As a chiropractor, I’m always challenging people to look to the cause of their pain, ailment, or illness because unless you uncover the cause, you’ll always be treating and managing the symptoms. The World Health Organization has reported that the ultimate cause of any loss of health is excessive amounts of physical, chemical, and/or emotional stress beyond the body’s natural ability to adapt. Research suggests that emotional stress is the single biggest factor of these different stressors. In my discussions with people, I certainly find that many are dealing with excessive amounts of this emotional stress resulting with increased pain, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, digestive disorders, amongst other health problems. In preparation for Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a reminder of a strategy on how to reduce the effects of our daily stress.
First of all, I’d like to emphasize that we weren’t born into stress. Instead, we experience different stress, and over time we practice this stress until we get very good at it. In time, our conscious stress (what we perceive and what we choose to focus on) becomes subconscious stress. In subconscious stress, our brain is functioning in a revved-up, fight/flight state that is appropriate for survival (fighting a bear) but not appropriate for every-day life. When our brain is in this state, it changes our physiology through our nervous system and our hormones and our organs start to function differently. Eventually, this can manifest as almost any disease out there. So we must interrupt the stress response! Physical exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer, and other disciplines have been proven to decrease stress. But given the season, I would like to encourage you to just try another strategy that can reduce the subconscious stress. This strategy is using a gratitude journal.
Science has proven that our brain cannot be in a state of stress and gratitude at the same time. This is why I like to call, gratitude the universal solvent of all emotional stresses. All you need is a small notebook or journal and a pen by your bed stand. In the mornings, before your feet hit the floor, you simply write down five things that you’re grateful for. These can be big or small. This is to allow you to at least begin your day in this state with the goal of staying in a state of gratitude as long as possible. Then at night, right before your head hits the pillow, you read some of the things you’ve written over the mornings until you feel like you are back in that state of gratitude. This will work best if you stay in this state and don’t let any other thoughts enter your head until you’re asleep. In doing this, you will be retraining the subconscious mind to be in this state rather than a state of anxiety, depression, anger, etc. This is a simple strategy that will render results over time. Give it a try and have a Happy Thanksgiving!