“The Devil is in the details.” What does that mean to you? There are so many idioms in the English language. We have found so many ways of expressing ourselves and describing what we mean that context, understanding of who the speaker is, body language, facial expression and a number of other variables need to be taken into account to fully understand the meaning of the message being delivered, at times. Having said this, it is important to be able to simplify; to make what we glean from the massive amounts of stimuli that flood are senses every day, easier, as well as what and how we say it. When we don’t use simplification techniques, we get bogged down in complicating variables and there is misunderstanding by the receiver of the outside information as well as the increasing probability that the deliverer will fail to send the proper information or message. The focus of this article is on the three major stressors on the human condition; Relationships/Love, Money/Job/Finances and ourselves/health/spirituality. Let’s look a bit deeper into these major stress categories and find out what we can do to lessen the stress burden, thus creating a healthier environment in our minds and bodies.
First, let’s determine WHY these are the major stress categories. Aside from the ability from almost anyone to name them simply based on their own experience or that of others around them, I will point to something I have talked about in past articles and that is Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy. When you look at three of the biggest needs, love/connection, spiritual connection (understanding of ourselves, our purpose and the relationship we have to everything outside the self) and security, it is no wonder that the issues in question are as important to us as the highly stressful state of someone suffering through one of them, suggests.
There is also societal norms and, at times, pressures, that affect how we respond to these stressors. For example: Take a bread-winner from Family A, who was raised in an upper middle class household and is now living in the same economic class. Most of his friends/family have similar lifestyles, possessions, sense of security, ability to do and/or own possessions, etc. If there is a threat to that lifestyle, stress increases and that stress goes up as the threat increases. Take Family B, where that bread-winner is from lower on the socio-economic scale and never grew up “having” on a larger scale,although always had food, shelter, insurance, transportation and other basic needs. Money may have always been “tight,” but they made ends meet and did so with a positive, hard-working attitude. When that person is threatened, two things kick-in. Their potential fall isn’t as far and their acclimation to this kind of stress is keener so they tend to handle it better than the person from Family A. Again, this is just an example of two people and not meant to depict socio-economic groups, so please keep that in mind! The point being that there are almost countless situations/variables to take into account and thus, it is important that, although we are simplifying, we still have to do so on a case by case basis.
Let’s look at these stressors and how they affect so many people. The number 1 and 2 issues going on in our culture, today, are financial loss/bankruptcy and divorce/break-ups. In fact, they affect more than 50% of us and almost 3 out 4 people will experience one or the other in their lifetime! Now, to be fair, on the lower end of the spectrums I hinted at, I would argue that 100% of the people out there will experience the loss of a relationship and/or stepping backwards with income or financial status, but let’s charge forward with the current point, which is take a look at how they affect us. Stress releases cortisol in the body, a steroid that allows for increased strength, stamina and function. Sounds good, right? But it is meant for short bursts; escaping a burning building or carrying someone away from danger or fighting off a dangerous foe, etc. The problem is, many people today are in on-going cortisol states which increase belly fat, wear down the adrenals, in-turn altering our hormonal systems, interfering with sleep, digestion, normal breathing, hydration, decision-making, etc. Basically, if it goes on unchecked, chronic disease ensues and often times, this is domino-like effect.
Other effects of stress on the body: restricted or shallow breathing which leads to acidosis (high acid state in body), lack of cellular detoxification leading to chronic pain, dysfunction of the nervous system which often leads to functional disorders; digestive disease, asthma, etc and inflammatory disorders; allergies, dermatological conditions, arthritis (ITIS=inflammtion). Truly, there are almost countless issues which can be drawn back to stress, which is all the more bewildering that we minimize it so much in our culture. We talk about it, but don’t really address it, effectively, in our symptom-focused medical system.
The type of chronic disease one gets from stress is what their particular stressor, genetic predisposition and other variables point to. The domino effect is then set-off and often, these people go see a Dr, who often isn’t equipped to treat anything but the symptoms. Allopathic Medical Doctors are not trained to treat the root of chronic health issues, thus, our system of medicine is NOT qualified to treat what ails our society the most, today. Think about that. Sure, if things are bad enough and you need a new liver or you have cancer, you better have them on your calendar, but aside from emergency medicine and acute infectious care and the need for surgical intervention, they are often the wrong tool for the job! And you factor in the expense and it’s no wonder people resent paying for the RIGHT tools when they are forced to go out on their own and find the proper care for their condition. That, in and of itself, is a major stressor!
Here are some examples of stressors affecting the body: Money/financial stress often affects the low back. Poor relationships (remember, everything starts with our relationship with ourselves) often affect the lungs, heart and circulatory system. A blurred spiritual path will often lead to issues of the head and neck. When one or more of these issues is chronically attacking the person in question, digestive issues, allergies and inflammatory complaints often arise. In other words, when health becomes an issue, more health issues are often on the horizon. This brings up a key component to take into consideration. The value in awareness of what is stressing us. Admit that you struggle with what you do. There is no shame in it. We all deal with it. The successful people own up to it, face it and do what’s necessary to move beyond it.
Here-in lies the true value of natural/alternative healthcare. It is designed (optimally) to identify and treat the root(s) of one’s imbalances, be they functional, inflammatory, degenerative and whether they are from pathogenic (buggies), emotional/metaphysical, dietary, lack of movement, etc. Then the top Practitioners will identify and treat the sources of your stress. This doesn’t mean they will instantly solve your money or relationship problems, but by making you the best you can be and by changing your mind, outlook, attitude, etc, they help you set the table for success. This is true healthcare, not the sick-care of the allopathic system. I have said it before and I’ll say it, again…in every case, it is, use the right tool for the right job.
If you want to address your health issues head-on and do the work necessary to create true change…and if you’d like to get back to doing what brings you happiness, freedom and pleasure, contact me. My joy comes from helping people with chronic health issues get their lives back. Acupuncture, diet, detoxification, meditation, mind-body techniques, counseling and dietary supplement programs are proven methods to address stress and the effects of stress, in many cases, radically changing the lives of those who follow these treatment plans.
Paul Gerst L.Ac. is an Acupuncturist and Natural Health Practitioner of over 20 years, currently doing home and site visits in Metro West, Boston area. Office visits in Metro West will be available soon. Also serving the Plymouth area. Call 774-283-2726 or visit the website at nenhs.com and send an email through the contact form.