Let’s go deeper and explore how stress affects us at different levels – physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual – thus compromising our immunity.
The Price of Distress
In his book ‘Immune Power Personality’, author Henry Dreher says
“When our coping strategies falter and we are flooded with feelings of distress, our immune system is also flooded – with too much, too little, or the wrong kinds of messenger molecules. Once the immune system receives inappropriate messages, it can malfunction, setting the stage for disease.”
The research findings are clear:
- Helpless rats have helpless immune systems.
- Hopeless cancer patients have worse outcomes.
- Depressed spouses have more illness.
- Anxious individuals have shorter life-spans.
- Bottled-up arthritis sufferers have more flare-ups.
- Fatigued breast cancer patients have fewer fighting cells.
- Demoralised workers have weaker defenses.
“The implications are clear: When our minds cannot cope with distress, our immune systems cannot defend us from invaders or cancer cells. More importantly, learning to cope better with stress is a choice we can make and must make. It is a difficult choice, which comes with a great prize attached: optimum immunity that prevents occurrence and recurrence of cancer.”
Where is your distress coming from?
As we’ve said before, modern life creates a lot of pressure and it isn’t going to let up! The question is, how will we deal with it?
To answer this question, we propose to look deeper at stress, rather than viewing it very generally. And to do this, we will draw from the wellness traditions of the Indian sub-continent, specifically the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
According to this approach, you and I (and every human) have five levels of being – physical, mental, emotional, systemic and spiritual – which make us complete. It follows naturally that stress can spring from and affect us at one or more of those levels.
A quick look at the five ‘Stressors’
1. Physical Stressors: Lifestyle issues: diet, exercise, rest, personal habits, environmental factors, etc.
2. Mental Stressors: Mindset issues: Limiting thought-patterns, values, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, world-views, etc.
3. Emotional Stressors: Wounding issues: Recurring reactions and responses, emotional blocks, unresolved conflicts, etc.
4. Systemic Stressors: Relationship issues: personal, family, social, professional, etc.
5. Spiritual Stressors: Existential issues: Identity, life-purpose, faith, connection with one’s Deeper Self, etc.
- What are the major and minor stressors in your life that may have contributed to your illness? Reflect on the recent past as well as the distant past.
- What if you can categorise your stressors (and strengths) as physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual? What insights do you gain about yourself?
- Consider taking our FREE Holisitic Health Questionnaire – click here – for a comprehensive diagnosis of your stressors and strengths
More from this series
|Title||About the article|
|Part 1||We hear and read about stress everyday. Many of us experience stress in our lives so often. We are all better educated, more affluent and have access to more comforts than our parents and grandparents, yet we find ourselves running faster than ever before to keep up with the demands on our lives.|
|Part 2||In his book ‘Immune Power Personality’, author Henry Dreher says “When our coping strategies falter and we are flooded with feelings of distress, our immune system is also flooded – with too much, too little, or the wrong kinds of messenger molecules. Once the immune system receives inappropriate messages, it can malfunction, setting the stage for disease.|
|Part 3||Under stress, what happens inside us is that our body responds through the “flight, fight or freeze” response, triggered by the stress hormone: adrenaline. As long as adrenaline stays in our blood-stream, it creates a series of changes in the body’s function.|