The one wildcard that can trump all of your attempts at a healthy lifestyle is stress. Once thought to be an excuse or disease of the weak-minded, stress is a now the well-recognized cause of many diseases. How often do you hear the words, “I’m really stressed” or “it has been a stressful day, week, month or year”? How often have you said those words? Stress is an ambiguous term that generally is used to indicate a system overload.
Hans Selye, founder of the field of “stress research” defined stress as, “a non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it.” (Seyle, Hans. The Stress of Life, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1984). You can also think of stress as your body’s adaptive response to any outside stimulus or force. For example, your body will adapt to stresses of physical labor and over time the labor becomes less difficult as the nerves, muscles, joints, cardiovascular system all strengthen to meet the demand. Stress can also be the challenge of education or memorization, ultimately creating a better mind and memory.
Today, we have placed a negative connotation on the word stress; however, Dr. Selye created three different words to differentiate the type of stresses we face daily.
Distress is the negative destructive stress such as a death in the family, divorce, or a new injury. Eustress is a positive adaptation to stress that is constructive, and includes exercise and education. Hyper-stress is a prolonged exposure to stress without relief that ultimately leads to breakdown of the system and disease.
Selye once said, “It’s not the stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.” Similarly, Marcus Aurelius Antonius once said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it and this you have the power to resolve at any moment”.
We live in a world driven by hyper-stress and our bodies suffer the physical manifestations of stress. Uncontrolled, stress can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, elevated cholesterol, pain, depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and premature death. Prolonged, uncontrolled stress can kill.
What is the solution? First and foremost, “cast all of your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you.” Take time to gain perspective on life by reading in the Bible from the book of Psalms and Hebrews, and prayerfully surrender your worries to the Creator of the Universe. By His great power He created billions of galaxies and yet He knows you by name, even the number of hairs on your head, and He is faithful to help you through any situation.
Blog By: Dr. Scott Scroll