Psychological stress has a huge impact on our health. Given that stress causes inflammation, which in turn leads to disease like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, this doesn’t come as surprise.
According to Donald Yance, an eminent herbalist and nutritionist, stress was found to be the cause of cancer all the way back in 1908. He notes,
“Eli Jones, the great eclectic physician in cancer, and probably the most brilliant person that ever lived on the face of the planet, wrote a book in 1908 called “Cancer – Its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.” There isn’t one inaccuracy I can find in that book, written more than 100 years ago.”
Chronic Stress Makes Cancer Spread
Recently, an animal study showed that when mice were chronically stressed, their lymphatic system went through changes that created the perfect conditions for cancer to spread more easily. According to Science Alert,
“Although the study hasn’t been replicated in humans as yet, it’s a huge step towards understanding how stress – which has long been linked to cancer progression – actually helps tumour cells escape…
“Not for a minute are we suggesting that someone who’s just been diagnosed with cancer should not be stressed, because that would have to be one of the most stressful situations”… Erica Sloan from Monash University in Australia, told ABC News.
“But rather how do we look after cancer patients, because this suggests that stress not only affects patient wellbeing but also gets into the body and affects how the tumour progresses.”
How Does Stress Promote the Spread of Cancer?
Cancer cells spread to other areas through the blood vessels or the lymphatic system. Naturally, stress hormones affect both of them. In this particular study researchers tried to find out how stress hormones promote spread of cancer cells via the lymphatic system.
What they found is that the mechanism is related to the way adrenaline stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to boost the rate of lymph formation. It also causes certain physical changes in the lymph vessels, letting cancer cells mitigate into other parts of the body.
As suggested by the National Cancer Institute,
[Y]our body’s neuroendocrine response (release of hormones into your blood in response to stimulation of your nervous system) can directly alter important processes in cells that help protect against the formation of cancer, such as DNA repair and the regulation of cell growth.”
According to an earlier research, emotional stress contributes to both cancer development and ineffectiveness of conventional treatments.
Work Stress Increases Your Risk For Heart Disease
As shown in the documentary film “Of Hearts and Minds,” the heart contains neurons which resemble the ones in the brain. Given that there is a strong link between the heart and the brain, they basically create a symbiotic whole.
According to a recent research, there is a close relationship between the number of working hours and the risk of heart disease. As reported by the New York Times,
“After adjusting for age, sex, income and other factors, they found that for each additional hour of work per week over 10 years, there was a 1 percent increase in the risk for heart disease.
Compared with working 45 hours a week, working 55 hours increased the risk by 16 percent, 60 hours by 35 percent, 65 hours by 52 percent, and 70 hours by 74 percent.
Working 75 hours or more doubled the risk for a cardiovascular problem — angina, coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke or heart attack.”
Stress Levels Continue to Rise in the US
One recent study suggests that Americans are stressed much more than they have been ever before. As reported by a 2012 study by Carnegie Mellon University, the stress levels increased by 30% between the years 1983 and 2009.
Between 2014 and 2015, stress levels rose from 4.9 to 5.1 on a 10-point stress scale. The largest increase was found among adults who reported being under extreme stress.
Another similar study showed that eight in ten Americans are stressed about their jobs. As reported by Time Magazine,
“This most recent survey also tracked the impact of discrimination on stress. Some 61 percent of adults surveyed reported that they have experienced unfair treatment or discrimination on a day-to-day basis, and many of them experienced stress in connection to that.
Hispanic and black adults reported being stressed by even the anticipation of discrimination, with 3 in 10 who reported experiencing day-to-day discrimination saying they changed their behavior or appearance to avoid harassment or get good service.”
Is Your Stress Ruining Your Adrenal Function?
Chronic stress affects the adrenals as well, often leading to adrenal fatigue. Hormones released by the adrenal glands are responsible for the regulation of various bodily functions, including the “fight or flight” response to stress. Once adrenal fatigue occurs, the resilience to stress is compromised, making you hypersensitive.
One of the most common factors that stress out the adrenals include:
- Lingering negative emotions like anger, fear, guilt, and depression
- Overwork, including physical or mental strain
- Chronic infection, pain, illness, or inflammation
- Sleep deprivation and/or light-cycle disruption
There are many different ways to measure adrenal function, such as a 24-hours urine test, blood draw, or timed salivary collections. The first one works best for most people, and it involves urinating on a test strip at 4 times in a 24-hour period, letting the strip dry, and sending them to the lab.
Conquer Your Stress with Energy Psychology
While stress is an inevitable part of life for most people, there are ways to deal with it and prevent any health complications.
The stress reaction should be dealt with as quickly as possible. Resilience is the scientific term for this, meaning “the ability of your body to rapidly return to normal, both physically and emotionally, after a stressful event.”
Management tools like breathing exercises are effective in developing greater resilience, as well as ETF, an energy psychology tool which works by reducing the risk of developing adverse health effects. It resembles acupuncture in terms of being based on the concept of energy flow throughout the body.
Reframing Stressful Events
There are 4 factors that have been identified as markers for determining the intensity of our stress response:
- Threat perception
- Sense of no control
Reframing is a psychological tool which helps alter your response to a stressful event. As noted by an eminent acupuncturist interested in stress-reduction principles,
“Let’s say you lose your job. If you perceive that event as a sign of your worthlessness and an indicator that you’ll never be successful, I think you can imagine how your body will respond (it won’t be fun!). But what if you saw the loss of your job as an opportunity to pursue a longtime dream that you’ve ignored and a chance for a fresh start?
In this case, losing your job would be unlikely to trigger a harmful stress response and may even be a source of “eustress,” or positive stress.
I’m not suggesting that it’s possible, or even desirable, to put a positive spin on tragic or horrific events. But if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all of the minor, daily hassles that characterize most of our lives, reframing can be a powerful way of mitigating the impact of that stress.”
Reframing Tips and Tricks
Here are 4 strategies that can be beneficial when it comes to reframing your response to a stressful event:
- Question your thoughts
- Turn perceived threat into a challenge
- Expand your time horizon
- Increase your perceived sense of control
Other Stress Management Techniques
Here are a few stress management approaches which are worth considering:
- Regular physical activity
- Laughter and levity
- Spending time in nature
- Having fun
- Sleep ( at least 7 hours per night)
- Mindfulness training
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong