to relax. My body feels more rigid and I start experiencing back pains. After a while my skin becomes dryer. By observing these symptoms, I find there is a very clear pathway into unwellness. Although our bodies have similar stress responses – fright/fight/flight responses – to a stressful situation – whatever the situation, the effects of living with long term stress are very individual. Someone might develop poor digestion, another; migranes or inflamation.

In those situations, I recognise that I need outside help to bring me back to groundedness. Usually one session with a cranio-sacral therapy colleague helps me to balance, see the situation in a new perspective and cope better with stress.

Our ability to cope with stress is influenced by many factors, but one is how well we feel that we can control the situation. Although our society is designed to create stress with the attitude of working faster and more, we can, most of the time, influence situations by our own choice. Stresses that cannot be controlled, such as the death of a loved one, are the most difficult to cope with. During times when we cannot change the situation, we can seek help venting the stress and temporary relief of symptoms that living with long term stress might have caused. However, it is not until we can address the cause of the stress that we can make a real difference.

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